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Noreen NashNOREEN NASH

Beautiful, talented Noreen Nash was born April 4, 1924, in Wenatchee, WA. “My real name is Noreen Roth, but after I played J. Carrol Naish’s daughter in a film, ‘The Southerner’, my agent suggested changing it to Noreen Nash (without the “I”). Everything was alliteration in those days—Greer Garson, Marilyn Monroe, thus Noreen Nash.”

Noreen Nash as J. Carol Naish's daughter in "The Southerner" ('45).Noreen’s entrance into pictures was a fairy-tale story. “I was named Apple Blossom Queen in Wenatchee, and came down to Los Angeles. Bob Hope’s agent saw me and got me a screen test at Warner Bros. I’d gone back home to finish high school, then came back to California. Warners didn’t sign me, but MGM offered me a stock contract as a show girl. I didn’t want that, and turned it down. I was going to go back home when Louis Shurr told me to take the contract; that MGM would train you, give you dramatic lessons, the whole thing…all expenses paid, and you earned a salary, as well! So I did, and my first part was in ‘Girl Crazy’ with Mickey Rooney.”

Noreen’s first western was the Cinecolored “Red Stallion” with Robert Paige. “It was directed by Lesley Selander. I eventually did several films with him. He was fun. We always had a great time. The locations were great—and we always—every night—had dinner together. Les and, in the case of ‘Red Stallion’, Bob Paige as well. My mother was on location  (near Mt. Shasta and in Dunsmuir, CA) with me, as well as my year-and-a-half old son, so they were at these dinners, too. Les kept the locations going happily. Les didn’t take it that seriously. We just had fun. Les had a zest for life.”

The cast of "Red Stallion" ('47 Eagle Lion)--Robert Bice, Robert Paige, Noreen Nash, Pierre Watkin, Jane Darwell and Daisy the dog (so named because of his appearances in Columbia's long running Blondie movie series.)

It’s written in AFI catalogs that bad weather delayed production and cost producers an extra $500,000 but Noreen says, “We only had a couple of days bad weather. I don’t know where the idea about the budget rising came from.”

Selander crossed paths with Noreen again when she appeared in two of the highly popular Tim Holt westerns, “Storm Over Wyoming” and “Road Agent”. “Storm…” was filmed at the Jack Garner Ranch, “…up near Bishop, CA. My husband flew into Reno so we could have the weekend together. When I went off to see him, the cast and crew would throw rice, as if we were going on our honeymoon! Of course, Les Selander and I renewed our good friendship and had our nightly dinners together. Tim Holt was an awfully nice man, but I got to know his sidekick, Richard Martin, much better. On locations, Dick and I had more to talk about—we had more things in common. Tim was sort of a loner. Dick was very out-going and fun to be with. This was a friendship—not romantic, as we were both married. But on screen, I even got to kiss Tim Holt!”

Noreen Nash with Richard Martin and Tim Holt in RKO's "Storm Over Wyoming" ('50).

Wealthy heiress and leader of the Hooded Bandits, Noreen Nash, in a tense moment with her underboss Douglas Kennedy and The Lone Ranger (Clayton Moore) in disguise in "The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold" ('58 WB).Noreen also got to kiss her foreman and evil cohort, Douglas Kennedy, as well as play a bad girl, for a change, in “The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold.”. “I also played a bad girl in a ‘San Francisco Beat’. I enjoyed playing bad girls; it was fun. However, as a result, I didn’t let my two sons see that ‘Lone Ranger’ picture—and neither did see it, until they were big teenagers. That was mainly because of my killing Douglas Kennedy with that axe! My oldest son was in Mexico one time and saw it on TV—in Spanish. He came back and told me, ‘Mom, you sure speak Spanish great.’ (Laughs) Then my other son was in France, and saw it on French TV! In fact, I had more to do with Douglas Kennedy than with Clayton Moore or Jay Silverheels, so I don’t recall much about the Lone Ranger and Tonto. But Clayton was a lovely gentleman. He had a lot of dignity and charm. He was aloof, so I didn’t get to really know him, but it was fun, working with him.”

When reminded Moore mentioned, in his autobiography, that Noreen’s husband had doctored his black eye back in 1940, Noreen relates, “I was married to Dr. Lee Siegal, from 1942 until his death a few years ago. He was a doctor to several stars and could have told you many more stories than I can! What I remember most about the film are the changes in my personal life, because my mother-in-law died while I was on location at Old Tucson, Arizona! So, it seems like another life to me now. All the experiences were pleasant; I never had any fights or anything; just a good time.”

One of her earlier films was “The Devil On Wheels” with Darryl Hickman and Jan Ford. “Jan became Terry Moore, of course, and I see her from time-to-time. Darryl is doing just great as an acting coach! In fact, my grandson decided to be an actor, and I sent him to Darryl, who is a great actor himself!”

In 1948, Noreen appeared opposite Turhan Bey in “Adventures of Casanova”. “I have vivid memories of that. We shot it in Mexico. This is the one that went over budget. The Mexicans took their time doing everything from makeup to lighting. My brother-in-law brought my son down to visit me. Well, it seems if you bring a child into their country, you must also take it back with you when you leave. Otherwise they consider it a kidnapping! I had to go to court and prove I was his mother! The judge asked him, ‘Who is that lady’ and my two-year-old son kept saying, ‘Noreen Nash.’ He wouldn’t say I was his mother. So I learned to never take my child out of the country again! (Laughs)”

“Another funny thing about that picture involved Turhan Bey. He was dating Linda Christian at the time, and the president (or ex-president) of Mexico liked Linda, too! There were threats, and Turhan had to say to producer Byrnie Foy, ‘I’m afraid for my life. I have to leave Mexico.’ So, they rewrote the script. There’s a scene where I’m crying over Turhan, who has been killed off in the script! (Laughs)”

“Giant” is one of Noreen’s biggest pictures. “What I remember most is, by the time I got on the picture, director George Stevens and James Dean were at each other. Dean did his usual mumbling and Stevens kept saying, ‘This script cost a lot of money. I want to hear those words!’ George didn’t like James’ style of acting! Dennis Hopper was also in it—one of his first pictures. I’ve seen him around over the years. In fact, in 1996, the Academy had a screening of a ‘restored’ print, and most of us cast members, who were still living, attended.”

Noreen's unremembered passionate kiss with Jock Mahoney on "Yancy Derringer: Belle from Boston" ('58).Noreen also appeared on a lot of television programs, including two “Yancy Derringer” episodes with Jock Mahoney. I asked if she recalled three rather lengthy, passionate kisses with Jock. She laughed, “You know, I cannot remember that at all. I’m beginning to worry about myself, not remembering that kiss with Jock! But, this was around the time I was about to retire, so maybe that’s the reason I forgot it. What I do remember about ‘Yancy Derringer’ was that something was about to fall on me, and Jock ran and grabbed me just in the nick of time! (An incident in the script of “Belle From Boston”—ed.) I still see Frances Bergen, who was a regular on the show, from time to time.”

Noreen feels her life at home was more important than working in pictures. “I loved working; I had a wonderful time doing it. In one of my last roles, a live TV appearance, I commit suicide over Vincent Price. My son said, ‘Mother, I think they’re trying to tell you something.’ (Laughs). I thought about going to college, since I went from high school into work and marriage, but I told my son I’d be in my 40s before I got out. He told me I’d be in my 40’s whether or not I went, so I attended UCLA and graduated after 5 1/2 years—as I still had my family responsibilities. In fact, my youngest son, who went through the same school in only 3 years, graduated the same year I did! In 1980, I wrote a book, BY LOVE FULFILLED.

Noreen’s Western Filmography


Movies: Red Stallion (‘47 Eagle-Lion)—Robert Paige; Storm Over Wyoming (‘50 RKO)—Tim Holt; Road Agent (‘52 RKO)—Tim Holt; Giant (‘56 WB)—Rock Hudson; Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold (‘58 UA)—Clayton Moore. TV: Yancy Derringer: Belle From Boston (‘58); Yancy Derringer: Fire On the Frontier (‘59).

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