Childhood & Early Life
Jeanette Nolan was born in Los Angeles, California, on December 30, 1911, to Ada and Edward Nolan. She was always interested in the prospect of becoming an actor. As a teenager, she started acting at ‘Pasadena Playhouse,’ in Pasadena, California, where she lived with her parents at that time.
She completed high school and also enrolled at the ‘Los Angeles City College,’ where she developed a keen interest in radio broadcasting, too. Also aspiring to become an actor, she started her radio career in 1932.
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In the early 1930s, during the golden age of radio in America, Jeanette grew popular through her show ‘Omar Khaiyyam,’ which was aired from the ‘KHJ’ station. Her rising popularity on radio resulted in many more offers from radio shows such as ‘Young Doctor Malone,’ ‘Cavalcade of America,’ ‘One Man’s Family,’ and ‘The Great Gildersleeve.’
She was discovered by legendary director Orson Welles, who was making his own version of William Shakespeare’s classic play ‘Macbeth.’ The historical war-drama film had Orson playing the titular role, with Jeanette appearing as ‘Lady Macbeth.’ The film received bad reviews after its release. However, over time, it has become a cult classic.
Despite the abysmal failure of the film, Jeanette’s film career soared with supporting roles in films such as ‘Abandoned,’ ‘Saddle Tramp,’ ‘No Sad Songs for Me,’ and ‘The Happy Time.’ Although she gained considerable success in the films, she was far more successful on TV.
In the mid-1950s, she appeared in the religion anthology series titled ‘Crossroads’ and then made a guest appearance in the series titled ‘Crusader.’ She then made small appearances in series such as ‘State Trooper,’ ‘Rebel,’ ‘Richard Diamond, Private Detective,’ and ‘Peter Gunn.’
In 1959, she earned her major TV breakthrough with the role of ‘Annette Deveraux’ in the western drama series titled ‘Hotel de Paree.’ She portrayed the role of the co-owner of ‘Hotel de Paree,’ which was one of the main roles of the film. She then appeared in a guest role in another western series, ‘Have Gun – Will Travel.’
One of her other notable series was ‘Perry Mason,’ a legal drama series, in which she played guest roles in six episodes, including ‘The Case of the Fugitive Nurse,’ ‘The Case of the Nine Dolls,’ ‘The Case of the Counterfeit Crank,’ ‘The Case of the Betrayed Bride,’ and ‘The Case of the Fugitive Fraulein.’ In addition, she also appeared in other crime series such as ‘Thriller’ and ‘Bourbon Street Beat.’
In the early 1960s, she appeared in the crime drama ‘Target: The Corruptors!,’ a medical drama titled ‘The Eleventh Hour,’ and the anthology series ‘GE True.’ Apart from her fictional roles, she was an integral part of ‘The Richard Boone Show’ and appeared in 13 episodes of the series.
Despite being a popular character actor, Jeanette did not get too many leading roles. In the 1960s, she continued with supporting/guest roles in series such as ‘Dr. Kildare,’ ‘The Twilight Zone,’ and ‘The Real McCoys.’
In the late 1960s, she appeared in a few episodes of the sitcom ‘The Mothers-in-Law,’ and in 1974, she made a brief yet significant appearance in the comedy–drama western series ‘Dirty Sally.’ It was a spin-off of her earlier series, ‘Gunsmoke,’ in which she had played a significant role.
In addition to appearing on TV, she also continued to earn film roles. She worked in the films throughout the 1970s, playing supporting roles in films such as ‘The Manitou’ and ‘Avalanche.’ She also played the titular role in the 1973 student short film ‘Peege’.
She worked throughout the 1980s and the 1990s, too. Her final film was ‘The Horse Whisperer,’ in which she played the role of the elderly ‘Ellen Booker.’ The film received mixed to positive reviews.
Jeanette was known as one of the most talented and beautiful supporting actors of her time. She had appeared in more than 300 TV series throughout her 5-decade-long acting career. She also received four ‘Emmy Award’ nominations but did not win any.