San Francisco, California
Cause of Death
Place of Death
Los Angeles, California
Profile Bio Text
t would no doubt be a real shock to most people that the rich baritone Bronx-like accent of great veteran character actor Lloyd Nolan was a product of San Francisco-not the urban swagger of New York City. Nolan was born in the City by the Bay to James Nolan, a successful shoe manufacturer from hard-working with Irish stock. Nolan caught the acting bug while at Santa Clara College - at the time, a junior college. He gained every bit of theatre experience he could, gaining his AA in the process. Though he continued on to Stanford, he was still focused on acting and soon flunked out from continued attention to acting opportunities rather than studies. Forsaking his father and the family shoe business, Nolan went to sea on a freighter, which soon burned, and then headed south to Hollywood.
Nolan continued to hone his acting by first taking up residence at the Pasadena Playhouse (1927). With his father`s passing he was able to sustain himself on a small inheritance. Continuing at PP and elsewhere in stock for two years, he then headed east to Broadway where he landed a role in a musical revue Cape Cod Follies in late 1929. He continued with two other similar roles through 1932 before breaking out with his acclaimed part as the less-than-wholesome small town dentist, Biff Grimes, in the original hit play One Sunday Afternoon (1933). He would stay on for two more plays until mid-1934 when he headed back back to Hollywood with heightened opportunities of success in the movies. His voice and that rock solid but somehow sympathetic face made Nolan an actor with whom the audience could immediately identify, and ahead was over 150 screen appearances. Nolan did not waste any time. He signed with Paramount and had five roles in 1935, getting the lead role in two and working with up-and-coming James Cagney and George Raft. In the next five years, Nolan was settling into his niche as solid and versatile in whatever he did. His genre was more B, but he was playing good guys and heavies with equal skill. The value on some B-level efforts were every bit as good as A-pictures. Everybody did at least a few B-pictures. Nolan was doing quality work, though efforts long-forgotten, as starring with A co-star Claire Trevor in King of Gamblers (1937) or as another king in King of Alcatraz (1938). He was a mainstay at Paramount until 1940, especially in competing with Warner Brothers in the popular gangster films. Unlike better known Cagney and Humphrey Bogart across town, Nolan`s bad and not-so-bad guys often had more depth, and again, it was that face along with verve and voice to back it up that brought it out.
Into the 1940s Nolan was moving around within the studio community, but he was taking on his more familiar, later character type as private detective, government man or police detective - hardboiled but understanding either way - and World War II action guy. In regard to the first, he landed the recurring role as Mike Shayne, private eye, for Twentieth Century Fox - there were seven films between 1940 and 1942. Nolan`s very able comedic ability with running wisecracks relieved the business end of the always on top of things Shayne. But Nolan is best known during the period as one of the familiar faces of World War II drama. The first is, at least to this observer, the best, but probably least known - Manila Calling (1942). It was a part of Hollywood`s concerted effort behind WWII morale with the subject matter of the Philippines, its conquest and liberation, as center stage in the War in the Pacific. Most films dealt with both retreat and return later in the war years; this 1942 film was perhaps the first to deal with the beginning and hope for the future. Nolan is the usual reliant, get-things-done professional here, ace communications technician trying to keep the radio airways open amid the onslaught of the Japanese invaders. Of all the flag-waving messages given in so many WWII films, none is as stirring as Nolan`s, who by the way, gets the girl, Carole Landis. It is she who stays behind with him while the rest of the radio team escapes with bombs falling. Microphone in hand and in his best hardboiled monotone Nolan spits out: "Manila calling, Manila calling - and I ain`t no Jap!" Significantly, Nolan appeared in several of the other films dealing with the struggle in the Pacific that are often mentioned.
By 1950 Nolan was ready for television. Nearly half of his roles would tally on that side of the ledger. In these later years his film list would amount to aging character roles offered by the movie industry. But no one was more enthusiastic about the potential of TV. Of course, the initiation of TV marked the first major revival of sound film of the 1930s and 40s. All those Saturdays chock-filled with films, usually adventure, for the first generation of TV kids. They could be impressed with Nolan at their own level, as their parents had been, and could revisit that pleasure during weeknight TV viewing
Santa Clara College, Stanford U.
Full Name at Birth
Lloyd Benedict Nolan
Henry Hathaway, Alan Ladd
Talent Agency (e.g. Modelling)
William Shiffrin agency
Schenley Blended Whiskey
Lloyd Benedict Nolan (August 11, 1902 – September 27, 1985) was an American film and television actor.
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