November 3, 1923|
Duluth, Minnesota, U.S.
|Died||January 14, 2010
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Nolte was born in Duluth, Minnesota and moved to Wayzata, Minnesota with his family in the early 1930s. He graduated from Wayzata High School in 1941 and performed in an acting company that later became Old Log Theater. He studied at the University of Minnesota for two years, then served in the United States Navy from 1943 until 1945. Upon his return, he enrolled at Yale University and majored in English with a minor in history.
Nolte made his Broadway debut in a production of Antony and Cleopatra, starring Katharine Cornell and featuring Charlton Heston, Maureen Stapleton and Tony Randall. But it was his role in the 1951 production of Billy Budd playing the title role that garnered him critical attention and acclaim. Nolte appeared in such films as War Paint (1953), The Steel Cage (1954), Ten Seconds to Hell (1959), and Under Ten Flags (1960).
Nolte returned to the University of Minnesota and earned his doctorate degree in 1966. He taught at the University of Minnesota from the mid-1960s through the late 1990s. He wrote the play Do Not Pass Go, which was produced off-Broadway, and wrote the librettos for two operas by Dominick Argento, The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe and Valentino.
In 2009, Nolte donated his personal papers, including his journals, manuscripts, personal photographs, lecture notes and films, to the Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies at the University of Minnesota.
According to long-time friend David Goldstein, Nolte died in Minneapolis listening to one of his favorite operas – a recording of Vincenzo Bellini's Norma. He had suffered from prostate cancer two years before. He was 86. He is survived by his partner of over 50 years, former English-American child actor Terry Kilburn.
In a statement made by David Goldstein, "Even as he was getting weak a few days ago, he was laughing and joking. Charles was such a multifaceted person who loved to tell stories, and he did it in the theater and film and opera. Above all, he was a good person."