Jeanette Nolan (December 30, 1911 – June 5, 1998) was an American radio, film, and television actress who was nominated for fourEmmy Awards.
Nolan began her acting career at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, California, and, while a student at Los Angeles City College, made her radio debut in 1932 in Omar Khayyam, the first transcontinental broadcast from station KHJ, and continued acting until the 1990s. She made her film debut as Lady Macbeth in Orson Welles's 1948 film Macbeth, based on Shakespeare's play of the same name. Despite the fact that she and the film received withering reviews at the time, Nolan's film career flourished in largely supporting roles. Viewers of film noir may know her best as the corrupt wife of a dead (and equally corrupt) police officer in Fritz Lang'sThe Big Heat. Her final film appearance was in Robert Redford's The Horse Whisperer as Redford's mother. She also lent her voice to several Walt Disney animated films, most notably as Widow Tweed, the kindly old lady who adopts an orphan fox in the 1981 featureThe Fox and the Hound
Nolan made more than three hundred television appearances, including the religion anthology series, Crossroads and as Dr. Marion in the 1956 episode "The Healer" in Brian Keith's CBS series about the Cold War, Crusader. She appeared on Rod Cameron's syndicatedseries, State Trooper. Nolan was cast as Emmy Zecker in the 1959 episode "Johnny Yuma" of the ABC western series, The Rebel, starring Nick Adams. She appeared in two episodes of David Janssen's crime drama, Richard Diamond, Private Detective.
From 1959 to 1960, she played Annette Deveraux, part-owner of the hotel in the CBS western series, Hotel de Paree, with Earl Holliman. In 1960, she appeared in season 4, episode 7, of Richard Boone's Have Gun - Will Travel as a newly widowed sheriff. Also, in 1962, season 5, episode 24, as proprietor of a secluded halfway house. She was cast in other western films, most notably The Wild Women of Chastity Gulch (1982).
Nolan made many guest appearances on CBS's Perry Mason, including the 1958 episode "The Case of the Fugitive Nurse." She portrayed Janet Picard in the episode "Woman in the River" of the ABC/Warner Brothers detective series Bourbon Street Beat, starringAndrew Duggan. She gave an over-the-top performance as a crazed old woman in the "Parasite Mansion" episode of NBC's Thriller.
On April 27, 1962, she appeared in the episode "A Book of Faces" on another ABC crime drama, Target: The Corruptors, starringStephen McNally and Robert Harland. She guest starred as Claire Farnham in the episode "To Love Is to Live" on the NBC medical drama about psychiatry, The Eleventh Hour. She was cast as a fortuneteller, Mme. Di Angelo, in the 1963 episode "The Black-Robed Ghost" of the CBS anthology series, GE True, hosted by Jack Webb.
In 1963, Nolan was cast as Mrs. Mertens in the episode, "Reformation of Willie", on the ABC drama series, Going My Way, starring Gene Kelly as a Roman Catholic priest in New York City. Coincidentally Going My Way followed the western series, Wagon Train, on the ABC schedule. Nolan herself appeared three times on Wagon Train, in which her husband, John McIntire, co-starred as wagon master Chris Hale from 1961 to 1965.
Nolan guest starred three times from 1963 to 1964 on NBC's Dr. Kildare and in a 1964 episode of Richard Crenna's short-lived Slattery's People, a political drama series on CBS. Earlier, she had appeared with Crenna and Walter Brennan in their ABC sitcom, The Real McCoys.
Nolan played the role of witches in two of Rod Serling's anthology television series; in The Twilight Zone episode "Jess-Belle" with Anne Francis, and the Night Gallery segment "Since Aunt Ada Came to Stay" with James Farentino and Michele Lee.
On November 4, 1965, she portrayed the treacherous Ma Burns in "The Golden Trail" episode of NBC's Laredo. Ma Burns is a supposedly refined woman trying to hijack a presumed gold shipment, which in actuality is thirty-six bottles of Tennessee whisky. She was also cast on Laredo as Martha Tuforth in "It's the End of the Road, Stanley" (1966) and as Vita Rose in "Like One of the Family" (1967). Laredo was a spinoff of the The Virginian, whose cast Nolan joined in 1967, along with her husband John McIntire.
Nolan guest-starred on the short-lived situation comedy, The Mothers-in-Law in two separate episodes in the show's second and final season. She first played Kaye Ballard's grandmother, Gabriela Balotta, who always fainted when she didn't get her way; and then secondly as Annie MacTaggart, a Scottish nanny hired to take care of newborn twins of the younger couple, Jerry and Suzie Buell.
She appeared regularly in several radio series: Young Dr. Malone, 1939–1940; Cavalcade of America, 1940–1941; Nicolette Moore in One Man's Family, 1947–1950; and The Great Gildersleeve, 1949-1952. She appeared episodically in many more.
In 1974, she starred briefly with Dack Rambo in CBS's Dirty Sally, a spinoff of the Gunsmoke western series where she had played a recurring guest role for eight episodes. She also played the titular role in the award-winning short film Peege (1972) because of her Gunsmoke connection. In all, Nolan appeared as a guest star in television's Gunsmokemore than any other female. She appeared with Judd Hirsch in Dear John, and Harry Anderson in Night Court.
Nolan portrayed Mrs. Peck in the episode "Double Shock" of Peter Falk's Columbo series. She played Alma, Rose Nylund's adoptive mother, in one episode of the hit NBC sitcom,The Golden Girls.
Personal life and death
Nolan graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in her native Los Angeles, California.
In 1935, Nolan married actor John McIntire; the couple remained together until his death in 1991. The couple guest starred together in an episode of Charlie's Angels in 1979, The Incredible Hulk in 1980, Quincy, M.E. in 1983, and Night Court in 1985, playing Dan Fielding's hick parents. She was the mother of two children, one of whom was the actor Tim McIntire, who was best known for his turn as the legendary DJ Alan Freed in the 1978 film American Hot Wax.
She died of a stroke on June 5, 1998, and was buried in Eureka, Montana's Tobacco Valley Cemetery.