12 times real-life couple John McIntire and Jeanette Nolan played a couple onscreen
They played lovers across many different decades during their 56-year marriage
Actors John McIntire and Jeanette Nolan were one of Hollywood’s most prolific couples. They tied the knot in 1935, a decade before either of their careers took off, and both took on small roles before becoming two of the most familiar character faces on television.
They appeared in countless projects separately and some where they had totally unrelated roles. For example, McIntire played the sheriff in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho while Nolan joined as the uncredited voice of Norma Bates.
But the times they acted side by side are the scenes that really shine. It didn’t take long for producers to take advantage of their natural chemistry and cast them as couples onscreen. It was a trend that continued for the rest of their careers.
Here are 12 times soulmates John McIntire and Jeanette Nolan played couples onscreen.
1. No Sad Songs for Me
The first time John McIntire and Jeanette Nolan appeared as a couple onscreen together was just a few years into both their careers. The 1950 movie No Sad Songs for Me stars Margaret Sullavan as a woman diagnosed with a terminal illness. McIntire plays the doctor who gives her the awful news and Nolan plays his wife, who becomes friends with Sullavan’s character.
2. Saddle Tramp
That same year, John and Jeanette played an Old West couple in the film Saddle Tramp. They appeared as old Jess Higgins and Ma Higgins, respectively. The most interesting trivia tidbit about this forgotten Western, however, is the name of the main character. Joel McCrea stars as free-wheeling rider Chuck Conner – just a few years before baseball player Chuck Connors would transition to acting and eventually star in The Rifleman.
3. Wagon Train
One of the most romantic yet tragic appearances of John and Jeanette together happened in the TV Western Wagon Train. “The Janet Hale Story” reveals wagon master Christopher Hale’s backstory. He once lived in a cabin with a loving wife and children. Nolan plays the title character in her first Wagon Train appearance. She guest starred again as two other characters in later episodes.
4. The Fugitive
The Fugitive episode “Ill Wind” not only stars Jeanette and John but their real-life son, Tim McIntire, as a musician named Jonesie. The story follows Richard Kimble as he leaves the company of a migrant worker couple (John McIntire and Jeanette Nolan) and their daughter. Even though the family told Kimble his secret was safe with them, they give up his location to Lt. Gerard.
The same year they worked together in The Fugitive, John, Jeanette and Tim also all appeared in the Bonanza episode “Old Charlie.” John plays the title character and Jeanette is tough and loyal wife. Tim has a dual role as an outlaw who gets shot and his brother comes shows up seeking revenge.
6. The Virginian
While they appeared together mostly as guest stars, John and Jeanette got to show their love onscreen in over two dozen episodes of The Virginian. John joined the show as ranch owner Clay Grainger, the second Western he was cast in to replace an actor that had passed away, and Jeanette played the lovely Holly Grainger. Nolan also appeared once on the series as a different character before her husband became a regular.
7. Love, American Style
In the Love, American Style anthology segment “Love and the Old Cowboy,” John McIntire plays a former cowboy actor known for his trick-riding abilities. Jeanette Nolan appears as a glamorous movie star who proclaims on TV that her costar from years prior never did any of his own stunts. When John McIntire’s Billy defiantly rides down a street on the studio lot flipping around his horse, Jeanette Nolan’s Ms. Daws reveals that she only said what she did to get him to come out of the woodwork and back into her life.
8. The Love Boat
In the Love Boat story “The Folks from Home,” John and Jeanette play an elderly couple from Dr. Bricker’s hometown. Bricker is delighted to see them but in a dramatic turn, must perform a dangerous operation on Jeanette’s character.
9. Charlie’s Angels
In the Charlie Angels episode “Angels on Vacation,” Jeanette and John play a power couple of sorts, at least in their tiny town mostly populated by “the older set.” They are Lydia and Paul Danvers, Kris’ aunt and uncle and the mayor and sheriff, respectively, of Paylon, Arizona. Of course, the relaxing smalltown trip the angels had planned turns into much more when gangsters show up and kidnap Sheriff Paul.
10. The Incredible Hulk
In a twist on their roles in The F.B.I., Jeanette plays the criminal in The Incredible Hulk episode “A Rock and a Hard Place” and John plays her ex-lover. Nolan also happens to be David Banner’s landlady in the episode and pulls him into her schemes. Leaning on Banner from the other side is John McIntire’s FBI agent wanting to arrest the criminal mastermind Banner is now in league with.
11. St. Elsewhere
Jeanette and John’s last appearance on TV together is also one of their sweetest. They play two elderly people who are now all alone in the world. Howie Mandel’s Dr. Fiscus keeps them company and in the end decides to introduce them. While at first Jeanette’s character is rude, John’s piano playing wins her over. The episode ends with them singing together.
12. The F.B.I.
Jeanette and John play husband and wife in The F.B.I. episode “The Last Job” but it is far from romantic. They are estranged, not least because John is a famous criminal who has been in prison for the last 27 years. When a gang breaks John out in order to pull off a robbery they have planned, he insists on seeing his wife before going through with it.