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RMcoy

I just……….

Ebay is a great thing. And I understand that sometimes people sell things because they need money.

Some of the items don’t bother me at all; things associated with Professional Jeanette especially. There are things I’d like to buy or that I plan on bidding on.

But I have never, ever felt more protective of this person than I do right now.

Seeing her little cookbook, all full of clippings and tape and notes, out for the highest bidder, breaks my heart more than anything I’ve seen so far. The fact that she had nobody to give these things to except fan club presidents breaks my heart. Things like that should be handed down to someone who will treasure them, not sold for profit. The idea that people are swarming like hungry sharks for things like a canceled check that proves that she paid her effing water bill………what IS this??? How messed up is this? Treasuring the PERSON, not the stuff, is what makes this cool. I’m a collector too, guys, and Lord KNOWS if anyone gave me any of this stuff I would treasure it and take care of it, but I just find the auction format so, so, so distasteful for certain of these things. I find the “we don’t care where this goes or who buys it as long as we get paid” mentality cruel. That’s probably my horse background; I’m very anti-auction. In this case, it’s fine for so many things—I love Ebay—but this doesn’t feel right to me.

As a friend just pointed out in a text, it’s like she’s dying for the last time. Seeing a collection of her things like this makes her feel so alive for a moment, and then when you realize that it’s exclusively to make money, it feels like a violation. Speaking of violating her, $250.00 for her Social Security Card is 57 kinds of sick, weird, exploitative and upsetting. How weird and creepy do you feel right now, People of Ebay, that you have Jeanette’s SSN and banking information?

It’s one o’clock in the morning and I am just upset. I need to go to bed.

I knew this was coming, this “living estate” going to auction. I just didn’t expect to have such an emotional reaction to it.

You are loved, Jeanette.

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This Person.

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Nothing to say, just here’s a really effing adorable picture of a 1960s model MacDonald lookin’ fresh and friendly.

Sporting the cutest haircut literally maybe ever.

This is my favorite human.

That’s all.

**Thanks to Tracy for providing this nice clear full length version of a picture I’ve loved forever!

Blossom MacDonald Rock

Like her sister, Edith Marie Blossom MacDonald Rock also passed away on this date, but thirteen years after Jeanette.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Blossom, because she worked through her own difficulties as a stroke victim to communicate the real story of her sister’s life and love to a young Sharon Rich. Blossom made contacts available for Sharon to talk to, answered questions and set the truth in motion all those years ago.

In addition to which, she was Jeanette’s beloved and trusted confidante. The two sisters were always close. She got Jeanette her first real non-kiddie theatre work, and thus is probably the person most responsible for helping her career. She spoke of that happenstance with much pride and affection.

Here is lovely Blossom in her “Marie Blake” days:

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And here she is in the role for which she is best remembered, Grandmama on The Addams Family:

BLOSSOM ROCK

And here she is with her kid sister:

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January 14 – We Will Remember

Fifty years ago today, we lost our dazzling Iron Butterfly.

An excerpt from Nelson’s letter to Jeanette’s fan club — incidentally, the same organization that tried (and old members of that defunct organization are still trying) at every turn to minimize his importance and vehemently deny the role he played in Jeanette’s life:

Your grief is mine, as you must know. And I appreciate the many letters expressing sympathy to me personally in the passing of a great lady, a most beautiful songbird, Miss Jeanette MacDonald. I cannot believe such loveliness is stilled. The world has done me the great honor to associate my name with hers in this sad time. It was indeed a privilege in life to have worked and played with Jeanette. 

Later, he told the Boston Sunday Herald, “I’m asked to reminisce about my life with Jeanette. I am asked to recall funny happenings, so-called interesting incidents of our working life. People just don’t seem to understand that I’m terribly upset. That I am feeling extremely low. Besides which, it seems to me almost sacrilegious to talk of happier days at a time like this. I shall be at the funeral on Monday. It will be the most miserable day of my life.”

It’s bad enough that she died at age 61. The way she died, the way she was allowed to die, is, to me, the most horrifying chapter of this whole saga.

Nelson, who could only be described as in good, robust health before this happened, declined at an alarming rate of speed and joined her in death not quite 26 months later at age 65. A frequent happening among devoted couples of long standing. Don’t tell me that’s a coincidence. (Gene Raymond, a heavy smoker with a long history of drinking too much, made it to a few months shy of 90. Go figure.)

This is the part where I say that I could never have imagined that I would care so much about two people who died twenty years before I was born…but I’ve loved old movie stars my whole life, so that wouldn’t be strictly true. However, other people whom I’ve loved at this “level” — Katharine Hepburn immediately comes to mind — have had their truth universally accepted for a long time. Fifty years after Jeanette’s death, there are STILL people who would deny the truth about her life. There are STILL people who leave deliberately horrendous book reviews and nasty remarks for Sharon Rich, who has done more than anyone (except perhaps Jeanette’s sister Blossom, who made the choice to communicate the truth to Sharon all those years ago, and started this ball rolling) to get the word out about the truth of Jeanette’s story.

But we’re a valiant group. We keep meeting, we keep discussing, we keep adding bits and pieces of information to this story. We keep researching, we keep introducing new people to these movies, we keep Skype-ing and calling and texting and writing and making youtube videos and colorizing pictures and laughing and captioning and theorizing and screen-capturing and wanting to hug them and protect them and ask them questions and crack their heads together.

They deserve our best because they gave us their best.

They deserve our best because fifty years ago they didn’t have the support of a group of people who loved them for themselves, and not as idealized, angelic pedestal-sitters. Fifty years ago it wasn’t possible for them to live openly in a way that is possible today.

I want them to have the recognition that they deserve as artists who gave us a very unique and specific gift, and I want their truth to be understood. I know I’m not alone. I learned from the pioneer of this particular movement.

Basically, what I’m saying here is that I write this blog for Jeanette and Nelson. They are why I’m here and who I’m working for, because they are worth it. Keeping that in mind makes it very easy to elect to keep going.

God KNOWS we love you, Jeanette. We miss you terribly even though we never met you. We won’t stop studying and telling your truth. If this blog is helping do that, well, it’s a privilege.

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Jeanette Anna MacDonald

“Stunning and Startlingly Beautiful”

June 18, 1903 – January 14, 1965

We Will Remember.

Oh, For a [Real] Man!

If there’s one thing you learn QUICKLY when you become a Jeanette MacDonald fan, it’s that you have to pick a “side” regarding what you believe about her marriage to Gene Raymond and her relationship with Nelson Eddy. You can say you’re staying neutral, or that you don’t care, or that it doesn’t matter because you just enjoy her work and think her personal life was nobody’s business. Yeah, that’s great and all, but that’s not really how this works. When you’re a member of the uber-famous, your life, to some extent, becomes everybody’s business. That’s the price of fame, kids. If nobody was interested in the private, personal lives of famous people, the field of biography wouldn’t be a thing. We care. We’re interested. Actually, we’re fricking nosy. And because we care, we form opinions. We study. We dig. We become Cold Case Detectives and Monday Morning Quarterbacks.

I’m a big fan of analyzing pictures. It’s not foolproof, it’s maybe not always 100% accurate, but it’s fascinating. Without going into a lot of the technicalities (which, if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably pretty aware of anyway) of who was where, when and why, what I’d like to do with this post is just offer my thoughts on some pictures. I’ve already made my case about Gene’s unfathomably unforgivable handling of Jeanette at the end of her life, and if I go into all that again, I’ll just get pissed and rant a lot. If you need to review that, find the post about it.

There is no arguing that the two “main” men in Jeanette’s life were Nelson Eddy and Gene Raymond, no matter what stance you decide to take on the workings of her relationships with them. She actually knew Nelson first (late 1933) and dated him first, so their relationship is longer, but in general terms, give or take a couple of years, the length of the two relationships is comparable. Both relationships continued until her death in 1965.

I think Gene is a useless jerk, basically. Sometimes amusing, sometimes affable, sometimes watchable, sometimes harmless, but usually, he’s just kind of a dick. He drinks too much, he has an inferiority complex and he acts like a shitty little bully with his body language. He’s not more famous than Jeanette, he’s not wealthier than Jeanette, and on one hand he had absolutely no problem being kept by a wealthy, older woman (he married again, into a similar situation, after Jeanette died); on the other hand, he seems to be kind of frustrated—and you can hardly blame him, if we’re being honest—but his frustration manifests itself in the way he treats Jeanette. She was “the balls” in the operation, no doubt, (and I’m quoting someone who worked with the two of them on The Guardsman), but at the same time, there were many cases of people witnessing him acting like an ass: browbeating her mercilessly at a dinner party where they were the guests (until someone had to actually tell him to knock it off) while Jeanette just looked at her lap and took it. There is the well known story of him throwing the plate of party snacks at the wall in 1961, Jeanette was helping fix stuff for a party that night and Gene came in, drunk, and flipped his lid. People say that she would have left him in a heartbeat if he actually treated her badly, but that’s WAY over-simplifying the situation. One of her friends, when asked why she stayed with Gene, answered, “Guilt.” I think she did care for him and I think she did feel bad about involving him in some of this mess, to some extent. At the same time, he certainly didn’t starve and as long as he didn’t try to keep her from seeing Nelson, stuff was status quo. Anyway, the moments cited above are just a couple of examples, and certainly every marriage has rough parts, but there is a frequent undercurrent of dischord and tension in their pictures together. Yes, I know there are sweet pictures of them, there’s no denying it. I’ve seen them. However, I also find that Jeanette frequently looks “social” with Gene—politely happy but not lit from within and glowing. She looks like the elevator isn’t going to the top floor—her smile doesn’t reach her eyes. Many times, she does not look happy and comfortable with his hands on her.

I’ll be blunt: the way he touches her a lot of the time skeeves me right the hell out. He grabs her hard, his fingers look like they’re digging, it looks like he’s trying to overpower her. It looks like it’s about control. He looks like he squeezes too hard. His hands are not gentle, loving, sexy or kind. They are awkward and they handle her roughly. It’s frickin’ weird. He has a thing about grabbing her upper arms. If you’ve ever seen Smilin’ Through, you may have noticed it in the way he holds her throughout the movie.

SmilinThroughArm

Or in real life:

CharmingRaymond

(She looks SO sarcastic in that picture.)

And with Ralph Edwards:

thisisyourliferalphgene

I mean, he could just as easily have his hand on her waist in SO MANY pictures, but he prefers the arm hold thing (less intimate and loving; more controlling). And he isn’t grabbing her hard in the last picture, but it’s still very much a “thing” that he does. These examples are just a sample of the plethora of pictures where you can see it, all from different periods in their lives. And he’s the only person I have ever seen consistently hold her arms like this. I have a couple thousand pictures of her lying around on various hard drives and flash drives and have been interested in her for about thirteen years. I don’t pretend to know everything, but I know enough to have an opinion based on available evidence.

Here’s a shot of her and Nelson “backstage” at a radio broadcast in 1945. At first glance, it’s a cute picture of them:

bruisesLowRes

But let’s look more closely at her arm and hand:

bruisesArrows

The bruised vein on the back of her hand looks like she could have just inadvertently hit it on something, right? No big deal.

But the bruises on her arm are clearly fingerprints. Three of them. And who do we know who constantly grabs her by the upper arms?

Ding ding ding, we have a winner.

Makes you a little sick, doesn’t it? I’ve never grabbed someone hard enough to bruise their skin in multiple places, but I imagine you’d have to do it pretty hard. So, was she trying to wrench away when she hit the back of her hand and caused the other bruise? Who knows.

I was fortunate to be able to view/work with an episode of Toast of the Town, August 5, 1951, at the Library of Congress. Gene acted as MC that week and Jeanette was the guest star. Here she is trying to remove his hand from her inner arm:

Genegetoffme

I hope to be able to provide the actual video footage of this happening some day, but he grabs her by her inner arm and her hand immediately flies up to loosen it. You’re hurting her, asshole. Let go.

And speaking of their appearance on that show, WHY does he have to have this weird deathgrip on her arm?

Genegetoff2

Is it not enough that he’s already holding her hand? I’m telling you, this two-handed control thing that he does with her is really effing strange.

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She’s fully enchanted with his clutching and slobbering, as you can see. 1948-1952 was a stinking rough time by all accounts anyway, but gee.

And then there’s this charming moment:

strangle

Was he drunk, here? Was he goofing off? I don’t know, but this picture does not make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Fred MacMurray is just trying to not get involved. Jeanette looks like she would appreciate it if he DID get involved. I’m not sure exactly what her expression is conveying, but it isn’t delight. Maybe quit strangling her, Gene.

And, at first glance, when I saw this next picture, I thought it was adorable. No lie. And I even said so on facebook. Which launched some conversation, including Angela’s very well-made points that made me reconsider that first opinion. Upon actual study of it, here we go again. Can’t you let her just……put her arm around you if she wants to? Why ya gotta hold her hostage all the time?

behindGeneJ

She does not seem to be participating in this picture as much as he wants her to. You’re trying too hard, sir.

I can’t find the picture that made this super clear (if I do, I’ll edit the post to include it), but another thing Angela and I were talking about with regard to Gene’s treatment of her is that Gene seems to have no problem blowing his cigarette smoke in her face. We’ve seen it in a number of pictures where he’s doing this, but I don’t have any of them saved as “smokeblowing.jpg” so it would take forever to find them. When I do, I’ll stick them in. But……she’s not a smoker. So, again, don’t be a dick, Gene.

I just get a snarky, sarcastic vibe from them 60% of the time. And I get a “he looks abusive” vibe 25% of the time. And 15% of the time they look cute.

And then there’s Nelson.

Nelson, who was photographed with her hundreds and hundreds of times, both posed promotional photo shoots for their films and candid shots, over their 32 year relationship.

Nelson, who has a really hard time keeping his hands off of her, but whom I have never, EVER seen with his hands on her in anything other than a loving, gentle, supportive, interested and often sexy way.

We’ve seen them look unmistakably pissed at each other:

firstmaytimeglares

But notice how their clear displeasure is manifested through looks, not potentially harmful touching. This is how grown-ups argue, Mr. Raymond.

These two people stare at each other a lot, often when the other is not looking back at them. I have never seen her look at Gene, or anyone else, for that matter, with the same expression with which she is staring at Nelson in that second picture. My God.

Staringwoodyandthekids

Study Nelson here (click on the photo to enlarge it), between shots of I Married an Angel. We know Jeanette had a lifelong phobia of stairs, which may have something to do with why she’s being secured in place here. Nelson has one arm around her back and his other hand is on her stomach, keeping her steady and balanced. Notice that he is watching her body and that his face is pretty serious—the boy is singularly devoted to keeping her safe. He’s probably not thinking that in so many words, but his face and stance indicate that he’s not about to let anything happen to her. And the thing I love about this, too, is how relaxed her arm is, on his shoulder. She’s not gripping on for dear life because she KNOWS he’s got her. She’s comfortable enough to be arranging her dress and not look like she cares at all about being up there. She trusts him.

TyingJonthestairs

On the subject of stairs, look at this darling gentleman, giving a tutorial on how to hold a lady’s arm in a supportive and sweet way. There’s a perfectly good railing behind him, but who wants that when he’s right there to offer his gallant assistance?

NMset

He brings her flowers on the set.

candidfirstmaytimeflowersRMcandidflowers

He cuddles her on the set and manages to not look like a creeptastic control freak bully. His hands and arms are gentle and cozy.

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He holds her hand without cutting off her circulation.

SWsethands

holdinghands

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He finds ways to clue people in to how he feels, even during staged publicity shoots. I’m sure he was ORDERED to hold her finger like this. Don’t you think?

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He sits with his arm draped around her. Not all clutchy and grippy and weird, but relaxed and easy because it belongs there and this feels natural to these people.

Radiolookingatmusic maytimecandidAngela

When given the choice between the arm grip and the waist, Nelson picks the waist just about every time.*

*(and he doesn’t give two shits that Gene is standing right there, either.)

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But they don’t even have to be touching to completely slay you with the way that they look at each other. Adrian might as well not even be there.

Adrian

And that never changed. Ever.

favoritesinhifirec sweet

Nelson treats her like he loves her. He touches her like he loves her. He looks at her like he loves her. He talks about her like he loves her.

Nelson is, for the most part, secure in himself—certainly as compared to Gene. He doesn’t need to overpower her, control her or put her down to get the limelight. He doesn’t bully her or yank her around. He adores showing her off. He leads the applause and acts like her biggest fan. He embarrasses her with the laser-like focus of his adoring attention. One of my favorite tiny moments is during a recorded rehearsal for one of their radio shows—she finishes her solo and there’s no real applause because there’s no audience, but you hear Nelson in the background saying, “Pure talent!”

That’s a real man, guys.

Of course they fought, and they had break-ups, and there are many things we wish we could go back and tell them to do differently, but that’s not the point of this post.

Why is this hard to comprehend? I mean, it’s one thing to maybe misinterpret one picture or a few pictures, but there are hundreds of these and they all tell the same story.

PS: A couple of these good scans came from the collection of Maria Escano, and I so appreciate being able to use them to help illustrate the (rather obvious) points of this blog! Thank you, Maria! 🙂

The Book You Need to Study

Check this out, two posts in one day!

(Trying to get this stuff done while it’s still fresh in my mind from the trip.)

I cannot stress enough how important I think Jeanette’s autobiography manuscript is. Obviously, Sweethearts is the sort of “mother ship” book, but if you are seriously interested in MacDonald reading beyond that, her autobiography manuscript should absolutely, 100% be your next stop.

Get it here. After that, your next move should be to devour The Irving Stone Letters, but that’s a subject for another post.

Jeanette talked on and off, many times, about working on/finishing her autobiography. It never did get published. One of the most basic problems was that it was not “juicy” enough to be considered an exciting read—well, that falls in line perfectly with the MacDonald publicity machine, public image and fan club offerings, right? Square, square, square. Boring, fuddy-duddy, churchy, Republican, suburban-type has-been movie star.

(…who liked to do the wild thing with Nelson Eddy in the sweet, sweet night.)

(…and said bad words.)

(…and actually consumed alcohol.)

She worked on her book a lot, and revised it a lot, and submitted it and was told to cut some of the early childhood, that people were more interested in after she got on the stage, so she did that. She hired people to help her and ultimately, it didn’t matter. She was not in good health and browbeating herself over what to include or not include in her book was too taxing. Fredda Dudley Balling, a well-known magazine writer, worked extensively on this project with Jeanette and noted that Jeanette could really only work a few hours a day, but the two of them soldiered on until they had this 350 page manuscript. When they submitted it, it came back all cut up with 50 pages of material deleted and that was the last straw. According to a letter from Fredda Balling dated March 6, 1965, Jeanette (in 1960, when this was happening) called her in frustrated tears and explained what had happened with the publishers basically pulverizing her manuscript. That was it. At great expense, Jeanette sold bonds, returned the sizable advance against presumed royalties and abrogated her contract.

The autobiography was done for.

That is, until it was discovered and put into the hands of Sharon Rich, who annotated it and got it out there for us to enjoy and study.

Study being the right word. Some of the things Jeanette has to tell us in this book are charming and amusing and wonderful. But the very BEST part is the handwritten notes literally all over the manuscript. She adds stuff, changes stuff, crosses things out, makes notes in margins, does [incorrect] math in margins…..it is a total field day for the person interested in studying this fascinating human being.

Here’s a sample page.

sampleautobiopage

I mean, the whole book is like that. There are VERY few pages that she hasn’t marked up in some way. Fascinating stuff.

In and of itself, that’s plenty of reason to own this book.

While we were in Washington, I was thumbing through this thing for the 923842738429384236275347534953th time (why do I have to always lug such huge books with me everywhere I go?), and Angela and I got to talking about it. I did something with the pages of this book, the visual of which absolutely struck her and she insisted that I demonstrate the same thing on the blog. I agree, it’s pretty damn compelling.

Okay, so we’ve already said that this manuscript is 350 pages long, right? And that it was summer of 1960 that she was busy trying to get it finished.

So, as an experiment, let us open the book to its exact middle.

Oh. It’s 1930-31, she’s in Europe proving that her eye didn’t get shot out by an outraged royal. (True story. Buy the book.)

Well, okay, so she’s covered her childhood, her Broadway days and the very, very earliest part of her film career (up through 1930’s Oh, For a Man!). You get the sense that she’s a little behind schedule. You’re halfway through the book and she hasn’t even sung the Indian Love Call one freakin’ time! She hasn’t even met either of the two most significant men in her life, Nelson Eddy and Gene Raymond. She hasn’t discussed her marriage, she hasn’t confessed to a red hot love affair, she hasn’t talked about grand opera or WWII or MGM or ANY of that! Kinda funny.

Now, she discusses meeting Nelson, dating Nelson, the “attraction” they “might” have had for each other, meeting Gene and dating Gene. And this, dear readers, is the time in Jeanette’s life when the shit started really really hitting the fan and it never actually stopped. Here’s a crazy visual:

autobiovisual

The gap where my fingers are? Yeah, on that page she has just gotten engaged to Gene. She has recently finished making Rose Marie. So we’re in, like, 1936. And look how LITTLE of her book is remaining. (Please note that I’ve pulled up only her manuscript pages. Sharon’s writings before and after have been left down with the covers on either side to get an accurate “measurement” of the manuscript.)

Why is it that she is so verbose about her early life, first boyfriend, stage work, traveling, European tour, Paramount movies………and then she gets to the mid-1930s—-the biggest, brightest, most meteoric time in her WHOLE LIFE—-and she can suddenly get from there to 1960 in NINETY-TWO PAGES???????? In a 350 page book, the last 92 pages take us from 1936 to 1960. That seems seriously, seriously off. (PS, I’m using the page numbers on the typewritten manuscript, not the page numbers that include all the annotations, etc. So yes, this number is real Jeanette pages.)

Why, then, is it like that? Why is she so tight-lipped (fingered?) about 1936-1960?

Here’s a list of what she was up to in that time period:

Films:

San Francisco

Maytime

The Firefly

Girl of the Golden West

Sweethearts

Broadway Serenade

New Moon

Bitter Sweet

Smilin’ Through

I Married an Angel

Cairo

Follow the Boys

Three Daring Daughters

The Sun Comes Up

Television Work: Numerous guest spots, two with Nelson, game shows, plus Prima Donna and Charley’s Aunt

Scores and scores of radio performances (many with Nelson) and recordings. National concert tours nearly too numerous to mention, beginning in 1939. One tour entirely for the War effort. TONS of war work, volunteer work, boards and causes and political involvements by the dozen. Two grand operas. A skirmish with the Met. An album of “Favorites” with Nelson that went gold almost immediately. Summer stock runs in The King and I  and Bitter Sweet.

That darling “marriage” to Gene Raymond, Grandest Useless Rat Fink of All Time. That happened, too.

……………….Ninety-two pages, Jeanette? Really? Of course, she does cover many of those things I mentioned, but she does so in a cursory sort of way, for the most part. If you’re looking for fantastic anecdotes about the Nelson movies or Nelson in general or, really, any other fun stories about most of her professional life, look elsewhere. She doesn’t have a lot to say.

Really, really weird. Until you stop and think that maybe she’s so cursory and tight-lipped about her life, starting in 1936, because she can’t talk about a solid 70% of it. Why?

Because it’s wrapped up around Nelson Eddy, that’s why. Because she was in love and she chose a hellishly complicated, stressful existence because she couldn’t kill that love. She doesn’t trust herself to talk in depth about working with Nelson, that much is obvious. And Nelson is so involved in nearly every other part of her life and his influence colored many of her decisions. So she just can’t talk about it. The readers would have loved to hear her thoughts about getting together with him in 1957 for TV and to record an album! But she doesn’t even mention it! Odd. I don’t care if you like Nelson or not. I don’t care if you like him better than Jeanette. The simple fact is that these two people, both incredible on their own, were BEST KNOWN, BEST LOVED and BEST REMEMBERED TOGETHER. It is with EACH OTHER that they were their best. It is because of their involvement with EACH OTHER that we are still talking about them at all. So a book about either one of them, written by them or not, must, by definition, include a lot of data about the other one. Except this one really doesn’t. And that’s just fricking strange. That should be an immediate red flag.

Because this woman, in 1960, was afraid to come clean about her life to the VERY PEOPLE who, in 1937, flooded MGM with heartbroken letters when she DIDN’T marry Nelson. Her frickin’ fan club had spewed so much Perfect Marriage bullshit for so long that these people have been totally convinced that her life was actually like that. She had a club President STEP DOWN (Marie Waddy Gerdes) from being President because she got to know and love Jeanette (named her kid Jeanette, too), and knew the real story, and chose Jeanette’s confidence and friendship over continuing to row the Golden Comet boat. If you really want to make yourself hurl, read the way these people wrote about her. I mean, yeah, it’s nice and all, but it is so totally saccharine that nobody could POSSIBLY, EVER live up to the ridiculous standard to which Jeanette was held. The hypocrisy is really stunning, when you consider the behavior of these people at club meetings and online since her death. They worship at the shrine of her imagined angelic, pure perfection, and act like total asses to anyone who might suggest that she was —-WHOA—- a real and fallible human being.

We are our own brand of batshit crazy, no doubt, but at least we know she puts on her pants one leg at a time like everyone else. At least we don’t freak the eff out when someone mentions that she enjoyed a Tom Collins or liked sex. I mean, good grief, those things are part of the person, just as much as her strong faith and red hair.

And yet, in 1960, her career had left her, her health was quickly leaving her, and the people who wrote her letters and sent her cards and paid attention to her and made her feel like a Big Fat Movie Star were those fans. Those fans with their totally outrageous pedestal. Imperfect and horribly flawed though they and their viewpoint were/are, they showered her with love and affection and in the final analysis, she couldn’t bear to disillusion them. She chose to put them first, to repay their love in kind, to let them keep their illusions. Jeanette put herself last many times in life. Too many. If she had delivered the shattering truth that they had been misled all these years, they would have crucified her and she couldn’t possibly have withstood their desertion. Not at that stage of the game. Those fans kept her going when little else was around to distract her from a rapidly declining existence.

She had toyed with telling the truth, but in the end, she didn’t. She didn’t outright lie (much)….she just avoided telling the whole story. And thus, the biggest and most important part of her prolific life can be treated in 92 pages.

And what about that marriage? Wasn’t that supposed to be the most glorious thing that ever happened? Why aren’t there endless tales of happiness and wonder and romance? That’s what the fan club printed ad nauseum all those years.

In actual fact, of the personal things she does talk about in those 92 pages, quite a bit of it at the end is devoted to how unhappy she was, many times. Gene was cold. Gene accused her of using her tears as a weapon, so she never felt like she could cry around him. That’s ridiculous. Gene’s mother was an unholy bitch. Gene came home from the war a changed man, and not for the better. Gene won’t answer her when she asks if he loves her. Gene doesn’t tour with her because he just ends up being Mr. MacDonald and she can’t handle the whining, so it’s better for everyone that he doesn’t go. You wonder how on earth he’s compatible with this sweet, warm, funny, sensitive woman. Gene didn’t want children. She did, badly. Desperately. But upon returning from her honeymoon, she notes that, “There was one subject I didn’t allow myself to pursue, except in my private daydreaming. The MacRaymonds had no children.” She never says anything about infertility. She just says the subject is off the table. Several other times, she writes of her longing to be a mother. Every single time, without fail, those passages are crossed out. Too painful. And she did have multiple failed pregnancies, just not with Gene. So it’s painful and it touches on the part of her life she’s not discussing, so it has to go. She also hides the truth about her health and her heart. She glosses over things that were tough.

In conclusion, I really would urge you all to buy the autobiography. Study it. Listen to the things she says, but maybe listen even harder to everything that she doesn’t say. It will astound you.