Nancy Olson
Olson in Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Nancy Ann Olson

(1928-07-14) July 14, 1928 (age 95)
Other namesNancy Livingston
Years active1948–1984, 1997, 2014
(m. 1950; div. 1957)
(m. 1962; died 2009)

Nancy Ann Olson (born July 14, 1928) is an American retired actress. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Sunset Boulevard (1950). She co-starred with William Holden in four films, and later appeared in The Absent-Minded Professor (1961) and its sequel, Son of Flubber (1963), as well as the disaster film Airport 1975 (1974). Olson retired from acting in the mid-1980s, although she has made a few rare returns, most recently in 2014.

Early life

Olson was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 14, 1928, and raised there, along with her brother, David. [1]

Her parents were Evelyn Bertha (née Bergstrom), who was of Swedish descent, and Henry John Olson, a physician.[2]

Union Street (1950)
Olson in a 1956 Ford Star Jubilee TV special


This section of a biography of a living person does not include any references or sources. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately.Find sources: "Nancy Olson" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (June 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Olson was signed to a film contract by Paramount Pictures in 1948, and, after a few supporting roles, producers began to consider her for more prominent parts. She was up for the role of Delilah in Cecil B. DeMille's film Samson and Delilah (1949), for which Olson later said she was not suited. She was passed over in favor of Hedy Lamarr.

Her first big role came in Canadian Pacific (also 1949) with Randolph Scott, then Billy Wilder cast her for his upcoming project. In Sunset Boulevard (1950), she played Betty Schaefer, for which she gained an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Her pairing with William Holden was considered a success, and she appeared with him in three other films (Union Station, Force of Arms, and Submarine Command, the second and third released the following year), but none repeated their success in Sunset Boulevard.

Other film credits include Big Jim McLain (1952), So Big (1953), Battle Cry (1955), and Dumbbells (2014).

Olson made several appearances in films for the Walt Disney studio. The Absent-Minded Professor (1961) and Son of Flubber (1963) paired her with Fred MacMurray and were popular with movie-goers. She also appeared alongside Hayley Mills in Pollyanna (1960) and Dean Jones in Snowball Express (1972). Olson then moved to New York City where she appeared on Broadway.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, she did guest roles on television. Olson guest-starred on the Television series The Big Valley playing the mother of Ron Howard in the December 1, 1965, episode entitled Night of the Wolf. Olson is the only female guest starring on The Big Valley to ever marry the character Nick Barkley.

Olson has been retired since the mid-1980s, although she made a brief, uncredited appearance in Flubber, the 1997 remake of The Absent-Minded Professor.

Personal life

In 1950, Olson became the third wife of lyricist Alan Jay Lerner. They had two daughters, Liza and Jennifer.[3] They divorced in 1957.

In 1962, she married long-time Capitol Records executive Alan W. Livingston, best known for creating Bozo the Clown and for signing Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and other singers to Capitol. He died in 2009; they had one son, Christopher.[3]

Olson is a registered Democrat and has donated to the party under her married name.[4]



Year Title Role Notes
1949 Canadian Pacific Cecille Gautier
1950 Sunset Boulevard Betty Schaefer Nominated for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1950 Union Station Joyce Willecombe
1950 Mr. Music Katherine Holbrook
1951 Force of Arms Lt. Eleanor MacKay
1951 Submarine Command Carol
1952 Big Jim McLain Nancy Vallon
1953 So Big Dallas O'Mara
1954 The Boy from Oklahoma Katie Brannigan
1955 Battle Cry Mrs. Pat Rogers
1960 Pollyanna Nancy Furman
1961 The Absent-Minded Professor Betsy Carlisle
1963 Son of Flubber Elizabeth "Betsy" Brainard
1969 Smith! Norah Smith
1972 Snowball Express Sue Baxter
1974 Airport 1975 Mrs. Abbott
1982 Making Love Christine
1987 Sparky's Magic Piano voice Video
1997 Flubber Ford Secretary
2014 Dumbbells Bianca Cummings


Year Title Role Notes
1954 Ford Theatre Kitty O'Dare episode: "For the Love of Kitty"
1954 Lux Video Theatre Lisa episode: "Spent in Silence"
1954 The Best of Broadway Gwen Cavendish episode: "The Royal Family"
1955 Producers' Showcase Peggy Day episode: "The Women"
1956 Ford Star Jubilee Judith episode: "High Tor"
1958 The United States Steel Hour Joyce Richmond episode: "Second Chance"
1958 General Electric Theater Judith Gay episode: "The Last Rodeo"
1959 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Jan Manning Season 4 Episode 17: "Total Loss"
1960 Startime Peggy Thomas episode: "The Greatest Man Alive"
1961 Alcoa Premiere Amber Baring episode: "Family Outing"
1963 Channing Mrs. Landon episode: "Collision Course"
1965 The Big Valley Julia Jenkins episode: "Night of the Wolf"
1971 The Name of the Game Ann Latham episode: "Beware of the Watchdog"
1972 Gunsmoke Henrietta Donavan episode: "Yankton"
1972 Police Surgeon Judge episode: "Death Holds the Scale"
1973 Love Story Mrs. Ross episode: "Mirabelle's Summer"
1974 Banacek Louise Merrick episode: "Now You See Me, Now You Don't"
1975 The Streets of San Francisco Jeannie Morris episode: "Web of Lies"
1976 Kingston: Confidential Jessica Frazier TV series
1977 Barnaby Jones Thelma Thompson episode: "Testament of Power"
1984 Paper Dolls Marjorie Harper Main role, 13 episodes
2010 Big Love Katherine episode: "Strange Bedfellows"


  1. ^ Lees, Gene (2005). The Musical Worlds of Lerner and Loewe. University of Nebraska Press. p. 69. Retrieved 31 January 2022.
  2. ^ "Obstetrics Professor at UCLA Dies". Los Angeles Times. January 16, 1963. p. B15. ProQuest 168285701. Dr. Henry J. Olson, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the UCLA Medical School, died Tuesday at the age of 68. [...] He leaves his wife, Evelyn Gergstrom [sic]; a daughter, actress Nancy Olson; a son, David, and two grandchildren. See also:
  3. ^ a b Weber, Bruce (16 March 2009). "Alan W. Livingston, Talent Spotter Who Signed Beatles, Dies at 91". Retrieved 23 April 2018 – via
  4. ^ "Nancy Livingston - $300 in Political Contributions for 2000". Retrieved 23 April 2018.