Saturday, October 22, 2011

Miss Mary Nolan

When I first heard about Mary, I heard about her under one of her other stage names, Imogene Wilson. Well..."Bubbles" Wilson actually, when she performed in the Ziegfeld Follies. She just seemed to be filled with a lot of sadness and struggles, you could see it in her eyes. Her name was plagued with scandal during most of her career, no matter which name she used.

I have visited her grave a few times, and even her grave is filled with sadness. She is entombed at the top of a doorway and it seems people have forgotten about her. But, we won't let that happen completely, will we? Noooooope!

Mary Nolan was born Mary Imogene Robertson on December 18, 1905 in Hickory Grove, Kentucky. Her mother died when she was still a child, and her father had to care for her and her brothers and sisters alone.

In order to help support herself and her family, she worked various jobs before moving to New York City in 1919. There she got a job as a model, and no wonder, because she was gorgeous! It was while working as a model that her life changed thanks to the man himself, Florenz Ziegfeld.

Ziegfeld spotted Mary one day and asked her to be in his Follies production. She of course agreed, but she also had to agree to a name change. This is when she began performing under the name of Imogene 'Bubbles' Wilson, and she became quite the star!

The positive side of fame didn't last too long because of a scandalous affair she was involved in. To help escape all of the negative publicity that began to come down on her head, she fled to Germany. While there, she appeared in a couple of films.

In 1927, Mary moved back to the States and appeared in films under the name Mary Nolan and was somewhat of a hit, but again, it didn't last long.

In 1933, she appeared in her last film and was involved in another messy scandal. This time it was with Eddie Mannix, a famous Hollywood producer. She sued him for $500,000 in pain and suffering and damages because she claimed her used to beat her.

Soon after, she moved back to New York and entered a home for struggling actors. She spent a few years there resting and recovering from everything that had been going on in her life. She moved back to Hollywood in 1939, but didn't do anything with show business. She simply chose to live quietly with her sister Mabel.

Mary Nolan passed away on October 31, 1948 from cardiac arrest and malnutrition. Shortly before her death, she began to use to drugs which attributed to her death at age 42. Apparently she only weighed around 90 lbs when she died.

She was interred at the Hollywood Forever cemetery.

Mary made quite a name for herself (and not in a positive way) because of her many affairs she had. Her first notable affair was with Frank Tinney, a comedian she met when she was in the Ziegfeld Follies. He was an abusive man she claimed, and even beat her to the point of hospitalization, but she came back to him time and time again. The reason why this affair was so scandalous was because Tinney was married to another actress named Edna Davenport. This was the scandal that caused Mary to be fired from the Follies.

Apparently she was married once, but I can't find any information other than that his name was Wallace McCreary, a fellow actor. They were still married when she passed away.

Mary once owed a piano that belonged to Rudolph Valentino. The piano was so large that it took up most of her living room. She greatly admired Valentino, and owned a view other possessions from his home. She also kept a picture of him on the piano.

Right before she died, she was in talks with various publishers and writers about selling her life story to be made into a movie or a book. I hope one day this will come to be, because what a life! I will play Mary of course :)

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

Mary looks beautiful in this picture, but what the hell is that statue?! It looks like some evil, warped, Disney character!


  1. Poor Mary. She had a difficult life. I have read some where she had become addicted to painkillers due ton a back injury at the hands of her abusive boyfriend Eddie Mannix. I can't wait for your movie debut )

  2. Yeah, I read that somewhere too I think. Poor girl, she fell for the worst type of men. I mean, I think all Mannix had going for him was the power he had, because he certainly wasn't a dashing gent (in my opinion at least).

  3. Never heard of her until now! Always love learning about characters from OLD Hollywood. Unfortunately, it is very often tragic.

  4. Hey Aitch! Glad to introduce you to somebody new. Unfortunately, Mary did have a tragic life, but we can look at how beautiful she was and just hope she is at peace now.

    Thank you again for reading my blog :)

  5. Hi Jessica,
    I hope you are doing well. Anyway, I found a newspaper article about Mary Nolan's marriage:,7531253&dq=mary+nolan&hl=en


  6. Thank you Theresa! And thank you also for the article about Allyn King. It is amazing there is still information about her around.

  7. Hi. I just found your blog when I Googled Mary Nolan's name. I read about her recently and yes, she was gorgeous.

    Her life was a tad more scandalous actually. She got fired from the Follies because of her, to put it lightly, dysfunctional affair with a comedian named Frank Tinney. Tinney was married so that was pretty scandalous but to top things off, he was arrested for beating her up. It pretty much ruined his career. It was a thoroughly sick relationship as it seems Nolan couldn't give him up. I think she got involved with him when she was in her teens.

    She seemed to really have a thing for men that treated her like crap. Unfortunately, she became addicted to pills which is what killed her in the end.

  8. Well hello! And glad you stumbled upon my little blog!
    Poor Mary. She was such a beauty and had a lot going for her, but like you said, she made the wrong choices when it comes to men.
    I stated it before but I will state it again, even her final resting place is tragic. It is in a dark area above a scary ass entryway that has been "under construction" for at least 3 years, and her name plate is all eroded. I make sure to say hello to her though.