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Jeanette Nolan

Updated on June 2, 2016
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I'm a fan of classic TV shows and films. My articles focus on the character actors and actress who usually played supporting roles.

Bio Stats

Born: 30 December 1911 (Los Angeles, California)

Died: 5 June 1998 (Los Angeles, California)

Cause of Death: Complications after a stroke

Film and TV Appearances: 200+

Award Nominations: 6 (2 Wins)

Years Active: 1948 - 1998

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

as Nora Ericson
as Nora Ericson

Early Life

Born in 1911, Jeanette Nolan was one of three children born to Edward and Ada Nolan. Her father was a union official in Los Angeles where she grew up. When she was a teenager she had acting roles at the Pasadena Community Playhouse and attended Lincoln High School. Later on, she studied Theater Arts at Los Angeles City College.

It was while she was attending Los Angeles City College she was persuaded to audition for a role on a radio show. Her gift for being able to do dialects (Scottish, Irish, Spanish, Italian, German and Russian - to name a few) got her hired straight away and she soon became one of the regular members of the radio series Hollywood Hotel.

Some of the other radio programs she appeared on were Omar Khayyam (her debut); Young Dr. Malone; Cavalcade of America; One Man's Family; Suspense; The Great Gildersleeve and Dramatic Interlude With Jeanette Nolan.

Radio acting has nothing to do with looks. It's all to do with imagination, and a deep creative germ that you are born with.

— Jeanette Nolan


In 1948, Nolan made her screen debut in Orson Welles' production of Macbeth. She had known Welles since the time they both worked on the radio series The March of Time. Nolan was the second choice to play Lady Macbeth after Welles was unable to the actress he wanted for the role (Agnes Moorehead). Before the film was released she and Welles performed the play at the Utah Festival in Salt Lake City.

Some of the other films she appeared in were Words and Music (1948); No Sad Songs for Me (1950); The Big Heat (1953); Tribute to a Bad Man (1956); April Love (1957); The Rabbit Trap (1959); Two Rode Together (1961); The Charge is Murder (1963); My Blood Runs Cold (1965); Chamber of Horrors (1966); The Reluctant Astronaut (1967); The Sky's the Limit (1975); The Winds of Autumn (1976); Avalanche (1978); True Confessions (1981); Street Justice (1987); and The Horse Whisperer (1998).

In addition to acting in a number of film roles, she also voiced a number of roles - most notably as the voice of Norma Bates in Psycho (1960). Other voice acting roles were that of Ellie Mae in the animated film The Rescuers (1977) and Widow Tweed in The Fox and the Hound (1981) - both for Disney.

MacGyver (1985-1992)

as Carol in the episode "The Madonna" (season 5)
as Carol in the episode "The Madonna" (season 5)


The bulk of Nolan's acting career was on television. From 1953 to 1990 she appeared on many TV shows including regular roles on Hotel de Paree (as Annette Deveraux); The Richard Boone Show (appeared in 25 episodes); The Virginian (in the last season as Holly Grainger); and Dirty Sally (starring as Sally Fergus). Dirty Sally was a spin-off of the long-running TV series Gunsmoke - Nolan appeared as Sally Fergus in three episodes.

TV films and mini-series Jeanette Nolan appeared were Special for Women: The Menace of Age (1964); The Boy from Dead Man's Bayou (1971); Hijack! (1973); The Desperate Miles (1975); Babe (1975); Law and Order (1976); The New Daughters of Joshua Cabe (1976); The Awakening Land (1978); Lassie: A New Beginning (1978); Better Late Than Never (1979); The Hustler of Muscle Beach (1980); Goliath Awaits (1981); All the Way Home (1981); and The Wild Women of Chastity Gulch (1981); and Oklahoma Passage (1989).

Some of the TV shows she guest-starred on were Mr. & Mrs. North; You Are There; Schlitz Playhouse; Four Star Theatre; The Lineup; Peter Gunn; Bat Masterson; Alfred Hitchcock Presents; Have Gun, Will Travel; The Twilight Zone; Dr. Kildare; Wagon Train; Perry Mason; I Spy; My Three Sons; Laredo; Night Gallery; Emergency!; Medical Center; Mannix; Police Woman; Columbo; The Waltons; Charlie's Angels; Hart to Hart; The Incredible Hulk; Fantasy Island; Quincy M.E.; Trapper John, M.D.; Night Court; and Dear John U.S.A.

When we're here, I'm enchanted to work in Hollywood. When we're in Montana, I don't care if I ever work again. If I could have my way, combine both, I'd be just as happy being a second-unit cameraman on a nature series.

— Jeanette Nolan

In 1935, Nolan married fellow actor John McIntire (star of TV's Wagon Train) and they had two children (son Tim was an actor - he died in 1986). They moved to Montana in 1937, where they continued to spend their most of their spare time until McIntire's death in 1991. The couple also appeared together in many films and TV shows.

During her TV acting career, she was nominated four times for a Primetime Emmy Award...

  • 1964 - Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
  • 1966 - Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Drama
  • 1974 - Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
  • 1978 - Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Drama Series

Nolan also won two Western Heritage Awards...

  • 1968 - Bronze Wrangler for the episode "Bitter Autumn" from the TV Series The Virginian
  • 1972 - Bronze Wrangler for the episode "Pike" from the TV series Gunsmoke

After the death of her husband, she continued to act and make public appearances. Jeanette Nolan died on 5 June 1998. After her death, a scholarship was established at the Theatre Arts Academy at Los Angeles City College in her name.

Cloak and Dagger (1984)

Macbeth (1948)

Macbeth [Blu-ray]
Macbeth [Blu-ray]

Jeanette Nolan stars as Lady Macbeth



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