Mrs. Gene Raymond — Some Interesting Insight

Well, a group of photocopies of Jeanette and Gene Raymond’s letters have surfaced. My feeling about this is that I think they are the copies of letters and telegrams that Edward Baron Turk was given for his book, Hollywood Diva. Several of these are referenced in his book—so it would make sense that that’s what this is, especially since they are photocopies, since this collection at large also included letters from Turk and promotional materials concerning the book. Going along with that theory, my partner in crime Angela just made the astute observation that if these were indeed the copies of letters that Turk had to work from——a) they’ve picked the best of the bunch to show him—no matter who ‘they’ is, and b) if there was anything in this bunch that concretely disproved her relationship with Nelson, he would surely have played those cards in his book. But—-nope, nothing. And actually, from what we see here (which I acknowledge is a limited amount of what is in the collection) and what we see quoted in Turk’s book, well………Jeanette’s letters to Irving Stone and Bob Ritchie were much sexier, flirtier and more fun that this business. With that in mind, check this out.

Included with the auction listing are select pages of letters, including this one:


For anyone who may have trouble deciphering homegirl’s handwriting, a translation:

(This is the second/middle page of a longer letter)

(2) it meant something to you as a man to serve your country – But you are doing that and well, as your promotion must indicate, and now your decision to change your job for one of more danger and daring has me confused. — I feel that in your man world over there, the excitement, call to arms!, pressure, honor even—has given you a purely one sided viewpoint — and you’ve forgotten that you have a responsibility to me as well as your country — you are fighting for me and home, et al, you know, and yet, honey, without you — the me and home doesn’t count much — we both need you to be complete and while you think I’ve been very swell and brave and understanding, don’t overestimate me as a woman. I’m just as hysterical as little Mary Jones at certain prospects and when those prospects are magnified by the job you seem to find necessary, I keep asking myself (and you) Why, Why – Why? Why the field? — What’s wrong with intelligence? — It’s just as important a branch of the service as any other — I’m certain of that — and it would seem to me more important to a fellow like you because you can and must have an important place in the reconstruction to follow this war — and you can only do it on a politically equal basis. Perhaps I don’t make myself clear (the other letter was so much better) but things are heading towards a very rosey !!! future (Rose is one shade of red
Well, she sure is giving him an earful!
Yes, she does sound concerned and yes, she does call him honey, and yes, she did care about him–that much is obvious. But she is clearly not happy with his decision making skills.
LOL re: his “man world over there”
And that last bit about a “very rosey!!! future” — Angela has just offered this, which I think is brilliant and absolutely correct:
Also about the rosy future, i.e. rosy being a shade of red, that is a blatant political statement regarding communism. She is telling him he has an important role to fight commies at home after the war, NOT an important role in HER life. That’s putting their relationship in a very unromantic light. Her romantic feelings were reserved for only one man, Nelson Eddy.
Angela’s freakin’ brilliant, people.
In this post, originally, I had made some commentary on one of the letters in this bunch (which, yes, the ebay listing DID SAY these were letters from Jeanette TO GENE, so that is the information I was going on) and as it turns out, a copy of the letter in question was provided to me and it was, in fact, not addressed to Gene. It would have been utterly hilarious if it had been, but it wasn’t, so I stand corrected on that. I have no problem at all admitting that I was wrong, but that will not happen until I see satisfactory documentation. In this case of this one letter, I was wrong, and as you can see, have edited this post accordingly. Carry on.
Here are the telegrams:
The top one is from 1935, the bottom from 1936, a month after their engagement was announced. She and Nelson were very much on the outs at this moment and she was trying like hell to be an excited bride to be. Gene was no threat to her, no challenge to her, not like Nelson was. The relationship with Nelson was constantly challenging. Gene was the safe option. And anyone who has ever been in love before knows there is a distinct difference between the “safe” choice, of whom you might be quite fond — and someone who is irrevocably entrenched in your heart, right or wrong, forever.
Side note: I purchased Jeanette’s green gloves that were recently on ebay. They are tiny and perfect and I’m just beyond words.
Gloves3 Gloves2

14 thoughts on “Mrs. Gene Raymond — Some Interesting Insight

  1. Katie: Very astute perspective indeed. Her signing that letter “Fondly” is really very telling!!! Like she’s addressing a friend. “Fondly” is even several notches from “Love, your brother or your sister” Absolutely, categorically, not a spousal sounding closing remark!!!!

    • And not only does she sign it “Fondly” — it is positively hilarious that that closing comes at the end of such a bossy, kind of bitchy (sorry, Jeanette, love you!!) letter! I mean, she sounds like she’s still Queen Bee on tour, gettin’ stuff done by ordering people around.

      Thanks for the comment, Maria, and your constant support of this blog. I appreciate it!

      • Anytime, Katie. BTW, congrats on those beautiful gloves! They must have looked stunning on her. She always dressed elegantly! Glad they have come to a loving home where they will be treasured.

  2. All I can say Katie is I’ve never in my entire nearly 40 year marriage signed a letter or a note to my husband “Fondly”…what a dis! Seems Gene knew his place.I don’t doubt that he cared for her and they had a friendly, affectionate relationship. But they certainly were not burning up the pages when they were apart, were they? This was a passionate woman and someone else was lighting her fire. I’ll guarantee you that.

    • I’ll bet you’ve never sent your husband an entirely-punctuated-with-exclamation-points list of marching orders, either! Gene’s supposed to make a salon appointment for her and tell the salon people that she wants her pedicure while her hair is getting done, and then prance around the house arranging decorative accents????? Wow. I mean, she could have asked him to do any/all of those things in a more…….friendly, familiar, marital tone. Nowhere does she say, “I really need a salon appointment, do you mind calling for me?” or “If you were wondering what to do with that silly pink lamp you hate, you can put it ____________” or even a “Thanks, babe, and hey, change the sheets while you’re at it, can’t wait to see you! 😉 ” AFTER A SIX WEEK SEPARATION. They’d only been married 3 years at this point.


      • My point being is that she’s not writing to him like someone she’s supposed to be in love with. She’s writing to him like he is a secretary or servant. They are not on the same rung of the ladder.

      • True that, but in a balanced personal relationship, neither party has to issue marching orders. That kind of behavior kills real intimacy.

  3. I’m pretty sure I laughed aloud at the “man world” portion! Oh, dear. Too good.

    Congratulations on the gloves! How thrilling. They look so little. What size do you reckon they are?!

  4. So funny. Oh Jeanette, what a little diva you were at times. ‘Fondly’ is no way to sign off when writing to the love of your life, but then of course he wasn’t. As you so rightly say Katie, if she’d tried those tactics with Nelson as she undoubtedly did (i.e. his singing requirements) then he’d have pulled her up sharp in a blink of an eye. She was I think, bossy by nature (telling the church congregation at the age of three that they should applaud her performance!) but there were people such behaviour would work with, and then there was Nelson.
    Yes, she was undoubtedly fond of Gene, but then there’s a vast difference in loving someone and being ‘in love’ with someone. Gene obviously cared for her too (at the time) what a pity that wasn’t so during the last crucial weeks of her life.
    Anyway, I digress. The eBay auction is distasteful to say the least. Yes there are some wonderful things on there, but if they’d just been marked up, even at a ridiculously high price, it would have been better than setting things on par with a cattle market.
    You are a far more charitable person than I am, because you can feel sympathy for a person who in my opinion only ever exploited Jeanette. A person who, even after the dear sweet soul was gone, still exploited her and continues to do so by having her treasured possessions sold off to the highest bidder.
    Anyway, I am getting irate now and will have this post rejected if I carry on, so it leaves me to thank you for yet another amazing and informative blog post, and to thank Angela for having such a calculating mind and for putting things into perspective.

  5. I’m coming across your fantastic blog so late in the game. Just wonderful!

    I had to comment that I’ve ALWAYS hated Gene Raymond even before I became a Jeanette MacDonald fan.

    In his films he’s a either a milquetoast (“Red Dust”) or a downright dick/rat/grabby guy who’s rude and rough with his romantic interest (watch “The Bride Walks Out”…CLASSIC Gene Raymond role). If this was just acting I’d understand, but it’s not. You can see that he’s just being himself. If Mayer hadn’t cut his career short, he would’ve done it on his own. Terrible actor in terrible roles and a private life that was oh-so-out-there cruising parks for young boys/men. Behavior he continued after marriage with his ‘beard’ in place and loads of cash to play with…

    Poor Jeanette MacDonald that she ever met this clinging, shiftless woman-hater. I feel so sad for her, sad for the wonderful Nelson Eddy, sad for all of us!

    (excuse the language…Mr. Raymond brings out the worst in me!)

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