It was Bound to Happen…

I finally bit the bullet and did it. A MacEddy blog. Lord knows that these two fruitbats (gentle teasing of our two subjects is A-OK, kids, relax) take up a truly ridiculous amount of my time and space in my head. No day is complete without some sort of MacEddy discussion with someone on some level. So, really, it’s not all that surprising that I’d be here, doing this. The thing is, if you’re an old movie person like I have been since before I can remember, sooner or later you’re doing to discover MacDonald and Eddy, MGM’s Singing Sweethearts of the 1930s and early 40s. Eight glorious, romantic musicals (lots of operettas), lots of frilly costumes with huge skirts for Jeanette and uniforms and marching songs for Nelson. Something or someone always tries to keep them apart but you know before you even begin that they belong together and will end up thus, on some level (shut up, Maytime. Nobody asked you, Bitter Sweet.). Now, either that’s your thing or it isn’t. It’s totally my thing. I have a penchant for the “teams” — Astaire and Rogers, Tracy and Hepburn, Powell and Loy, Bogart and Bacall, Mickey (but my God he’s annoying, RIP) and Judy….you get it. Bonus points if said team happens to be, erm, a team in real life. That is the stuff that makes my little heart go pitter-pat.

Nelson and Jeanette were very much a team, for eight movies, and very much a “team” for over thirty years (there were a few bad years in the mix here and there, but overall, they sort of never got out of each other’s heads once they met) behind the scenes. True Life: They also each were married to other people: Jeanette to second-stringer Gene Raymond who was never quite as cool anywhere as he was when wearing Jeanette on his arm, and Nelson to silent film director Sidney Franklin’s ex, Ann, about whom nobody seems to have anything nice to say, including people who knew her.

The thing is, there are these “official” fan clubs for each star; the Jeanette MacDonald International Fan Club (JMIFC) and the Nelson Eddy Appreciation Society (NEAS), who are both very much by the book about the marriages of their subjects. Everything was hunky dunky (does anyone else love Christmas in Connecticut?) and here are some pictures just so everyone sees that everything is awesome. Jeanette and Nelson made movies together AND THAT’S IT. Crazy how both of these people had these long perfect marriages in such a scandal-ridden town, eh? I mean, it’s not impossible, but the odds are not in their favor. But I digress.  These groups have really not let up, even though these two people have been dead for half a century, and so there’s still a raging war going on between the people who insist that they had these perfect marriages and nothing between them (those are called “Saints” in MacEddy language)….and the rest of us (“Sinners”) who are totally on board with the fact that they dug each other, even though their lives were a couple of hot, complicated messes.

I guess I just want to say that while I make no secret and never have of which side of the fence I’m on here, I’m not going to try to force anyone to believe anything. I am hoping to write a collection of essay-style posts (supplemented with photographs and audio files) that just ask questions. I want to point out the curious, the interesting, the noteworthy. I’m not trying to play like I was right there in the dressing room with them, but there is certainly a mountain of evidence that would point in the direction that they did, in fact, love each other. I’m not naive enough to think I’ll get the multi-decade crusty old Saints to jump on the MacEddyinLove bandwagon (even though I would lay money that at least two of them are reading this! Hey, guys!)—and I fully acknowledge that we have our fair share of crazy over here in Sinner Land, too. I live it, kids. And there are days when I just am like, “Please stop talking.” But ultimately, you can’t control anything but you. What pisses me off beyond all recognition, though, is when I ask some of the aforementioned Saints LEGIT QUESTIONS (“Why did it take a court summons for perfect husband Gene Raymond to pay for Jeanette’s funeral?” “Why did Nelson Eddy move into the same (Comstock) apartment complex as Jeanette RIGHT AFTER SHE MOVED THERE?” Etc, etc) and I have yet to get a straight answer or even an “I don’t know” from any of them! The replies go from being horribly offended that I would even dare to make such vile insinuations with my questions to “I can’t bear to think about her/him being unhappy.” (So….are you saying you acknowledge that this is possible and it hurts your head to think about it? Or…? I mean, people are unhappy all the time. I’m unhappy that my DVD of The Cat and the Fiddle didn’t come in the mail today. Welcome to the real world, sweet cheeks. Sometimes we are unhappy. Buck up.) and finally, the ultimate cop-out of, “Their personal lives are none of our business.” AKA “I don’t have a good answer so I’m saying this.” I mean, okay, maybe it’s not our business but biography of historical figures happens when people know stuff that isn’t their business, because it’s intriguing and interesting.

So I imagine I’ll be posing a lot of “riddle me this” type questions. Hell, at least I’m getting them off my chest. And maybe somebody in the privacy of their home will read some of this sometime and think that maybe they haven’t got this 100% right. Or maybe people will find this blog who have not previously cared about this story and hop on board. It’s really a fascinating tangle. It really is. You find yourself loving these two people so fiercely that you’d sell organs to go back in time and crack their heads together and be like, “NO, THIS IS BAD. DON’T DO IT.” You find yourself perplexed and alternately elated when little pieces fall into place at unexpected times (say, after your biographer friend has already sent off the revised book to the publisher and then has to GET IT BACK to put the new info in. This has been a fun afternoon.) and sometimes you sit and feel like you’re right back where you started.

I dunno. Look at Jeanette’s face in this picture. She doesn’t look like she’s hearing a word of Woody (that’s W.S. Van Dyke, their favorite director and beloved pal) and Nelson’s conversation, but she sure is looking all piney at Nelson. Sigh. They are cute.


7 thoughts on “It was Bound to Happen…

  1. Oh snibbity snap! We can fight on wordpress, too! lol
    TBH, I don’t know the answers to your questions. I don’t have all of the answers. Maybe I would, if I hadn’t given up ten years ago because of the terrible Sinners, the ones I call MacEdiots, that OPENLY ADMIT to sleeping with Sweethearts under their pillows to “get closer to Nelson,” that make spectacles of themselves at formal events by running Ann Eddy’s grave over repeatedly in their motor scooters while yelling obscenities (…why did that actually happen…), and even, yes, those of my own “kind” who are just morons who refuse to share Jeanette with anyone who thinks she ever farted, (this is a really long run on sentence that will continue for a few more years) right on down the line to Clara, Tessa, and Gene, who just fucking gave up on Jeanette’s legacy. I don’t care who Jeanette loved, really. I believe in the Jeanette who loved Gene because, to me, that is Jeanette at her strongest. It’s Jeanette refusing to let others live her life. In “my version,” she was in control, and honestly, I think *I* need that, most of all. It’s my insane need to rationalize. It’s me looking at the Mr. Mayer that bowed to Ann Miller, when she flat out refused to marry him, the Mr. Mayer who told June Allyson he’d ruin her, if she married Dick Powell, then walked her down the aisle…. on and on and on. I can’t, logically, accept the villainous, vengeful psychopath, in Sweethearts. I’m not saying he was a God among men, but he wasn’t and altogether evil person. More… hot air, than anything, and everyone knew that. If he would have told the Jeanette that I believe existed that she couldn’t marry someone, she would have happily given him the finger and gone back to the set. (Oh my God, am I ever going to shut up.)
    For what its worth, I think any intelligent person should have questions about anything they’re passionate about. I just like to encourage people to read everything, evaluate the facts provided, and go from there. Your side of the table has the emotional effect. Mine… well, I’m funny, anyway. I can’t say much for our over abundance of people with their ears full of plaster.
    Am I done, now? I think I am. I might be back.
    KG GIRL OUT *drops mic*

  2. Ohhh heyyyy!!! Haha, I had a feeling you might show up. And here we are. 😀

    As far as the Ann Eddy grave defiling and whatever, that shit is cray and like………no. I have absolutely zero use for that woman, but even so….no. As I say, there has been plenty of crazy on this side of the fence, too, although I’ve only ever heard about the grave incident in passing.

    And see, I love Sharon. I really do. I talked to her on the phone this afternoon about an INFINITESIMAL thing I’d been working on and she was so enthusiastic and so happy about it, it made me a ton more excited than I already was. She’s been a guest in my home. I’ve spent a week with her on a ship where she gamely stayed up until 2 or 3am EVERY NIGHT just talking shop and trying to answer questions that I fired at her a mile a minute. I text her all the time. She has been a friend for several years and I’ve seen with my own eyes a lot of the interviews and testimony she has spent a lifetime gathering (and the project has not made her wealthy, contrary to common belief—she’s not doing it for the money. Anyone who thinks those two are going to make them rich in this day and age is silly.). I’ve seen her enthusiasm and love of these guys, I’ve seen her choke up when someone had a moving tidbit to share and it makes me so sad when people assume they know her when they don’t. I don’t know how else to put it—she passes the sniff test for me.

    THAT BEING SAID—-I don’t champion this cause because Sharon Rich says so. She actually doesn’t try to have anyone do that. I have read every word I can get my hands on about Jeanette and Nelson. Hollywood Diva is on my shelf right next to Sweethearts. I have combed through HOURS of newspaper articles on google books. I have read every Golden Comet I’ve been able to find (a fair few!), I own every issue of Mac/Eddy Today, which are excellent resources for full interviews that there simply isn’t room for in the space of one book. My point is that I have done my own research, every possible way I can. I’ve had some pretty cool little findings, and a whole lot of dead ends. I encourage everyone to do the same thing–just like you. What I DON’T like is someone being like “NO WAY ABSOLUTELY NOT” when they haven’t even carefully considered what is presented to them.

    As far as Mayer is concerned….I really think it all boils down to the individual relationship with him. There have been many accounts of him being a lecherous disgusting manipulative douchenozzle, and then Katharine Hepburn got along with him great and called him a “romantic.” The June Allyson thing is compelling all by itself because he threatened to ruin her. He could have easily done it. He had the power and he knew it. The fact that he didn’t, in her case, is great. Have you seen Girl 27?

    Aaaaaaaand oh nuts, I’ve written a whole other post in the form of a comment. Awesome.

  3. Well, you did it…good for you. I have been wading through this crazy MacEddy world since the summer of 2011 when a chance encounter with an unfamiliar film “Sweethearts” lead me to Google them and I was toast. I went right down the rabbit hole never to see the light of day again. I’ve met some wonderful people, seen some strange things, shed more than a few tears and have had lots of laughs. I ponder, ask questions, write bad poetry, it’s what I do. I can only guess at what motivates people, and you and I have spend endless hours doing just that. I know what I believe happened and I’m good with it but am always interested in hearing more, especially from you my dear. Make your case counselor, Jeanette and Nelson are well represented and I look forward to the ride.

  4. Pingback: It was Bound to Happen... | Tinseltown Times

  5. Katie: you and I see eye to eye on a lot of things about Jeanette and Nelson. I am so happy that you have started this blog because if there is anybody who can lay all the cards on the table (other than Sharon) and objectively analyze them, it’s you! I have been an adoring fan of these 2 magnificent artists who after almost half of a century since their passing still have legions of fans all over the world. I stumbled upon Naughty Marietta on a late, late show many, many years ago and instantly fell in love with them as a team, was super elated when I discovered they made 8 films together and with the advent of the Internet, was pleasantly surprised to have discovered Sharon’s book which confirmed what I had suspected all along.The evidence is overwhelming that they did have an off screen romance which lasted their lifetime. I have been madly collecting memorabilia ever since as I just wanted to get a hold of anything and everything about them. They have taken over my life and I am richer for the experience of such GREAT LOVE! No one outside of my family has affected me as much as these two. How I wish many, many times to be able to turn back the clock and make everything right for them. Their love story rivals any of Shakespeare’s plays, truly a love story for the ages. Frank Sinatra described them in his introduction to their signature duet, “Indian Love Call” in That’s Entertainment Part I, as: “The most successful singing team in the history of motion pictures”. Indeed they are! We may never see the likes of them ever again! Congratulations Katie. Loads of luck in your new venture. I have no doubt that you are most capable in carrying the MacEddy torch into the future and continue to preserve the incredible legacy of Jeanette and Nelson in films, music and most importantly their unforgettable romance.

  6. Movies were escapism. There was sometimes no rhyme or reason. Male & female stars were cast opposite each other in hopes that opposites do attract. Sometimes they did, sometimes they did not. But during that era, in a time of War and fer worldwide (there was no internet) — people needed and wanted to escape. They had sons, unexpectedly jump into the fray to join the War. They had daughters who put marriage aside to work in factories. The glamour of the dream factories was their solace and joy. The colorful people they saw on screen were their escapes. Since the beginning of Hollywood – movies stars were and somewhat still are- the Royalty of the great USA. Dreams did come true in movies. Everyone sounded just a great as Jeanette & Eddy when they showered. Were the people really that naive? No. They just chose a moment in time when they could join a full house at the movie theatre – and they could escape … It worked. We shall never see that era of great film-making again. (google the year 1939 for movies … and therein, lies the proof).

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