Nolte was born in Omaha, Nebraska on February 8, 1941. Nolte was educated at the University of Arizona. Nolte was married three times; first to Sheila Page from 1966 until they divorced in 1970. Second he married Sharyn Haddad from 1978 until they divorced in 1983. Lastly he married Rebecca Linger from 1984 until they divorced in 1994.
He was partners with; Karen Louise Ecklund from 1970 until they separated in 1977. Then he was partners with Vicki Lewis from 1994 until they separated in 2003. He is currently partners with Clytie Lane since 2003. With Linger Nolte has a son Brawley Nolte, and with Lane he has a daughter Sophie Lan Nolte.