An immensely popular adult film actress who became one of the industry's most respected spokeswomen, Nina Hartley dedicated her career to the pursuit of sex-positive, feminist pornography. Born March 11, 1959 in Berkeley, CA, Marie Louise Hartman put herself through nursing school as a stripper but found adult films more rewarding. Adopting the stage name "Nina Hartley," she became one of the industry's most successful actresses, winning countless awards and appearing in literally hundreds of popular films. Although she remained an active performer, Hartley achieved mainstream fame for her work as one of the most visible advocates for the adult film industry, appearing as a guest on talk shows such as "The Phil Donahue Show" (WLWD, 1967-1970; syndicated, 1970-1996) and "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (syndicated, 1986-2011). Articulate, intelligent and warm in interviews, Hartley's qualification as a registered nurse lent her additional credibility, and she played a crucial role in changing mainstream attitudes towards the adult film industry as well as to helping the industry enact safer practices and standards. Achieving status as an enormously respected elder stateswoman of her field, Hartley started her own multimedia empire, rooted in her values of sex-positive feminism and no-nonsense sexual advice. Her legacy helped earn her the role of William H. Macy's cheating wife in the hit drama "Boogie Nights" (1997) and the role of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Sarah Palin-themed adult parody "Who's Nailin' Paylin?" (2008), which attracted considerable mainstream media attention.
By Jonathan Riggs