Anne Nagel

Ann Nagel Born Anne Dolan in Boston, Massachusetts on 29 September 1915. Although her parents initially encouraged her to be a nun, an interest in modeling and dance eventually led her toward a career in the performing arts. Nagel found her way to Hollywood in the early 1930's when her stepfather was employed as a technicolor expert by the Tiffany Studios. The 5'4" beauty attained her first screen work in the shorts he was directing. Soon, she was placed under contract by Warner Brothers, and began a string of mostly unbilled appearances in their features, usually as a chorus girl or dancer. One of Anne's most memorable roles was that of Lenore Case in "The Green Hornet." Starring Gordon Jones and Keye Luke, it stands as one of the studios finest chapterplays, and perhaps second only to the Flash Gordon series in popularity.

It quickly inspired a follow up, released in 1940 as "The Green Hornet Strikes Again." Nagel again reprised her role as Lenore Case, with Keye Luke returning as Kato. However Anne is perhaps most fondly remembered today for her horror film work while at Universal. In 1940, she was cast alongside Boris Karloff, Stanley Ridges and Bela Lugosi in "Black Friday." Her portrayal of Sunny Rogers, girlfriend of gangster and cold-blooded killer Red Cannon (Ridges), is quite good. In spite of the fact that she betrays her suitor to his rival, Marnay (Lugosi), one still feels a twinge of compassion for her when Cannon does her in. Clearly, her character is afraid of the ruthless criminals in her life, yet drawn to the trinkets they provide and the promises of a better existence than that of a nightclub singer. Also in 1940, she had a minor role in the comedy "The Invisible Woman." Nagel, the soon to be a star Maria Montez, and the lovely Kathryn Adams were cast as co-workers of title character Virginia Bruce.
Her next encounter with a Universal horror film was much more substantial. In 1941 she attained the female lead in "Man Made Monster,"a role that the studio had initially assigned to Anne Gwynne.

  When a replacement was urgently needed for "Melody Lane," already in production, the studio assigned Gwynne to that picture, and pressed Nagel into service for their upcoming thriller. Directed by George Waggner, "Man Made Monster" helped transform Lon Chaney, Jr. into a bona fide horror film star, and began Waggner's ascension into the upper echelon of Universal's producers and directors. Nagel's performance ranks as one of the finest of the 1940's by a leading lady in the genre. The titian haired actress is totally believable in the part, and imbues her role with charm, tenaciousness and appeal. Her appearance in the 1942 release of "The Mad Doctor of Market Street" was so small that one has a hard time remembering that she was in the picture at all. As the tearful spouse of mad scientist Lionel Atwill's initial human guinea pig, Nagel is only visible for the first few minutes of the film. One of her other more memorable films of this period was "The Mad Monster," also released that year. In it, George Zucco performs his experiments on Glenn Strange, converting him into an overall clad beast. While not an outstanding film, this cheaply made effort has attained cult status to some degree.

At least one source says that this picture was filmed while Nagel was still under contract to Universal, and that she was loaned out to PRC for it by her then home studio. In all, Anne Nagel appeared in well over seventy films. While many of her roles were minor, she did achieve some degree of fame for a time. Although it has been over a half-century since the release of her last feature film, to fans of the "B" western, serial and Universal horror films, she will forevermore remain a star. Ann Nagel passed away 6 July 1966. According to Greg Mank's excellent volume, Women in Horror Films, 1940's, there is no marker on Anne Nagel's grave. Sadly, she had no children, and apparently, no surviving relatives.