Wednesday, January 2, 2013

gone but not forgotten - mary nolan

photograph by charles gates sheldon, ca. 1920

photographed by charles gates sheldon, ca. 1920

in original costume by erté

photograph by edward steichen, ca. 1929

born mary imogene robertson in 1905, mary nolan started her show-business career as a teenage model. florenz ziegfeld jr. signed her for his follies show where she earned the nickname of "bubbles".  while there, she began a tumultuous & abusive relationship with top headlining comedian frank tinney, who was married at the time, which culminated in nolan being hospitalized for injuries he inflicted on her during a fight. the tabloids got wind of the scandal & despite her injuries she was summarily fired from the ziegfeld follies.
nolan fled to germany to avoid the negative attention & starred in a few films while there. in 1927, after 2 years spent in europe, she returned quietly to hollywood, changing her name to mary nolan. she worked on several films, including a few as the lead but her last film was in 1932.  in 1933 she sued hollywood producer edward mannix whom she accused of beating her. in 1937 she was arrested & jailed for an unpaid dress bill & while there faced a complaint from a local moter livery who complained that the actress owed him $43.50 for four days' hire.
broke and despondent, her self-destructive tendencies kicked in & she suffered several nervous breakdowns & her health declined due to acute manlnutrition & a variety of physical ailments. she started using heroin which spelled the end. in 1948 she died of cardiac arrest & liver problems at the age of 42.
so sad, she was such a beauty.


  1. OMG i love mary nolan so so so much...what a GORGEOUS creature. but yes, so sad...she was a heroin addict which was ultimately her demise.

  2. Her acting in West of Zanzibar is amazing - very modern. I was so impressed by her acting style I searched for online bio. I was very sad to discover the last 15 years of her life were wasted on drugs and other forms of self-destruction. She was an excellent actress who could have been great. And yes, of course, she was gorgeous too.

  3. sadly, the majority of the stars from this era seem to have tragic endings. i'm so happy i never had that desire to be famous. seems like more sad stories than happy endings.

  4. Six months before her death, she was asked if she had her life to do over again, would she change it.
    She replied, "Change it? Why, I've had a beautiful life, I've tumbled into the most beautiful life in the world. I'd never change it."

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