Lloyd Nolan

Lloyd Nolan
Born Lloyd Benedict Nolan
(1902-08-11)August 11, 1902
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Died September 27, 1985(1985-09-27) (aged 83)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Lung cancer
Occupation Actor
Years active 193585
Spouse(s) Mell Efrid (1933-1981) (her death) 2 children
Virginia Dabney (1983-1985) (his death)

Lloyd Benedict Nolan (August 11, 1902 September 27, 1985) was an American film and television actor. Among his many roles, Nolan is remembered for originating the roles of private investigator Michael Shayne in a series of 1940s B Movies.


Nolan was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Margaret and James Nolan, who was a shoe manufacturer.[1] His parents disapproved of his choice of a career in acting, preferring that he join his father's shoe business, "one of the most solvent commercial firms in San Francisco."[2]

Nolan served in the United States Merchant Marine before joining the Dennis Players theatrical troupe in Cape Cod.[2] He began his career on stage and was subsequently lured to Hollywood, where he played mainly doctors, private detectives, and policemen in many film roles. He attended Santa Clara Preparatory School[1] and Stanford University,[3] flunking out of Stanford as a freshman "because I never got around to attending any other class but dramatics."[4]

He was a brother in the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Sigma Rho chapter).

Film career

Nolan's obituary in the Los Angeles Times contained the evaluation, "Nolan was to both critics and audiences the veteran actor who works often and well regardless of his material."[1] Although Nolan's acting was often praised by critics, he was, for the most part, relegated to B pictures. Despite this, Nolan costarred with a number of well-known actresses, among them Mae West, Dorothy McGuire, and former Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Gladys Swarthout. Under contract to Paramount and 20th Century Fox studios, he assayed starring roles in the late 30s and early-to-mid 40s and appeared as the title character in the Michael Shayne detective series. Raymond Chandler's novel The High Window was adapted from a Philip Marlowe adventure for the seventh film in the Michael Shayne series, Time to Kill (1942); the film was remade five years later as The Brasher Doubloon, truer to Chandler's original story, with George Montgomery as Marlowe.

Most of Nolan's films were light entertainment with an emphasis on action. His most famous include Atlantic Adventure, costarring Nancy Carroll; Ebb Tide; Wells Fargo; Every Day's a Holiday, starring Mae West; Bataan; and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, with Dorothy McGuire and James Dunn. He also gave a strong performance in the 1957 film Peyton Place with Lana Turner.

Nolan also contributed solid and key character parts in numerous other films. One, The House on 92nd Street, was a startling revelation to audiences in 1945. It was a conflation of several true incidents of attempted sabotage by the Nazi regime (incidents which the FBI was able to thwart during World War II), and many scenes were filmed on location in New York City, unusual at the time. Nolan portrayed FBI agent Briggs, and actual FBI employees interacted with Nolan throughout the film; he reprised the role in a subsequent 1948 movie, The Street with No Name.

One of the last of his many military roles was playing an admiral at the start of what proved to be Howard Hughes' favorite film, Ice Station Zebra.

Other endeavors

Later in his career, he returned to the stage and appeared on television to great acclaim in The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, for which he received a 1955 Emmy award for portraying Captain Queeg,[1] the role made famous by Humphrey Bogart. Nolan also made guest appearances in television shows including NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Bing Crosby Show, a sitcom on ABC and the Emmy-winning NBC anthology series The Barbara Stanwyck Show.

On February 8, 1960, Nolan received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in the television industry, at 1752 Vine Street.[5][6]

On November 7, 1961, Nolan played the outlaw Matt Dyer in the episode "Deadly Is the Night" on NBC's Laramie western series. Series character Jess Harper (Robert Fuller) stops at the former stagecoach outpost of Ma Tolliver, played by Olive Carey, to rest his lame horse. Suddenly Matt Dyer arrives with his gang and takes as hostage Jess, Ma, and her granddaughter, Sue, portrayed by Marlene Willis. The cruel Dyer proceeds to humiliate the hostages. When a posse arrives, Dyer tries to use Ma and Sue to prevent the storming of the house. However, the posse forces his hand, and the outlaws flee, but Jess keeps Dyer from running away.[7]

On October 2, 1962, Nolan appeared again on Laramie in the episode "War Hero" as former Union Army General George Barton, who arrives in Laramie as a potential candidate for President of the United States. Jess Harper halts an assassination attempt against the general, who recuperates at the Sherman Ranch. Joanna Barnes plays Barton's daughter, Lucy. Francis De Sales, Mort Mills, and Herbert Rudley also appear in this episode.[8]

Nolan starred in the classic 1964 episode "Soldier" of ABC's The Outer Limits, written by Harlan Ellison. He appeared in the NBC western Bonanza as LaDuke, a New Orleans detective. In 1967, he and Strother Martin guest starred in the episode "A Mighty Hunter Before the Lord" of NBC's The Road West series starring Barry Sullivan. Also in 1967, Nolan was a guest star in the popular western TV series The Virginian, episode "The Masquerade".

Nolan co-starred from 1968 to 1971 in the pioneering NBC series Julia, with Diahann Carroll, who became the first African American to star in her own television series outside of the role of a domestic worker.[1]

One of his last appearances was a guest spot as himself in the episode Cast in Steele on the TV detective series Remington Steele.

In his later years, Nolan appeared in commercials for Polident.

Personal life

In 1964, Nolan spoke at the "Project Prayer" rally attended by 2,500 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The gathering, which was hosted by Anthony Eisley, a star of ABC's Hawaiian Eye series, sought to flood the United States Congress with letters in support of public school prayer, following two decisions in 1962 and 1963 of the United States Supreme Court which struck down the practice as in conflict with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.[9]

Joining Nolan and Eisley at the rally were Walter Brennan, Rhonda Fleming, Dale Evans, Pat Boone, and Gloria Swanson. At the rally, Nolan asked, "Do we permit ourselves to be turned into a godless people, or do we preserve America as one nation under God?"[9] Eisley and Fleming added that John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Roy Rogers, Mary Pickford, Jane Russell, Ginger Rogers, and Pat Buttram would also have attended the rally had their schedules not been in conflict.[9] "Project Prayer" was ultimately unsuccessful in its campaign to keep public prayer in public schools.

Nolan founded the Jay Nolan Autistic Center (now known as Jay Nolan Community Services) in honor of his son, Jay, who had autism, and was chairman of the annual Save Autistic Children Telethon.


Nolan and his wife, Mell, had a daughter, Melinda, and a son, Jay.[10]


Nolan died of lung cancer on September 27, 1985 at his home in Brentwood, California;[11] he was 83.[1] He is interred at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, Los Angeles, California.[12]



Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1952 Suspense The Man with Two Faces[13]
1953 Suspense Vial of Death[14]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Folkart, Burt A. (September 28, 1985). "Lloyd Nolan, the Actor's Actor, Dies". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  2. 1 2 "His Parents Thought Acting a Risk, Preferring Shoe Business". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. September 3, 1933. p. 15. Retrieved June 11, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  3. "Lloyd Nolan at Cancer Kickoff Drive in S.M.". The Times. April 26, 1973. p. 34. Retrieved June 11, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  4. "Actor Lloyd Nolan Went Up In Lights the Very Hard Way". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. July 4, 1943. p. 32. Retrieved June 11, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  5. "Lloyd Nolan | Hollywood Walk of Fame". www.walkoffame.com. Retrieved 2016-07-20.
  6. "Lloyd Nolan". latimes.com. Retrieved 2016-07-20.
  7. "Laramie: Deadly Is the Night", November 7, 1961". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
  8. "Laramie: "War Hero", October 2, 1962". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  9. 1 2 3 ""The Washington Merry-Go-Round", Drew Pearson column, May 14, 1964" (PDF). dspace.wrlc.org. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  10. "Lloyd Nolan: Tough Movie Gangster Is Now Crusty Television Doctor". The Danville Register. September 2, 1969. p. 11. Retrieved June 11, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  11. "Actor Lloyd Nolan Dies". The Glaveston Daily News. September 29, 1985. p. 4. Retrieved June 11, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  12. "Lloyd Nolan (1902 - 1985) - Find A Grave Memorial". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2016-07-20.
  13. Kirby, Walter (December 14, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 54 via Newspapers.com.
  14. Kirby, Walter (May 17, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 48. Retrieved June 27, 2015 via Newspapers.com.

Further reading

Lloyd Nolan: An Actor's Life With Meaning, by Joel Blumberg and Sandra Grabman. BearManor Media, Albany, 2010. ISBN 1-59393-600-1.

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