Family & Companions
A veteran character actress, Jeanette Nolan capped her long career with a cameo appearance as the elderly mother of Tom Booker (played by Robert Redford) in "The Horse Whisperer" (1998), filmed in her adopted home state of Montana. The petite native of Los Angeles began her career as a teenager at the Pasadena Playhouse and by the time she was in college had begun appearing in radio dramas. Her debut was in one of the first transcontinental broadcasts, "Omar Khayyam" in 1932. Nolan went on to amass credits in such shows as "One Man's Family" and "Suspense." In the early 1930s she met and married fellow actor John McIntire; they moved to NYC in 1935 where each landed work on radio's "The March of Time." She and her husband purchased a ranch in Montana in 1937 where they spent much of their free time.
Nolan made an auspicious screen debut as Lady Macbeth to Orson Welles' "Macbeth" (1948) but the film was overshadowed by Olivier's "Hamlet" and Welles tinkered with his film, re-editing it and showing it around the country to mostly mixed reviews. (It took two years before "Macbeth" played NYC.) More recently, it has been re-evaluated and is considered a fine, although flawed, adaptation. Over the next 50 years, Nolan appeared in a number of films, often in supporting roles. She was the mother of Mickey Rooney' Lorenz Hart in the fictional biopic "Words and Music" (1948), teamed onscreen with her husband in the slightly maudlin "No Sad Songs for Me" (1950) and offered a strong turn as the widow of a suicidal cop in Fritz Lang's noir classic "The Big Heat" (1953). She later racked up credits in several Westerns, notably "Tribute to a Bad Man" and "Seventh Cavalry" (both 1956), as well as two for director John Ford, "Two Rode Together" (1961) and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962). As she aged, her film work slowed some. but Nolan found time to provide the vocals for two animated Disney films, creating Ellie Mae in "The Rescuers" (1977) and Widow Tweed in "The Fox and the Hound" (1981). McIntire and Nolan also played an elderly married couple in "Cloak and Dagger" (1984).
On TV, Nolan distinguished herself in a variety of roles, many in Westerns. She appeared in the first unsold pilot for "The Virginian" (NBC, 1958) before debuting as a series regular as the manager of a 19th Century Colorado rooming establishment in the CBS series "Hotel de Paree" (1959-60). Nolan was a regular player on the dramatic anthology "The Richard Boone Show" (NBC, 1963-64), garnering an Emmy nod for her lead role in the 1963 episode "Vote No on 11!." She created the role of Sally Fergus in a 1972 episode of "Gunsmoke" and later reprised it for the short-lived Western drama "Dirty Sally" (CBS, 1974), for which she earned her third Emmy nod. A fourth nomination came for her turn as Granny in the 1978 NBC miniseries "The Awakening Land." Nolan remained active into the late 80s, supporting Sally Field and William Hurt in the live NBC broadcast of "All the Way Home" (1981) and in episodes of such series as "The Golden Girls" (as the mother of Betty White's Rose) and "Cagney & Lacey" (as a woman accused of witchcraft). She died of complications from a stroke on June 5, 1998.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Met John McIntire
Moved to NYC; found work as a radio actress
Purchased a ranch in Montana
Cast opposite Orson Welles in his film adaptation of "Macbeth"
First onscreen teaming with husband "No Sad Songs for Me"
Had featured role in Fritz Lang's "The Big Heat"
Appeared in the original unsold pilot for "The Virginian" (NBC)
Played hotel manager Annette Devereaux in the CBS Western "Hotel de Paree"
Cast the mother of "The Great Imposter"
Provided the uncredited voice of Mrs. Bates in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho"
Appeared in the classic Western film "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"
Earned Emmy nomination for guest appearance on an episode of "I Spy"
Portrayed the mother of "Longstreet" in the ABC TV-movie introducing the character
Introduced the character of Sally Fergus on an episode of "Gunsmoke"
Starred in the short-lived CBS Western "Dirty Sally", reprising the role she created in 1972; received third Emmy nomination
Cast as the mother of Babe Didrikson in the CBS biopic "Babe"
Provided a character voice for Disney's animated "The Rescuers"
Played Granny McWhirter in the NBC miniseries "The Awakening Land"; received fourth Emmy nomination
Played the grandmother in the two-part ABC movie "Lassie: The New Beginning"
Had featured role in "True Confessions"
Voiced Widow Tweed in Disney's animated "The Fox and the Hound"
Supported Sally Field and William Hurt in the live NBC broadcast of "All the Way Home"
Final TV-movie, "The Wild Women of Chastity Gulch" (ABC)
Last film with McIntire "Cloak and Dagger"; played husband and wife; last film for five years
Appeared as Alma, mother to Rose (Betty White) in an episode of "The Golden Girls"
With McIntire, appeared in a memorable episode of "St. Elsewhere" as elderly patients
Portrayed a woman accused of witchcraft by her neighbors in an episode of "Cagney and Lacey" (CBS)
Returned to features in "Street Justice"
Last TV appearance in a guest shot on the NBC sitcom "Dear John"
Final feature appearance in cameo as Robert Redford's elderly mother in "The Horse Whisperer"