imogene wilson


The 2015 Vanity Fair Hollywood Portfolio ~ British Edition ~ March 2015 (pt.3)

(This is all of the pages scanned now, if anyone wants them posted separately please let me know. I have missed one page out by accident of Juliet Rylance & Mark Rylance, I will scan this later) 

Imogene Wilson in the cobra costume from the 1920 Ziegfeld Follies. Imogene Wilson had  an affair with married and older Frank Tinney, a leading singer with the Follies. Frank beat her many times, until finally Imogene took him to court. In classic battered woman syndrome, it wasn’t long before she was back with him. His wife sued for divorce and named Imogene as corespondent. This pretty much wrecked her career. A few years later Imogene turned up in Hollywood, renamed Mary Nolan, and began a career in films. By the 30’s she was drinking heavily, married a black doctor, and was consequently black-balled from the studios. After the divorce from the doctor her life propelled downhill and she died broke and alone. The poor girl was obviously alcoholic, and may have had mental health issues. As glamorous as the teens, twenties and thirties were, I thank God I live in a time of penicillin, medicine for mental health, Alcoholics Anonymous and battered women shelters and counseling. Times were rough for women then, and we mustn’t forget our unfortunate sisters of the past.

Mary Nolan (December 18, 1902 – October 31, 1948) was an American film actress. Nolan began her career as a Ziegfeld girl in the 1920s performing under the stage name Imogene “Bubbles” Wilson. She was fired from the Ziegfeld Follies in 1924 for her involvement in a tumultuous and highly publicized affair with comedian Frank Tinney. She left the United States shortly thereafter and began making films in Germany. She appeared in seventeen German films from 1925 to 1927 with a new stage name, “Imogene Robertson”.

She returned to the United States in 1927 and, in an attempt to distance herself from her old life, adopted yet another stage name, “Mary Nolan”. She was signed to Universal Pictures in 1928 where she found some success in films. By the 1930s, her acting career began to decline due to her drug abuse and reputation for being temperamental. After being bought out of contract with Universal, she was unable to secure film work with any major studios. Nolan spent the remainder of her acting career appearing in roles in low-budget films for independent studios. She made her final film appearance in 1933.

After her film career ended, Nolan appeared in vaudeville and performed in nightclubs and roadhouses around the United States. Her later years were plagued by drug problems and frequent hospitalizations. She returned to Hollywood in 1939 and spent her remaining years living in obscurity before dying of a barbiturate overdose in 1948.