Mary Dooly (aka Nita Naldi) was born in New York City into a working class Irish-Italian family. The silent screen star, who began her career as a showgirl in a Shubert revue in the Winter Garden, later went on to the famed Ziegfeld Follies.
After a successful career on the stage with the Follies, Nita decided to try her hand with films in Hollywood. Her rise to fame was very quick.
In 1920, at the age of 23, she starred with the legendary John Barrymore in Dr, Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This first role seemed to solidify her film career right from the beginning. It was said she was outstanding and beautiful. Her vamp roles were grand.
In 1921, she starred in three fine productions: The Last Door, A Divorce of Convenience, and Experience. She was fast becoming filmdom's leading, sexy lady.
However, it was 1922's Blood & Sand that was to set apart from others. Nita starred opposite Rudolph Valentino in one of the silent era's epic last truly great productions. And it was also the last of the vamp roles filmed since Clara Bow had shown that good girls knew about sex too instead of just her more worldly counterparts.
Nita played Doña Sol who leads the Valentino character into dissipation and disgrace. Nita was an absolute hit as the film was at the box-office. Blood & Sand was a smash hit! She made two more hits in 1922, Blood & Sand and Anna Ascends, but neither measured up to her role as Doña Sol.
Nita made several good films in 1923, but the pinnacle that year was Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments. Not the powerful epic as was the 1956 version, Nita played an adventurous woman, Sally Lung. It was a saga of wages-of-sin drama with flashbacks to Moses time. The film was well-received. Nita continued to star in good movies, most of which were from Paramount.
In 1928, she made her last two films, What Price Beauty and The Model From Montmartre. With the arrival of sound, her New York accent did not lend itself well to the "talkies", whereupon she retired from the silver screen. She did continue to be active on the stage and later on in the infant medium of television.
Nita died of a heart attack in her room at the Wentworth Hotel and was interred in Calvary Cemetery on Long Island. She was 63.