Mary Nolan (1920s Starlet)


"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 Mary's 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 her and gave her a featured role in the Ziegfeld Follies. Using the stage named Bubbles Wilson she quickly became the Follies most popular dancer. Mary had a tumultuous romance with actor Frank Tinney who was married. In 1924 Frank beat Mary so badly that she had him arrested. The case caused a huge scandal and Mary 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 most sought after starlets. In 1929 she was given the lead role in the drama Shanghai Lady. She was now 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. 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. In 1930 she was fired from the 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. Mary was found dead in her Hollywood apartment on October 31, 1948. Next to her body was a child's poem and a handwritten note that said "If this were only true". She had died from a secanol overdose at the young age of forty-two. The police said her death was either a suicide or an accident. She is buried at Hollywood Forever cemetery in Hollywood, California.