Morgan Fairchild as Novelist Nora Bing: Forever a Friend of "Friends"

By Friends of "Friends" Archives
Cover image for  article: Morgan Fairchild as Novelist Nora Bing:  Forever a Friend of "Friends"

Throughout its 10-year run, some of the most memorable moments on Friends belonged to those guest-stars playing parents.  They are more than just Friends of Friends; they are also Family of Friends.  Hindsight credit must be given to the comedic talents of greats like Christina Pickles (Judy Gellar) and Elliott Gould (Jack Gellar), who portrayed Monica and Ross’ parents; Teri Garr (Phoebe Abbott), whose character was found to be the birth mother of twins Phoebe and Ursula; Brenda Vaccaro as Joey’s mom Gloria; Marlo Thomas as Rachel’s “perfect” mom Sandra and, of course, Kathleen Turner as Chandler’s dad, Vegas performer Helena Handbasket (a.k.a Charles Bing).  When it came to parents leaving a mark on the gang, though, no one can top Chandler’s mother Nora, the author of many steamy romance novels, played by Morgan Fairchild (pictured above with Turner), who famously left her mark on Ross.  “I was the first person to kiss a Friend,” boasted Fairchild when I asked her about the role. “The show was still new, and I was [one of] the first parents cast on Friends, and the first person to kiss one (Ross), so that was a lot of fun.’’

While Fairchild would have a blast doing the show, returning for four more episodes following season one’s The One with Mrs. Bing, novelist Nora is a role she was originally advised to not take.  “The show hadn’t been on that long when they offered it to me,” she revealed.  “My girlfriends told me I shouldn't do it because I was too young to play [Chandler’s] mom.  But I'd seen the show, and this is how I always make decisions: I've always been of the mindset that you need to re-introduce yourself to a new audience every five years.  I knew each of the young people individually were very good, and that they had done great ensemble work, which are two very different talents.  And I knew it would appeal to young people.  So, I said yes.”



Friends wasn't a big hit at the time,” she continued.  “Shortly after [my episode] ran, the two Matthews (Perry and LeBlanc) came up to me in a Blockbuster store, as my appearance was promoted very heavily, and said, ‘You got us in the top five!’  So, I felt I had a very vested interest in the show.  They always gave great material, and it was such a good cast of good talented people.”


It would be a few years between appearances on Friends for Nora Bing, so imagine Fairchild’s delight when the character re-appeared for Chandler and Monica’s wedding in season seven’s closing two-parter (The One with Monica and Chandler’s Wedding), where she is reunited with her long-divorced husband Charles (Turner).  “That was great,” she laughed.  “Gary Oldman was also in that episode, but they didn't use a lot of his stuff because of time, and because there was so much storyline going on in those two episodes.


“But he was brilliant doing that ‘Peter O'Toole’ kind of character,” she recalled.  “I told Gary, ‘You should do more comedy.  They never cast me that way.’  He said, ‘I know the feeling.  They never cast me the way I want to be, either.  I never get to play doctors or lawyers or any of that.’”



With 15 years passing since the end of Friends, Fairchild admitted she hasn’t been able to keep in touch with the cast, although she thoroughly enjoys their random chance encounters.  “We run into each other occasionally, she shared.  “At things like a lunch, and Lisa Kudrow gets her hair done where I do, so I do see her.  Sometimes I'd run into Matthew (Perry) at the Polo lounge having lunch.  He's always such a sweetheart and always comes over to say hello.  All of them are doing so well and [going about] their lives.  It's very hard, it's [almost] like being a Beatle or something.  What do you do for the rest of your life after you've had this huge hit in your early 20s?  But they're all doing creative things still, they've all moved on, and are all doing really well, so that's what's good.”


One thing’s for sure:  With Nora Bing still fresh in many Friends viewers’ minds, not to mention enjoying a new base of young fans, she is a character Fairchild would love to revisit.  “I wish they’d have given her a spin-off,” she shared in closing.  “I want my own show -- The Nora Bing Show.  I really wish Marta Kauffman would do that.  Let's go explore Nora, because I think she's still nuts.”


Be sure to read Steve Gidlow's interviews with many more Friends of Friends.


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