Mary Nolan ~ The Out Of Control Actress

Mary Nolan

"I've had a beautiful life, I've tumbled into the most beautiful life in the world. I'd never change it." ~ Mary

Mary Nolan was born Mary Imogene Robertson on December 18, 1905 in Louisville, Kentucky. When she was a child her mother died from cancer and her father placed her in a foster home. Eventually she moved to New York City and began working as a nude model. Producer Florenz Ziegfeld discovered Mary and gave her a featured role in the Ziegfeld Follies. Using the stage named Bubbles Wilson she quickly became the Follies most popular dancer. She had a tumultuous affair with married actor Frank Tinney. In 1924 Frank beat her so badly that she had him arrested. The case caused a huge scandal and she was fired from the Ziegfeld Follies. She moved to Germany and began making movies under the name Imogene Robertson. Mary returned to the United states in 1927 and signed a contract with Universal. She costarred with Lon Chaney in West Of Zanzibar and with John Gilbert in Desert Nights. Her performances got great reviews and she became one of Hollywood's hottest starlets. She was given the lead role in the 1929 drama Shanghai Lady. At the peak of her fame she was earning $3000 a week. Mary started having an affair with married studio executive Eddie Mannix. When she became pregnant he forced her to have an abortion.

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Eddie was very abusive and one of his beatings put her in the hospital for several months. While Mary was recovering she became addicted to morphine. She was fired from the 1930 movie What Men Want after getting into a fight with the director. She made headlines again when she sued her ex-lover Eddie Mannix for pain and suffering. The bad publicity destroyed her career and she could only get parts in low budget films. She married stock broker Wallace T. McCreary in 1931 but they separated one year later. Her final acting role was in the 1933 mystery File 113. She moved to New York City and made a living singing in nightclubs. Mary was arrested several times and she was jailed in 1937 for failing to pay her bills. After overdosing on sedatives she spent a year in a psychiatric hospital. In early 1948 she was hospitalized for malnutrition. Tragically Mary died from a secanol overdose October 31, 1948.  She was only forty-two years old. At the time she was broke and weighed only ninety pounds. Next to her body was a child's poem and a handwritten note that said "If this were only true".The police said her death was either a suicide or an accident. She is buried at Hollywood Forever cemetery in Hollywood, California.


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Mary Nolan

Mary is one of many actresses who appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies and then died young. Was she a victim of the Ziegfeld Follies curse?