Hidden Hollywood: Mary Nolan

Mary Nolan (1902 - 1948) b. Mary Imogene Robertson, was a Ziegfeld girl at the age of 15. Her nickname was “Bubbles.” She gained notoriety for her very public affair with Frank Tinney, a huge vaudeville star who was very married. Nolan eventually made her way to Hollywood where in 1928, she co-starred in West of Zanzibar. The film stars Lon Chaney and Lionel Barrymore, with Nolan cast as Chaney's defiled daughter Maizie. The film was a hit and Nolan's performance is spectacular.

Mary Nolan (1902 – 1948) b. Mary Imogene Robertson, was a Ziegfeld girl at the tender age of 15. Her nickname was Bubbles — which gives  some insight into young Mary’s reputation. She gained notoriety for a very public affair with Frank Tinney, a popular vaudeville star who was married. She was fired from the Follies and moved to Germany where she worked in the film industry. In 1927, she returned to America and made her way to Hollywood where she adopted the stage name Mary Nolan. In 1928 she co-starred in West of Zanzibar, directed by Tod Browning. The film stars Lon Chaney and Lionel Barrymore, with Nolan cast as Chaney’s defiled daughter Maizie. The film was a hit and Nolan’s performance is superb.

In 1929, Nolan starred in Desert Nights opposite John Gilbert, once again the Kentucky born Nolan turned in a finely calibrated performance. Unfortunately, Nolan had a taste for abusive men. She carried on an affair with MGM fixer Eddie Mannix, who beat Nolan to a pulp wench she threatened to tell Mannix's wife of the affair. Nolan was hospitalized for six months and endured fifteen surgeries. Basically, except for small parts in small movies, her career was over.

In 1929, Nolan starred in Desert Nights opposite John Gilbert. Once again the Kentucky born Nolan turned in a finely calibrated performance. Unfortunately, Nolan had a taste for abusive men. She carried on an affair with MGM fixer Eddie Mannix, who allegedly beat Nolan to a pulp when she threatened to expose their relationship to Mannix’s wife. According to a lurid 1941 memoir penned (ghost-written) by Nolan for Hearst’s American Weekly, “The Real Life Follies of Bubbles Wilson,” she was hospitalized for six months and endured fifteen surgeries. Because of drug abuse and a reputation for being a difficult actress Nolan’s career was over except for small parts in B movies.

 

Nolan put together a night club act. She sang, she told stories of her glory days as a Ziegfeld girl and a Hollywood star. She was also a heroine addict. The picture was taken in 1937. Nolan was but 35 years old. In 1948, her body was discovered in her small apartment, dead from an overdose of Seconal. She was 48 years old.

Unable to find work in Hollywood, Nolan put together a nightclub act. She sang, she danced, she told stories of her glory days as a Ziegfeld girl and a Hollywood star. She was also a heroin addict. This picture was taken in 1937 when  Nolan was but 35 years old. In 1948, Nolan’s body was discovered in her shabby Los Angeles bungalow, dead from an overdose of Seconal. It was never determined if death was accidental or by design. She was 46 years old.

This entry was posted in Hidden Hollywood, Hollywood, Hollywood Stars, Hollywood Still Photography, Mary Nolan, Photography, Silent Movies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

2 Comments

  1. Michael Kennedy
    Posted July 15, 2017 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I wonder if actresses were more attracted to “Bad Boy” types? Lana Turner, even Maureen Ohara seemed to be attracted alcoholic men.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Bill Brandt
    Posted July 13, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    What a sad end to an actress who could have been immortal. It seems like in so many of our lives their is a hidden Greek tragedy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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