Mary Nolan

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Mary Nolan
BornMary Imogene Robertson
(1905-12-18)December 18, 1905
Hickory Grove, Anderson County, Kentucky, U.S.
DiedOctober 31, 1948(1948-10-31) (aged 42)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Other namesImogene Robertson
Imogen Robertson
Mary Robertson
Imogene Wilson
 
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Mary Nolan
BornMary Imogene Robertson
(1905-12-18)December 18, 1905
Hickory Grove, Anderson County, Kentucky, U.S.
DiedOctober 31, 1948(1948-10-31) (aged 42)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Other namesImogene Robertson
Imogen Robertson
Mary Robertson
Imogene Wilson

Mary Nolan (December 18, 1905 – October 31, 1948) was an American actress and dancer.

Contents

Ziegfeld Follies dancer

Born Mary Imogene Robertson in Kentucky, Robertson's childhood was beset with hardship that included the death of her mother in 1908 and an absent father. As a child, she worked as a farm laborer, before moving to New York City in 1919 where she worked as a model. She was discovered by Florenz Ziegfeld, who hired her under the name Imogene Wilson (the first of three name changes she was to have) as a dancer in his follies. As a showgirl in New York she was called Bubbles. Her impact as a dancer was so profound that columnist Mark Hellinger once said of her in 1922: "Only two people in America would bring every reporter in New York to the docks to see them off. One is the President. The other is Imogene "Bubbles" Wilson."

German interlude

It was at this point that she began a long and abusive relationship with comedian Frank Tinney, which would culminate in her being hospitalised for injuries he inflicted on her during an argument. Because Tinney was married to another woman, the affair caused a scandal. Nolan was fired from the Ziegfeld Follies and subsequently moved to Germany for two years. While in Germany, she made a large number of films, including Das Panzergewölbe and Verborgene Gluten.[citation needed]

Hollywood actress

Moving back to the United States in 1927, Robertson adopted the stage name Mary Nolan and had a brief film career, starring in films such as The Foreign Legion, Shanghai Lady, and Docks of San Francisco. She made Sorrell and Son for United Artists in 1927, but her film career declined afterwards. In 1928 she co-starred with two great actors, Lon Chaney and Lionel Barrymore, in West of Zanzibar directed by Tod Browning in what is arguably today her most well-known and heartbreaking silent film role as Chaney's defiled daughter. In 1933, she made her final screen appearance in File 113. The same year, she sued Hollywood producer Eddie Mannix for $500,000 in damages. She accused him of beating her.[citation needed] In 1937, Nolan was jailed for an unpaid dress bill. She turned up "sick and broke" at the Actor's Fund Home in Amityville, New York. She regained her health and returned to Hollywood in 1939. She lived there in obscurity with her sister, Mrs. Mabel Rondeau.[citation needed]

Drug addiction and death

Unable to gain work, she became addicted to heroin and died of cardiac arrest on Halloween, October 31, 1948. She suffered from a chronic gall bladder ailment and had recently been discharged from Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. She was 42 years old and reportedly weighed only 90 pounds when she died in a small stucco bungalow at 1504 South Mansfield Avenue, Los Angeles.

Her tiny apartment was simply furnished except for a single possession. There was a huge antique piano formerly owned by Rudolph Valentino, which almost filled her living room. She bought it from the possessions which were once a part of Falcon Lair, Valentino's home. Nolan revered the deceased film actor and kept his photo on the music rack. Nolan had only recently completed negotiations for the sale of her life story, in screenplay and novel form. She previously sold a similar account to a popular magazine, the second installment of which had only recently been printed. When she died, the former dancer was still married to Wallace McCreary, who likewise had a tumultuous Hollywood career.[citation needed]

Filmography

As Imogene Robertson

As Imogene Robetson

As Mary Nolan

Further reading

References

External links