Lloyd Nolan

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Lloyd Nolan
Lloyd Nolan Martin Kane Private Eye.jpg
Lloyd Benedict Nolan

(1902-08-11)August 11, 1902
San Francisco, California, U.S.
DiedSeptember 27, 1985(1985-09-27) (aged 83)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active1929–85
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 role 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 of Irish descent.[1] He attended Santa Clara Preparatory School[1] and Stanford University,[2] flunking out of Stanford as a freshman "because I never got around to attending any other class but dramatics."[3] 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."[4]

Nolan served in the United States Merchant Marine before joining the Dennis Players theatrical troupe in Cape Cod.[4] 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.

Film career[edit]

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 co-starred 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 essayed 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[edit]

Later in Nolan's 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 on 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.

Nolan appeared three times on NBC's Laramie Western series, as sheriff Tully Hatch in the episode "The Star Trail (1959), as outlaw Matt Dyer in the episode "Deadly Is the Night" (1961)[5] and then as former Union Army General George Barton in the episode "War Hero" (1962).[6]

Nolan starred in The Outer Limits episode "Soldier" written by Harlan Ellison. He appeared in the NBC Western Bonanza as LaDuke, a New Orleans detective. In 1967, Strother Martin and he 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, in the episode "The Masquerade" and in the first episode of Mannix.

Nolan co-starred from 1968 to 1971 in the pioneering NBC series Julia, with Diahann Carroll, who was the first African American to star in her own television series.[1]

One of his last appearances was a guest spot as himself in the 1984 episode "Cast in Steele" on the TV detective series Remington Steele.

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.[7][8]

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

Personal life[edit]

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 mandatory school prayer, following two decisions in 1962 and 1963 of the United States Supreme Court which struck down mandatory school prayer as conflicting 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]


A long-time cigar and pipe smoker, 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]

Complete filmography[edit]


Radio appearances[edit]

Year Program Episode/source
1945 Suspense "Murder for Myra"[13]
1945 Suspense "Nineteen Deacon Street"[14]
1947 Suspense "Green-Eyed Monster"[15]
1947 Suspense "Double Ugly"[16]
1952 Suspense The Man with Two Faces[17]
1953 Suspense Vial of Death[18]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Folkart, Burt A. (September 28, 1985). "Lloyd Nolan, the Actor's Actor, Dies". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  2. ^ "Lloyd Nolan at Cancer Kickoff Drive in S.M." San Mateo Times. April 26, 1973. p. 34. Retrieved June 11, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read
  3. ^ "Actor Lloyd Nolan Went Up In Lights the Very Hard Way". Brooklyn Eagle. July 4, 1943. p. 32. Retrieved June 11, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read
  4. ^ a b "His Parents Thought Acting a Risk, Preferring Shoe Business". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. September 3, 1933. p. 15. Retrieved June 11, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read
  5. ^ Laramie episode "Deadly Is the Night" on IMDb
  6. ^ Laramie episode "War Hero" on IMDb
  7. ^ "Lloyd Nolan | Hollywood Walk of Fame". www.walkoffame.com. Retrieved 2016-07-20.
  8. ^ Folkart, Burt A. (September 28, 1985). "Hollywood Star Walk: Lloyd Nolan". latimes.com. Retrieved 2016-07-20.
  9. ^ a b c ""The Washington Merry-Go-Round", Drew Pearson column, May 14, 1964" (PDF). dspace.wrlc.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 16, 2013. 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. open access publication – free to read
  11. ^ "Actor Lloyd Nolan Dies". The Galveston Daily News. September 29, 1985. p. 4. Retrieved June 11, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read
  12. ^ Hollywood and the Best of Los Angeles
  13. ^ http://www.escape-suspense.com/2008/07/suspense---murd.html open access publication – free to read
  14. ^ http://www.escape-suspense.com/2008/10/suspense---nineteen-deacon-street.html open access publication – free to read
  15. ^ http://www.escape-suspense.com/2009/01/suspense-green-eyed-monster.html open access publication – free to read
  16. ^ http://radiogoldindex.com/cgi-local/p2.cgi?ProgramName=Suspense open access publication – free to read
  17. ^ Kirby, Walter (December 14, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 54 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read
  18. ^ Kirby, Walter (May 17, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 48. Retrieved June 27, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication – free to read

Further reading[edit]

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

External links[edit]