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Nancy Olson Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trivia (8)  | Personal Quotes (3)  | Salary (1)

Overview (2)

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Height 5' 6" (1.68 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Milwaukee-born Nancy Ann Olson was the daughter of Henry, a physician, and Evelyn Olson, and educated at the University of Wisconsin. Discovered on stage after transferring to California's UCLA, the pretty, peaches-and-cream blonde was quickly signed by Paramount Studios in 1948 and almost immediately handed co-starring parts after an uncredited bit part in Portrait of Jennie (1948).

After playing in the film Canadian Pacific (1949), Olson went on to win the role of script girl Betty Schaefer, who attracts never-do-well screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) and irks the reclusive and increasingly deranged former film star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) in the towering classic Sunset Blvd. (1950). Olson received an Oscar nomination for "Best Supporting Actress" for her role. Her pairing with Holden, in fact, went over so well, they were teamed in a succession of standard features: Union Station (1950), Force of Arms (1951), and Submarine Command (1951), none holding a candle to their "Sunset" pairing. Other male co-stars during this active period included John Wayne as Big Jim McLain (1952), Steve Forrest in So Big (1953) (one of her finer post "Sunset" roles), and Will Rogers Jr. in The Boy from Oklahoma (1954).

Her increasing status in Hollywood came to a virtual halt in the mid-1950s, after marrying renowned lyricist Alan Jay Lerner (who later wrote "On a Clear Day..." and "Camelot"). She abruptly put her acting on hold in favor of raising their two daughters and her career never fully recovered. The couple divorced in 1957 and she decided to return full-time to acting but by the late 1950s she was perceived as too mature to now play the fresh-faced, girl-next-door type for which she was so identified.

Disney Studios came to the rescue, however, in the early 1960s and gave her mid-career an added luster by playing Fred MacMurray love interest in both The Absent Minded Professor (1961) and Son of Flubber (1963). Her poise, charm and ever-animated appeal was absolutely in sync with the studio's squeaky-clean image, and adding just the right amount of feisty, feminine starch for the light slapstick happenings around her. Other Disney films in which she participated included Pollyanna (1960) and Snowball Express (1972). She also made an uncredited cameo appearance in the Flubber (1997) remake starring Robin Williams.

Olson went on to find sunny work on Broadway, notably in the plays "The Tunnel of Love," "Send Me No Flowers" and "Mary, Mary". In the 1970s and 1980s, she came back with a couple of secondary parts on regular series TV, but the shows were both short-lived. She retired for all intents and purposes in the mid-1980s. Her second marriage in 1962 to record executive Alan Livingston, who also created the TV character of Bozo the Clown, was long lasting (he died in 2009) and their son, Christopher Livingston has three film credits as, variously, director, editor, cinematographer, producer and actor.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (2)

Alan Livingston (1 September 1962 - 13 March 2009) ( his death) ( 1 child)
Alan Jay Lerner (19 March 1950 - 1957) ( divorced) ( 2 children)

Trivia (8)

She was added to the Wall of Inspiration at her old high school, Wauwatosa East High School.
Sister-in-law of Jay Livingston.
Her then-husband Alan Jay Lerner's 1956 iconic smash hit musical, "My Fair Lady", was dedicated "For Nancy, With Love".
Was up for the role of Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille's lavish 1949 costumer Samson and Delilah (1949), for which she candidly admitted she was not suited. Hedy Lamarr got the role.
Honored for fundraising efforts on behalf of The Center Theatre Group (LA). [November 1996]
Since the 2015 death of co-writer D.M. Marshman Jr., Olson has been the last surviving credited cast member of Sunset Blvd. (1950).
Gave birth to her 1st child at age 23, a daughter Liza Lerner on October 12, 1951 and to her 2nd child at age 25, a daughter Jennifer Lerner on August 26, 1953 (both by Olson's first husband, Alan Jay Lerner). She gave birth to her 3rd child at age 36, a son Christopher Livingston on November 13, 1964; his father was Olson's second husband, Alan Livingston.
As of 2016, she is the fourth earliest surviving recipient of a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination, behind only Olivia de Havilland, Angela Lansbury and Ann Blyth. She was nominated in 1950 for Sunset Blvd. (1950).

Personal Quotes (3)

I'll tell you a funny story. Cecil B. DeMille -I'm laughing when I'm saying this- considered me to play Delilah in Samson and Delilah, and thank God he made the right choice and he put Hedy Lamarr in that role.
I felt my life was absolutely closed in. I spent two hours with makeup men and hairdressers and then I would go on the set and sit and wait. My friends were having a life outside. I said, 'I don't really want to be a movie star.'
Billy Wilder did something unusual before I was cast. I would be walking through the streets of Paramount on my way to the commissary where I would watch everybody enter. He would catch up with me and he asked me what I was studying in school and what UCLA was like. It wasn't until years later I thought, 'How did I get into that movie?' I think it was that the role of Betty Schaefer is a young woman who is an aspiring writer. He thought that maybe that could be believable with me.

Salary (1)

Sunset Blvd. (1950) $5,000

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