Nancy Wilson was a lot of things to many people: a daughter; a mother; a wife. But the legendary singer, who died Thursday at the age of 81, will surely go down in history as one of the greatest jazz performers of all time.
However, there was another role that Wilson carved out during her lifetime: an actress.
The woman with the inimitable golden voice starred or appeared in nearly two dozen TV shows over the course of more than four decades, according to IMDB. But it was one cameo appearance, in particular, that many on social media were remembering fondly Friday, when news of her death was officially announced.
Wilson’s one-time role on “The Cosby Show” as Lorraine “NuNu” Kendall — the mother of Joseph Phillips’ character Martin, who was the husband of Lisa Bonet‘s Denise Huxtable — was short, but oh-so-memorable for the way she broke into song mid-line to effortlessly display the vocals that made her such celebrated singer during a career that won her three Grammys spanning just about 60 years.
The episode in question featured Martin parents visiting Lisa’s family home in Brooklyn and was called “Grampy and NuNu Visit the Huxtables.” It aired nearly 30 years ago on Nov. 30, 1989, and was about Lisa worrying about what her new in-laws would think of her and her family.
The setting was the family home’s basement with Lisa’s father speaking with Martin’s father, who was played by legendary actor stage and TV actor Moses Gunn. The two were having a playful discussion about James Moody’s jazz standard, “I’m in the Mood for Love,” and begin signing it when Wilson, accompanied by Phylicia Rashad‘s Clair Huxtable, strides onto the set, flashed her signature smile and belted out the rest of the song’s lyrics. That prompted Claire to join in as the two ladies walk down the stairs to join their husbands in song, bringing the studio audience to a resounding round of applause when she was finished.
See the classic footage below.
Rest in peace, Nancy Wilson. She will be missed.