What A Character Blogathon!… is back 2013- The unique Jeanette Nolan!

What A Character Blogathon 2013!


Hosted by Once Upon A Screen- Outspoken & Freckled & Paula’s Cinema Club

As these fabulous bloggers say -“They are eccentric. They are unusual.  AND they are BACK!”

Character actors are the grease that spins the wheels of cinematic & television memories. I am so thrilled to be participating in this blogathon, because there are a lot of unsung actors that deserve recognition. Though it was a tough decision, I decided to focus on the inimitable Jeanette Nolan!

Jeanette Nolan

Jeanette Nolan as the tightly wound housekeeper Mrs Peck in one of my all time favorite Columbo episodes Double Shock-“Yes, thank you I’m extremely fond of health cookies”-Columbo

Jeanette Nolan just kept popping up for me in film and television episodes until I couldn’t resist her often irascible charms, and quirky yet dignified demeanor. Okay okay, she’s played a truly bona fide hag at times. No one cackles and frets quite like a Jeanette Nolan crone.

La Strega Jeanette Nolan
Jeanette Nolan in Boris Karloff’s 60s television show Thriller episode -La Strega

But, don’t let that fool you into thinking that she didn’t have an incredible depth and range of characterizations filled with heart and a sharply honed instinct for creating an atmosphere that drew you into it’s orbit, even when she was on the periphery of the plot and the main stars in the story.

I adore this woman and I’m so glad I get to share more than just a few of the memorable moments in Jeanette Nolan’s long career.

Jeanette Nolan was born in 1911 in Los Angeles California, She began her acting career in the Pasadena Community Playhouse.She made her film debut as Lady Macbeth in Orson Welles’ 1948 film version of Macbeth.

Jeanette Nolan Lady Macbeth
Jeanette Nolan as Lady Macbeth in Orson Welles’ production of Macbeth
Jeanette Nolan The Secret of Convict Lake Harriet
Jeanette Nolan as Harriet Purcell in The Secret of Convict Lake 1951
Nora Ericson The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Jeanette Nolan as Nora Ericson in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 1962
Jeanette Nolan as Mrs. Ewing Perryman in Chamber of Horrors 1966

Before her death at age 86 due to a stroke on June 5th, 1998 her career encompassed so many varied roles. Her last performance was in Robert Redford’s film The Horse Whisperer, where she plays Tom Booker’s mother “Ellen.” She played Bertha Duncan in The Big Heat 1953 and Nora Ericson in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 1962

If you can imagine she brought to life some of the most interesting characters in over more than 300 television shows. From Perry Mason, Doctor Kildare, Boris Karloff’s Thriller, Medical Center, The Twilight Zone, Naked City, I Spy, The Mother’s In-Law,  Ironside, Have Gun Will Travel, Gunsmoke, The Fugitive & Columbo and even played Rose Nyland’s (Bette White) mother Alma Lindstrom on The Golden Girls  just to name a few. Jeanette Nolan earned four Emmy nominations.

Nolan was married to actor John McIntire who died in 1991. And… Nolan actually provided the screams for Norman’s “mother” in Psycho (1960) Husband John played Sheriff Chambers.

Here’s Jeanette Nolan in one of Columbo’s memorable episodes ‘Double Shock’ as Mrs Peck who keeps a very tidy house.

As the oddball Annie in Dr. Kildare’s The Hand that Hurts, The Hand that Heals 1964

Jeanette as Bernadine Spalding in Emergency! Weird Wednesday 1972

As Dirty Sally Fergus on Gunsmoke

As Mary Fitzgibbons in ‘Triumph’ The Alfred Hitchcock Hour 1964

As Edith Beggs in Coming Home Alfred Hitchcock Presents 1961

As Hallie in The Secret- Medical Center 1972

As Mrs Fleming in The Reluctant Astronaut 1967

Jeanette Nolan as Miss Havergill The Invaders

As Mrs Grimes in The Right Kind of House- Alfred Hitchcock Presents

As Naomi Kellin in ‘Ill Wind’ The Fugitive

Jeanette Nolan in Wagon Train- “The Janet Hale Story”

As Granny Harrad in Boris Karloff’s television anthology series Thriller- “Parasite Mansion’

Jeanette Nolan as Mrs Downey in Say Goodbye Maggie Cole Tv Movie 1972

As Bertha Duncan in 1953 film noir classic The Big Heat

As Granny Hart in Twilight Zone’s ‘Jess-Belle

As Lady Macbeth in Orson Welles’ Macbeth

As Mrs Tibbit in Marcus Welby MD “Epidemic”

As Mrs Waddle in Rod Serling’s Night Gallery episode “The Housekeeper”

As Mrs Fitzgibbons in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour “Triumph’

Jeanette Nolan in Rod Serling’s Night Gallery “Since Aunt Ada Came To Stay”

As Judge Millie Cox in The Streets of San Fransisco “The Runaways”

Jeanette Nolan as Granny Harrad in Boris Karloff’s Thriller ‘Parasite Mansion’

Jeanette Nolan as Emma ‘Martha’ Benson in Perry Mason’s The Case of the Nine Dolls

Jeanette Nolas as Mrs Trotter in Alfred Hitchcock Presents “The Morning After”

As Edna Brackett in Quincy M.E. with husband John McIntire

Here’s to the inimitable character- Jeanette Nolan!!! Love Joey

14 thoughts on “What A Character Blogathon!… is back 2013- The unique Jeanette Nolan!

  1. What a busy actor!

    What I find remarkable, in going through your clips, is that she seems to transform her look with each new character. I didn’t recognize her, at first, in some of these. So glad you highlighted her in this blogathon — will have to learn more about her.

    1. I totally agree with you. One of the things that left such an impression on me was finding out that she wasn’t an old crone! She’s has an underrated range of characters that always seem bigger than the part itself. A beautiful lady who took a lot of risks with the parts she played never afraid of being the hag or the heroine. Thanks kiddoe, I always appreciate your comments here

  2. When I was a little girl I used to like to pretend, because we shared a surname, that I was somehow related to the talent Jeanette Nolan.

    Thank you so much for providing all of those clips. Nothing describes someone’s talent better than being able to experience it first-hand.

  3. Patricia- that’s so darn cute that you used to pretend to be related to her. She’s a grand gal I think and I bet she’d a been proud to be a relative… Glad you liked the clips. I thought the same thing. Just show people the vast amount of work she’s done in snippets and let her amazing presence speak for itself!

  4. You had me at COLUMBO!!! HOW I LOVE HIM!! And and major WOW for Ms. Nolan’s career! I’ve seen most of the roles you mention yet never put together it was the same actress. Wonderful talent and you pay her great tribute! Such a great addition to the blogation, Joey! Thanks so much. :)

    1. I thought of you and Columbo thus the grand intro with Mrs Peck. She had such a large presence that sort of infiltrated everything, but so many people didn’t realize she was the same person. A wonderful chameleon – so happy you let me join in- cheers It was a blast

  5. she was wonderful, I’m a big fan. What talent in that marriage, since McIntire was fantastic too. Remember her from Words & Music and of course Big Heat and many others. I recently re-viewed Secret of Convict Lake to post about, and she was so good there, many good performances in a kind of little known movie. BUT what a cool fact about the Psycho screams, I had no idea.

    1. Kristina! So glad you agree she’s a talent and her husband McIntire too. They were great together in one of the last episodes of Quincy M.E as a toxic married couple. Great fun. I’ve got Secret of Convict Lake on my to watch list too… And until I delved into her career I had no idea she was the voice of Mrs Bates… Just love the lady…

  6. Too bad these TV shows are hard to find here in Brazil. Yet, I can recognize Jeanette Nolan from The Man who Shot Liberty Valance.
    Don’t forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! :)

      1. Le- Wonderful post for the Chaney Blogathon!!!! So glad you covered The Penalty. It’s one of my favorite Chaney Sr films and your piece was just fantastic!!!! Cheers Joey

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