(November 13, 1894 – February 17, 1961) was an American silent film
actress. She was usually cast in the role of the "femme fatale
", a persona
first popularized by actress Theda Bara
Born Mary Dooley
in New York City
into a working class Irish
family in 1894. She was named for her great aunt, Mary Nonna Dunphy, who founded Academy of the Holy Angels
in Ft. Lee, New Jersey
, which young Mary Dooley attended in 1910. Her father left the family in 1910, and her mother died in 1915. Left with the care of two teenage siblings Naldi began to seek work. She took odd jobs including artist modeling and cloak model. Eventually she entered vaudeville with her brother Frank. By 1918 she debuted on Broadway as a chorus girl at the Winter Garden in "The Passing Show of 1918".
This led to more stage jobs and soon Naldi found herself in the Ziegfeld Follies
of 1919. At this time she changed her name to Nita Naldi
. Naldi was a homage to a childhood friend Florence Rinaldi. She continued working on Broadway and after a well received performance in "The Bonehead" was offered a stint with well known producer William A. Brady
. Brady cast her in his play "Opportunity" in 1920.
Naldi was asked to perform in a short film with Scottish comedian Johnny Dooley (no relation). Naldi quit after realizing he had romantic intentions with another woman. She was then offered a role in "A Divorce... Read More