J-Mac x 2

Hi all,

Two more shots of Jeanette, the first one being a chestnut mined on the California trip, the second one mined from a box in my mother’s basement—one day I’ll get the other two truckloads of my crap out of her house. Feel free to download, print, etc for personal use but no altering or re-posting, please.

To the jackhole who had the actual gall to swipe the picture of Nelson with the lawn chairs and try to sell it, only to have Angela bust them and, uh, “persuade” them (she’s sort of magical when she’s pissed) to yank their auction down 20 minutes later………..DO YOU ACTUALLY IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN THINK WE DO NOT SEE WHAT IS POSTED ON EBAY???

I repeat, nobody likes a jerk.

Anyway, we will not let that stop us from bringing you beautiful things! And we will just patrol ebay as usual!

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Oooohhhhhh. Right??? Whatta stunna. ❤

This one, I framed. Because I literally need this mug on YET ANOTHER surface in my house. Ah well, she classes up the joint, what do you want from me?

Beauty. Never do I want to be SO bogged down in the research that I forget what it’s like to be a fan. She’s one of a kind.

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Diaries and Letters and Shades of Gray

If there’s one thing that Jeanette is like really, really creepy good at, it’s keeping more than one iron in the fire. Consider the published book of her writings, The Irving Stone Letters, which offers a very authentic, often hilarious, sometimes TMI (“isles-pay”??? REALLY???), sometimes frustrated, thoroughly chatty picture of our unfiltered 1920s (and early 30s) MacDonald: Broadway Baby, singing sensation, party girl, tease, drinker of port, user of rude words, milk farm inmate.

Here’s a really fantastic thing. If you have this book, flip to page 41. Monday, September 13, 1927. The handwritten original follows. Jeanette begins:

“Irving dearest– Do you miss me–I wonder–I’ve never missed anyone so much before–really seems a nuisance to come out from rehearsal and find no Big Irving.”

(PS she had a hangover Sunday, people in the world who think she didn’t drink…)

Later in the letter:

“Nextly, I saw the ex [Jack Ohmeis] and, my dear, I could hardly look him in the eye and when he made love to me I was very much afraid I’d fess up but I know that wouldn’t have helped matters and every once in awhile during the evening I found myself thinking of you and you & me. Well, you can imagine.”

BOOM. Two involvements. One soprano. And she’s very open about it, but in a way that leads Irving to believe that he is still the Number One Man.

And then along comes Bob Ritchie, and while still corresponding on the reg and seemingly involved with Irving Stone, she (in a letter so lovey-dovey it is positively tooth-rotting) writes Bob:

“Gee! Gosh! I get almost sick thinking about you and how far away you are — oh daddy darling of mine, I could weep for the love of you–I’d give almost anything to have you fold me in your arms tonite and whisper, ‘I love you.'”

And later, in the same letter:

“I’m going to beddy now, my own–I also mean my own bed but I do wish it were yours. Move over! All I can think of now is you and how much I love & miss you. I’ll write more tomorrow. I’m tired now but I want you to know you’re my life and love and I’m yours forever and ever.”

Jeanette, for whatever else she may or may not have been, was no nun, folks. She had the gift of gab in real life and she was a prolific letter writer all through her life. She has the real gift of making the recipient feel like they are the only person in the entire world that she could possibly ever care about. In these early letters, we see these patterns being established–patterns that she would continue. Recently, a lengthy and thoroughly charming letter from Jeanette to Gene Raymond, surfaced. Jeanette is alternately worried, proud, political, bossy and flirtatious with her husband, who was overseas during the war. It was presented like it was a Giant Missile of Truth that was going to shatter every argument, every shred of research that has suggested that this marriage wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

I’m sure she DID love Gene. I’m sure she DID miss Gene. I’m sure she WAS worried about Gene. After all, she did marry the guy, did she not? And she did call him, by her own admission, c. 1948, and ask if he loved her, and followed that up with asking him if he wanted a divorce. Obviously she cared on at least some level. He may not have been her first choice, but when she got engaged to him in 1936, following a break up with Nelson Eddy, who, for that moment in time could not seem to get a grip on his delayed adolescence — and when she walked down the aisle to him in 1937, she decided he was the safe choice, the sane choice. Gene got along with her mother. Gene didn’t threaten her career in any way shape or form. Gene didn’t make known to her any anger issues or general craziness. Gene liked to dance, ride, swim and play tennis. Gene was good looking and fun at parties. Yeah, Gene’s mom was a holy terror, but lots of people deal with in-law drama and live to talk about it. Gene did not challenge her. Take it from someone who has the footage of the two of them performing on Toast of the Town, doing the little patter song Gene wrote called How D’ya Do—he can’t bat in her league. The ONLY way they can perform together is for her to come DOWN to his level.

(Side Note: I viewed Jeanette’s scrapbooks at UCLA while I was in LA and there’s a freaking HILARIOUS article in the one dedicated to The Guardsman that says it’s good, she’s good, and “all it needs is Nelson Eddy”……..I laughed, and then I considered how perfectly succinct of a statement that was about literally everything. Nelson in that show with her? You couldn’t have gotten them to Broadway fast enough. Gene? Meh.)

Nelson was a whole other animal. They were so, so alike on so many levels. They were both insatiably ambitious, both driven, both perfectionists, both had made their way the hard way and paid their dues. Both brilliantly talented. Both dealing with some childhood scars. Jeanette would never stop trying to please her mother, who never gave her the validation her heart truly needed. Nelson had a lot of residual anger from the terrible behavior of and abandonment by his father. The sex was, by all accounts, mind-blowing, and the blending of their voices too sublime for mere mortals to stand without complete implosion. But they made each other effing nuts.

Many people have commented on that: they either couldn’t keep their hands off each other or they weren’t speaking. Middle ground is not something that really happens with the Eddy and the Mac. They can’t resist each other, and sometimes they are exactly what each other needs more than anything, but sometimes they are not good for each other.

And along comes Gene, into the middle of this business. He’s cute and fun and cultivates Jeanette’s friendship and doesn’t try to run her straight to bed. Nelson is still over here demanding that she kick the movie racket and get busy with the barefoot and pregnant routine, and the hell with all her hard work. I make no apology for the man; he was divine and gorgeous and a wonderful guy and probably heaven in bed but he also had a lot of growing up to do at this particular juncture and I wouldn’t have married him, then, either. I would have, later, but that’s not what we’re talking about. To that end, in the mid 30s, non-threatening Gene was probably really, really good for her. When you take into account the Nelson vs. Gene, passion vs. sanity, highs and lows vs. stability and a good tennis game…well, Jeanette’s choice of husband may not be all that shocking. Gene may not light her fire like Nelson does, but sometimes, at the end of the day, a good night’s sleep ranks higher than mad passion. The complications arise with the fact that it’s just NOT. THAT. SIMPLE.

None of this discounts, I don’t think, Nelson’s lasting presence in her life. From her napping in his arms on the set of Maytime to her pregnant belly, visible in Sweethearts, to how many many many darling candid shots of them on the radio, to This is Your Life, to Nelson getting on a plane and attending Jeanette’s opening of The King and I in 1956 in full evening dress (in an outdoor venue) and her skipping the opening night party to melt away into the darkness with him, to Nelson VERY COINCIDENTALLY leasing an apartment in the same complex as her, at the end, to being on the receiving end of condolences and handshakes at her funeral like he’s the widower, Nelson is almost always there. Barring a couple of breakups, Nelson’s presence is everywhere. It’s documentable. It’s provable. Jeanette talks about being attracted to and dating Nelson, before she married Gene, in her autobiography. We’ve recently made public an original letter from Nelson, Christmas of 1935, where he tells her he loves her and will always be devoted to her. That should tell you something. The fact that, from the page where she gets engaged to end of her book is only ninety-two pages should tell you SO. MUCH. MORE. Sometimes it’s not always just in black and white. Sometimes the most important things are unsaid. Surely from 1936 to the early 1960s, told in her own words, should fill more than ninety-two pages. So why is it pared down like that? She writes prolifically from her early childhood up through Naughty Marietta. And then the details vanish. The anecdotal stuff is sparse. No real fun on-set stories. Nothing about what it was like, making all those movies with Nelson. Nothing, in short, that the fans wanted to read about. What couldn’t she talk about? Doesn’t the possibility exist that so much of what was in her life was so caught up with someone she wasn’t “supposed to” love…so she couldn’t talk about it? And everything that she COULD talk about from a +/-25 year period, safely, without Nelson, filled………….ninety-two pages.

The mistake I think we ALL make, as people who love Jeanette, is we are too entrenched in our insistent belief that she is absolutely, black and white, 100% on one “side” or the other of how we view her life. She was, after all, a Gemini, was she not? I think she had a hell of a lot on her plate and I think she did the best she could under her very bizarre set of circumstances. I do not believe she was immoral or a bad person. I do not judge her AT ALL for doing what she did. I think she should have had all the happiness in the world. Since it’s documentable that she had way more than her fair share of misery, I’m pretty much all about her grabbing happiness wherever she can find it. Sometimes I think that person was probably Gene. Many times I think that person was Nelson. Some people want to pretend Nelson was never a thing, that it’s really the Jeanette and Gene show 800% of the time. Meredith Wilson’s wry comment, upon attending a Clan Clave was, “It’s like Nelson never existed.” Some people can’t come to terms with the fact that yes, Nelson slept with other women, including Gale Sherwood, who–good lord above–if you want to talk about someone who has been on the receiving end of a lot of misplaced hate, look no further. Some people want to pretend Gene doesn’t exist, or can’t see a picture of him without making a derogatory remark. Some people actually like Ann Eddy…………….????????? Like it or not, it was as a team that Nelson and Jeanette were best known, best loved and best remembered. Like it or not, Gene and Ann are important players in this story. For me, I’m not the most anti-Gene Raymond person in the world, actually, most of the time. There’s a couple of instances in their younger days that make me want to rip him limb from limb, but I’m basically more-or-less ok until Jeanette’s heath starts failing and he starts neglecting the ever loving shit out of her, entertaining his ManFriends in his half of the apartment while Jeanette needs help and is being ignored on her side. That’s when we have a big, big problem, and that, of course, is what is being discussed later in this post. Don’t even get me started on the commercial plane to Houston.

I will suggest that Jeanette’s life was not one-dimensional or able to be completely pinned down in her writings to one person—to or from, for or against. That goes for both sides. What these writings DO do is give us a more complete picture, more data, a better story, more clarity, a larger window into the psyche of this woman. Ultimately, if EVERYONE gets a better understanding of Jeanette and her life, then on some level, this complete weirdness has been a success. I must admit it’s refreshing, anyway, to see the Saints getting on board with the idea that MacDonald Sex is a thing. Clap clap clap. She married Gene Raymond. I’ve always assumed that, at one time or another, that meant she had sex with him, too. I also know that they had separate bedrooms and later, separate (though adjoining) apartments. Jeanette made her marriage work. Honestly, on SOME kind of level, so did Nelson. Everybody limped along in this supremely jacked up world they lived in, since there wasn’t a solution in sight that worked for all four people, despite the many, many discussions and attempts. Two of them died far too young, and there is no way in hell you’ll ever convince me that Jeanette’s death did not directly impact Nelson’s.

The bottom line is, Jeanette demonstrated an early-established ability to keep more than one pot on the boil at a time. What her letters to any/all/either of her men prove concretely, is that she’s following her own pattern and she’s doing what she needs to do to keep on keepin’ on, in her life. I myself am eager to read absolutely everything that’s out there, because ALL of it has value and ALL of it is part of this story. Everything is a piece of the greater puzzle.

But while we’re sharing meaningful handwritten data, here’s some more stuff from Jeanette’s 1963 desk diary, ten months’ worth (she didn’t write in November or December, as she was in the hospital) of her daily comings and goings, appointments, eating habits, weight and health information.

I mentioned, both on this blog and in my presentation at the June Mac/Eddy Club Meeting, that the word “alone” is in here more times than I can even count.

Well. I did count them, last night, and the total is 44.

Forty-four times in ten months, Jeanette feels alone enough to make a note of it. Dozens of times, she writes “stayed home” next to plans that had been written previously, and even more frequently than that, she writes “no sleep” to begin her day. I really don’t know how this woman kept going as long as she did on this little rest. She tried to take a nap almost every day, but frequently she didn’t get her nap, either.

Gene is almost never home. He’s in New York for a month, from Feb 25 to March 23. He’s in Chicago, in Philadelphia, he’s at March Field doing his Air Force stuff all the time, he’s in Santa Ana, he’s anywhere but with her, a solid 80-85% of the time, and MANY of his engagements are social. And like, I recognize that the man is working, too, but it’s very clear, even from reading these pages, that Jeanette is not well. She would, in fact, be dead 15 months after her last entry in this book. Gene couldn’t arrange to be around to take care of her, but he certainly found time to have a documented involvement with Jan Clayton (they were both heavy drinkers), per HER own letters. He basically intimated that Jeanette didn’t have long to live and, rather than divorce her, he’d just wait until she died and then he and Jan would get married at an appropriate time. Of course, this never happened, but PLEASE, GENE, BE MORE OF A LOWLIFE. (Sweethearts, page 496)

Here are just a few examples of her concerning health entries:

Jan28

Jan30

She’s dizzy, frequently. She went to her Science of Mind church class and had a “turn”. On top of which, she’s getting a cold, and spent the next week seeing doctors daily for nose washes and the like. She isn’t sleeping and she feels like hell.

Feb1

“Can’t seem to eliminate urine” and “Seem to have laryngitis” so she calls her doctor and he tells her to stop taking her Phenergan. Naturally, I looked it up, and it seems like it is used for pretty much everything that ails her, from allergies to insomnia to motion sickness to nausea and dizziness. The problem is, there are potentially dangerous interactions with people who have heart trouble. Here’s an informative description of the drug. Yikes. And obviously it wasn’t helping her sleep, but it was making it so she couldn’t urinate. Dear God, poor Jeanette. Seems like every normal bodily function gets screwed up in this poor woman’s body at some point or other.

I feel like a loving spouse, when their partner is this ill, would scale back their own activities to, you know, maybe be around more. MORE TO THE POINT, this woman shouldn’t effing be left alone! What the hell is his problem, joyriding around with his friends when she’s having dizzy spells, she’s not sleeping, she is underweight–and that’s without having any of these other issues like colds and vomiting and hysterical crying because she thinks she’s dying and various bathroom troubles. Didn’t he take an “in sickness and in health” vow, MacRaymond marriage enthusiasts? I guess his idea of supportive care is firing her nurse, taking her phone out of her bedroom, dumping drugs in her fruit juice, telling visitors she was sleeping and couldn’t see them and leaving her to rot, unattended for 8 days and then shipping what’s left of her to Texas on a commercial flight when ANY FAN OFF THE STREET would have taken better care of her. But I’m getting way ahead of myself, here. Oh, heck, we’re getting to that place where I feel like hell’s too good for Gene.

Anyway, as you can see:

Feb2and3

“GR not home” — another thing to note on this page, that’s Gene’s handwriting at the top, “GR – MC”. So for those of you wondering why she wrote “Visitor!!” instead of “Nelson’s here!!!1one!” — well, here’s the proof that Gene had access to this book, if he wanted it. So why is she going to give him something else to flip out about? They have enough fights and bad spells between them in this 10 month period alone, and that’s with him hardly ever being home!!!…….so what was the rest of the time like?

Feb4thru7

Oh, look. She’s sick enough that she doesn’t go to her Science of Mind class, which she attended as often as she was able and seems to have thoroughly enjoyed and found interesting, and…………..Gene’s gone a lot. Once at a meeting, once to a banquet and once “away all day”.

cantlocateGR

“Can’t locate GR”

March19

“_____ (illegible) all night and threw up my breakfast” Then she went somewhere and “threw up on way home”. 😦

March23migraine March24twomigraines

Gene arrived home after being gone a month. She had a migraine that night and TWO migraines the next day. THAT IS NOT GOOD. Those are only a few of the many migraines she had this year. It is known that she had a benign brain tumor, most likely diagnosed in 1960 (Fredda Balling notes how very, very sick Jeanette was when they were trying to work on her autobiography) and, of course, migraines are widely recognized as one of the symptoms. More information on that relationship here. Further, several pieces of documentation exist that suggest that Jeanette was seeing an oncologist at UCLA about this, and indeed, appointments at UCLA are noted several times in this diary.

On page 496 of Sweethearts, it is noted that sometimes when she and Nelson were on the phone, she would get “hysterical” and be frightened that she was dying (sourced from both Blossom and Sunny Griffin). Funny story, when this diary came to the fore, Jeanette herself writes of going into hysterics more than once:

April10hysterics

She had a “bad nite” and “GR home very late”, she weighs only a hundred pounds but she’s skipping meals and Gene is gone again all day. I’m getting out of sequential order here, but here is the other mention of her “hysterics” on July 15. She had no sleep and no nap, is overtired and gets hysterical.

July15hysterics

June 6, she and Gene have a “big fight” — she had gone to the apartment to meet with the guy who was doing some design and decorating for them, and Harold didn’t show up, which resulted in her presumably coming “home too early” and encountering Gene, which it looks like she could have avoided if she had waited longer….

June6bigfight

And, as I’ve already published, she was alone on her 60th birthday (which makes me sad…this woman LOVED birthdays and loved to make a big deal out of them, loved to give parties for birthdays, loved to have a fuss made over her birthday, was absolutely always eating birthday cake in a picture, etc etc and this is a huge milestone birthday and nobody seems to give a rat’s ass), and Gene showed up for dinner but there was a “big quarrel” that evening about the “same old thing”:

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snip4

There was no “our” apartment. There was a his and hers, two units with an adjoining door. Rather an odd arrangement for a happily married couple, especially when one of the partners is not well, nevertheless, observe Jeanette’s clear distinction between his and hers, June 20 and 21:

June20grside June21myside

And on June 25, she’s dealing with more dizziness:

June25dizzy

She washed her hair, obviously wasn’t feeling well because she canceled Harold, then was “terribly dizzy after dinner” — oh, and Gene showed up in time to eat, it seems.

August 8: “not much sleep” and “GR pretty bad”

Aug8GRprettybad

And on the 18th of August:

Aug18badday

She’s just not well, guys.

Sept11

Gene says he’s going to the apartment to “arrange books” but isn’t back as of 3:45AM. He “says he went for a drive up coast” and “I went over twice, started calling at 11:30, no A[nswer]” and “GR in awful mood” …..So he’s lying and defensive about it? That’s what I’m reading, anyway.

Oct8hadspellcanttalk

“Had spell can’t talk”

On page 503 of Sweethearts, it is noted that it was rumored that she had a small stroke around this time and that her speech was temporarily affected. This is without anyone ever seeing this diary until now.

Oct11migraine

And another migraine. There are at least 3 or 4 more that I didn’t clip for the purposes of this post. That’s not normal.

My thanks to Maria and Angela for their partnership with me on this diary. Posts like this will really just take all the fun out of everything, because you find yourself feeling so awful that Jeanette’s last years were so unhappy and unhealthy. But I think to pretend everything was just hunky dory, fine and great, is to do her a far greater disservice. It’s important to understand the facts of what she was going through, so that one can understand how other facts fit into this puzzle. Some of the stuff you read about her, you honestly don’t want to be true–that’s human nature. I think if all of us who love her had the choice, we’d have her tucked away into a blissful marriage with a perfect man, because we love her and want her to be happy. Sadly, that was not the case. It’s not “fun” — but it’s reality, and sometimes reality isn’t fun. I’ve seen the phrase “it’s complicated” being mocked in regards to this story….but, isn’t it?

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:

JAMletterranttoGRwar

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.
[EDIT!!!!]
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.
[END EDIT]
Here are the telegrams:
JAMtelegrams
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

One Kiss

I am currently sitting in the dining room of the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Washington, D.C. This is our last morning here in the city, and we’re taking this time to review our research of the past two days and start to get it organized for sharing. I want to start out by thanking Sharon Rich for her complete support of Angela’s and my research. Just as in June, the last time we did this, Sharon has been only a text away the entire time and her excitement about what we are doing has only fueled ours.

The thrilling thing for both of us is that every time we have taken special interest in a detail of this story (the devil is in the details!) and tried to hunt it down, it has supported Sharon’s research and claims. The example that immediately springs to mind is that Sharon wrote in Sweethearts about what she had been told about Nelson’s involvement in Jeanette’s funeral and how he was the last one of the honorary pallbearers to come out of the church because he paused an extra moment with the casket before it was closed. In June, as you remember, we unearthed raw, unedited funeral footage of both Jeanette’s and Nelson’s funerals. This footage had never been seen and, guess what, Sharon didn’t even know that it existed, folks. It literally was unused footage in the bowels of the ABC archives….and guess who the last guy out of the church is, before the casket comes out? Nelson. A small thing, but a vitally important thing, one that validates what Sharon was told by a source, one of those sources that you delightful creatures out in Saint Land like to claim are not real or truthful. And those tiny, important things happen all the time.

That was really the nature of this trip. It would be a bit much for us to expect the same total windfall that we experienced in June, with a half-hour’s worth of never before seen television footage, as well as priceless radio recordings that tell their own story and were considered lost. This trip was more about the details. The stack of articles we found and printed is two inches thick. Countless others were saved to flash drives or made note of. Several rare recordings were obtained, as well as some never-released press pictures that we had to handle with white linen gloves. I love that stuff. There were a few other things, too. All in good time, dear readers.

The subject I’m going to discuss today concerns early production on New Moon and one of Jeanette’s many radio appearances around this time. As we know, relations were quite strained between Jeanette and Nelson as they went into production in the fall of 1939. Nelson had made the unfortunate, irrevocable mistake of marrying Ann Franklin in January, Jeanette subsequently tried to off herself, it was just general bad times for a good while. They hadn’t spent any time together. I seem to remember some ass telling Jeanette that Nelson was at a party she was at, and her blanching and being like, “Nelson, here?” and making excuses to get the heck home. Woody Van Dyke, their dear and trusted friend, was the original director on New Moon, with Robert Z. Leonard producing, but early on, Woody got pulled off the project to go expedite matters on I Take This Woman. Pop Leonard took over directorial duties as well (hence the camera making rampant love to Jeanette’s eyes in a few close-up shots. Watch Pop Leonard’s other Jeanette movies, namely Maytime and The Firefly, and you see a love affair between his lens and Jeanette’s big, gorgeous eyes).

Variety notes that pre-recording the score of New Moon began on October 23, 1939. That’s a Monday. In Sweethearts, Sharon notes that New Moon began on November 6, 1939–also a Monday, two weeks later. Given these two dates, I think it’s safe to assume that the November 6th date means principle photography—the start of shooting, in other words. Two weeks for pre-recording is a legit window. In the manuscript of her doomed autobiography, Jeanette notes October 28, 1939, as the start of New Moon. That was a Saturday, for those keeping score here, and seems less likely than the other two dates, which work together. Maybe she meant 23? Who knows. Anyway, that’s all the data—someone is likely slightly mistaken, but the ballpark remains the same.

new moon note

In the early moments of production, Jeanette was very professionally cool towards Nelson, not making a fuss but not doing one iota more than she had to, either. Nelson, desperate to make things right between them and reconcile with her, was trying all manner of things to break down her walls. He fouled up majorly, and knew it, and needed her to acknowledge his profound remorse. The thing I love about these two is it is never, EVER about “I don’t love you” or “I’m not in love with you” or “I’ve stopped loving you”…….loving each other was never their problem. It was everything else. Even at their lowest lows (and they had some appallingly low ones), the acknowledged that they loved each other. It wasn’t a question. It never seemed to be a threat or ammunition between them in a fight…they both knew the score.

As she was preparing to work on One Kiss, one of her solo numbers in the film, and one of the most erotically lyric-ed songs she ever recorded, in my opinion (yeah it’s a pretty tune but LISTEN TO THE WORDS, yo!) Nelson sent her the following note, which I copied from Sweethearts, but it is sourced from the Isabel Eddy memoirs:

Sing even if you don’t mean it – sing it just for me. You can take all the time you want, but you are coming back to me, you have to. Meanwhile, remember this, my love for you is indestructible. No matter what happens, nothing and no one in all the universe can change or hurt it. Remember that.

Oh, Nels.

So, here’s my thing. I’m preeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetty sure (no way to be 100% positive, I guess), but I’m pretty sure they weren’t hanging around for each other’s solo recording sessions on this movie. Maybe on other ones when they were using any excuse to be together, but the atmosphere being what it was, I would bet that our little Ice Queen either outright insisted on recording alone or just….worked it out that way.

Variety states on October 24, 1939, that she had recorded One Kiss “yesterday” — so Monday, the 23rd. That’s a solo. I’m guessing that Nelson hadn’t heard it yet because he wasn’t on hand for her solo sessions. But she would have gotten his note.

Variety10.24.39

However, on October 29th, 1939 (a Sunday), Jeanette made an appearance on a radio show called Community Chest. And……guess what she pulls from her repertoire to sing.

🙂

This recording has never been made available before. We found it in the Library of Congress’s collection back in June and submitted a request for it to be digitized. We heard it for the first time on Monday, recorded a copy and here we are.

Now, could she have chosen to sing this because she was rehearsed for it, having just recorded it that prior week? Yeah, sure she could. BUT, what sticks out to me about this is the fact that New Moon wasn’t released until June 28th, 1940, a full eight months after this. Additionally, though the Romberg operetta is called New Moon, the film version starring MacDonald and Eddy was originally titled Lover, Come Back to Me. So, first of all, I think it’s too early for her to be doing publicity for the movie that had JUST started pre-recording (how many other projects get to the pre-recording stage and then get shelved or discarded? Many.)—-the fact is, according to the practices of the time, it was way too early in the game for her to be singing songs from the movie to publicize it. And, since Lover, Come Back to Me was the original working title, if she WAS doing this for publicity, why didn’t she sing that? It would have been the title song. Fred MacMurray even points this out in the sort of faded out sounding post-script to her performance. Or she could have easily have sung any number of the songs she had already made uber famous. One Kiss is, indeed, an interesting choice.

We know Nelson and Jeanette used this kind of thing to communicate with each other. To me, it seems highly, highly likely that this choice was in response to his note. Think about it. Think how safe this is–he isn’t around, isn’t physically there, so she doesn’t have to talk it out with him afterwards, or look him in the eye, or get grabbed up in his arms when she knows she doesn’t have the power to resist him. It’s an olive branch. A safe olive branch, from a distance. Yes, I got your note. Yes, I still love you. Yes, I’m singing this for you. Consider how she looks in the film, during Wanting You. She is all Professional Actress Face for the beginning of the number, then we see her resistance crumble, we see her breathing like she’s just sprinted a mile. Then we see that tentative, cautious hand reach out towards him and with that, his entire performance changes and sweeps her along with it. This choice of song is like that hand. She wants him, wants what they have, but she’s scared of the avalanche.

WantingYouTakeMeNow

The Sterilization of Jeanette MacDonald

I’m ba-aack. 😀

So, yesterday, I posted a bunch of photos in one of my favorite Facebook groups, including one of Jeanette, Claude Jarman, Jr., and Lassie (or maybe it was Major, Lassie’s stand in?) sitting in a tent, around a heater, obviously cold, on the set of The Sun Comes Up, Jeanette’s final movie. This picture launched a whole LONG discourse between myself and several of the members of the group about Jeanette’s last two films.

Disclaimer: I love all of Jeanette’s movies. All of them, with the possible exception of The Vagabond King. So understand that the forthcoming criticisms are, yes, criticisms, but there is MUCH to love and appreciate about these movies just the way they are.

Also understand that being personally critical of Jeanette is not something at which I’m super good. I ain’t about getting hit by lightning and homegirl’s aim is pretty spot on. So.

Now, for Three Daring Daughters (can we please agree to refer to it from now on as TDD? Yeah? Great.), MGM cast the current “it” guy, Jose Iturbi, incredible pianist, heavily accented short little fellow, as Jeanette’s love interest. He’s supposed to rock her world so hard that she abandons the “shackles” of being a single mom to three teen/preteen girls and marries him on a whim during an extended boat trip. Oh. Okay. Well, for starters, our Jeanette is a tallish (5’5″), willowy beauty…and she’s legit taller than him in her heels and upswept hair. And for me, that’s sort of an immediate buzzkill. They look …not sexy… together. This is the movies and stuff like that matters, I’m sorry. Secondly, there is absolutely no passion. No clinch. No “I shouldn’t, it’s wrong, I’m so responsible but ohhhhhhhhhhh do it again, don’t stop……” scene that would have lent a shred of authenticity to the idea of this very strong, independent, intelligent single mom (she’s the editor of a high powered magazine) throwing caution to the wind. We don’t see her actually throw the caution. We see her blow out a candle and in the next scene she’s ditched the Serious Mom Wigs and has cute shorter curly hair. And as if to remind us how super wild and kinky the honeymoon was, that scene also has the one kiss in the movie—-an afterthought peck in fadeout. Like they’ve been married 112 years, not approximately 12 seconds.

And see, this ticks me off. Louise Morgan really, if treated better by the script, could have become Jeanette’s most compelling portrayal, but she doesn’t get half a chance. In the scene where she’s wearing this gorgeous orangey-coral dress and hum/singing along to You Made Me Love You, floating in via piano from the next cabin, you get a glimpse of what might have been. You see Louise yearn. You hear this low, soft voice, and the way she’s lounging around on the sofa…yep, this is a woman who is in touch with the fact that she maybe has been missing out on some Man Things since she ditched the girls’ father. She is sexy. She is gorgeous. She experiences desire. She has layers and feelings and longings—it occurs to her, and us, that maybe she’d like a kind of love that doesn’t come from her kids. Maybe she’d like to be a woman and not just Mommy.

(Now just imagine that the camera cuts to Nelson Eddy playing that damn piano. …Now that everyone is a little giddy in the pants, I’ll remind you all that it wasn’t Nelson. Many sorries.)

The fact that Jeanette is able to bring us these layers in that very short space of time is a tribute to what she is capable of as an actress. Then the camera reveals that it’s Mr. Iturbi and the viewer is sort of like, “…Oh.” But see, we see Sexy Jeanette for half a second, and lest that get dangerous (MOM CHARACTERS CANNOT BE SEXY!!!! ESPECIALLY JEANETTE MACDONALD MOM CHARACTERS BECAUSE SHE’S STILL A VIRGIN GUYS.), we have to temper that with Very Safe G-Rated Little Piano Man. I promise, I’m really NOT hating on Mr. Iturbi. I think he’s a great talent, Jeanette said he was good to work with, he was sweet to the kids (particularly Ann Todd who played Ilka, as she was a pianist), and he’s charming in a cute way. But as a romantic leading man for my girl Jeanette he is totally unsatisfying.

And THIS, friends, is the crux of the problem.

MGM—as many things as it did well and right with regard to the motion picture art form—mishandled the MacDonald sexuality.

Let me put you in touch with Jeanette Anna of the pre-MGM days.

They called her The Lingerie Queen of the Talkies.

Famous Quote: “I’m sure people must say about me, on the screen, ‘Good gracious, is Jeanette MacDonald going to take off her clothes – again?'”

undiesbackJeanetteUndies  youngandsultry  undies

I mean, hell, Maurice Chevalier measured her boobs in Love Me Tonight:

chevalierboobmeasurement

And she totally mouth-kissed a girl in One Hour With You:

WTFJeanette

Yeah, yeah, that was all Pre-Code. I get it. I do. BUT……it’s also a little hilarious how the general public opinion of Jeanette contains words like “highbrow” and “prissy” and “proper” and “ladylike” and “icy” and “frigid” and on and on and on. THE ABOVE PICTURES ARE HOW SHE GOT FAMOUS IN THE MOVIES, PEOPLE.

She was on Broadway first. She was Musical Theatre, not Opera—and she really wanted to be “Opera”—something that would fascinate her about Nelson Eddy when they met. HE was “Opera”…..she was “Musical Theatre” and nary the twain shall meet. Usually. She proved ’em wrong. 🙂

So Jeanette gets to Metro and she makes The Cat and the Fiddle, which I think of as sort of a transition for her, because she looks prettier (she was always beautiful but EVERYBODY is a little prettier at Metro, that’s just how it works) but she still is retaining the threads of the Jeanette that the movie audiences know. And there’s some suggestiveness here; the main characters are shacked up but not married, there’s kissing in bed, she tells him about basically dreaming about him naked, etc. It came out in 1934, that pivotal year for The Code, which applied to all movies released on or after July first (Thanks, Sharon, I hadn’t remembered the date)—and it seems to have squeaked out just in time, as most of it was filmed in 1933. Then came The Merry Widow, which Metro produced but which brought together the team she already had established elsewhere: Chevalier and director Ernst Lubitsch. So really, aside from the sheer BEAUTY of the production—the sets and costumes are VERY Metro and VERY lavishly beautiful—it doesn’t really feel like an MGM movie. Lubitsch made everything he did have that pre-code feel. As Jeanette discusses in her interview with Tony Thomas later in life, his specialty was whimsical innuendo.

The big image change happened when she and Nelson teamed up for Naughty Marietta. The movie, as we all know, was a barn-burning sensation, launched the Mac/Eddy team and so on and so forth—it has MUCH to commend it on every level, but the fact of the matter is that gone forever was the Jeanette that movie audiences had known and enjoyed previously.

Mariettaembrace

She’s stunning and startlingly beautiful, to coin a phrase, all swathed in period costume after period costume. She’s coquettish and coy but never seriously sexual. The typical pattern is that we see her first, she gets the first song, he’s usually not as important in life station as she is, he likes her immediately, she doesn’t like him, then she REALLY likes him but is hard to get, then they sing a duet and are officially in love until struggles force them to part but they usually are reunited (and if not, he gets to die on her powdered bosom a couple times). The “formula” is not complicated. Nobody cares about this. When the two of them open their mouths to sing, the rest of the world can go hang itself. They were the absolute best at what they did and that’s all there is to it. You can be someone who likes Jeanette better or likes Nelson better, I think we all have our preferences, but if you can’t recognize that it was TOGETHER that they were best known, best loved and did their best work…….well, you’re an idiot.

But the fact of the matter is that her figure, and indeed, her actual sexual presence, went from being her stock in trade (apart from her voice, obviously) to what Modern Screen (If I’ve mis-attributed that quote, please correct me, but I’m almost positive it was Modern Screen, in the little gossip blurbs, and I think I have the actual copy of the magazine where it’s mentioned) termed the “best kept secret in Hollywood.”

That’s what happens at Metro, friends. Family pictures, you know.

(I’m not knocking that either, really. I think we could use a hell of a lot more family pictures in this day and age.)

The thing is, as their personal relationship developed, so did their chemistry on screen. Jeanette and Nelson can’t help but be sexy together. Please observe this clip, a zoomed in look at their hands duing the Obey Your Heart sequence in Girl of the Golden West. I’m not going to go into all the back story of what was going on (but Sharon did a great and recent analysis of it, go here.) but the fact of the matter is that nobody in 1937 is going to DIRECT this sort of hand play in a very Code-happy studio environment. Just look:

I mean, please imagine that he was doing that to ANY OTHER part of her body. Pick one. That is some seriously sexy business right there, and her thumb is playing right back. My point is, moments of sexy show up in every single movie, whether the studio wanted them to or not, Hayes Code be damned. But why did Metro want her to be seen as such an innocent type? Could it be that Mayer, who long-nursed a personal soft spot for Jeanette, didn’t want her charms on display? Could it be that the more intense the passion looked with Nelson, the less the public would be enamored of the humongous studio sponsored marriage to Gene Raymond? I mean, selling Gene to the public as Jeanette’s husband was a hard enough job anyway. But marrying her off to the absolutely-NEVER-threatening-to-the-ivory-tower Raymond ensured that she was seen as prim, boring, prudish and dispassionate. And then her damn fan club took it from there and here we are.

Amazing too, how they are shunted off into separate pictures when things are a little too risky. Rosalie and The Firefly happened between Maytime and Girl of the Golden West. What else happened in that era? Jeanette’s wedding. Letting them be together at work was too risky. They might decide to rage against the Machine and run off together. Something might slip. They were blissfully happy, even though Jeanette was married, during the making of Sweethearts, until Jeanette lost Nelson’s child at around six months of gestation. The Mayer Machine just BARELY gets away with keeping that under wraps, and promptly ushers Jeanette into Broadway Serenade and Nelson into Let Freedom Ring and Balalaika. And what else happens? Oh, yeah, drunk and majorly fucked up Nelson elopes with Ann Franklin. And Jeanette tries to kill herself at the end of production on Broadway Serenade, to which she always referred as being her least favorite movie she ever did. (As always, these episodes and subsequent documentation can be explored in more detail by reading Sweethearts by Sharon Rich.)

It just annoys me that too many of Jeanette’s Metro pictures have her being a one trick pony—even if it’s one HELL of a trick. She was a good actress, a splendid comedienne, but also capable of beautiful depth of feeling, especially as she aged. Her performance in The Sun Comes Up is absolutely gorgeous. Helen Winter has a little bit more of a meaty script than Louise Morgan does in terms of internal character development, but is just as short on the leading man front. Lloyd Nolan was a great guy and a personal friend of Jeanette’s and Nelson’s, but he doesn’t exactly spark with her on the screen. Which probably suited everyone just fine, because again, Jeanette is not allowed to be sexy, and CERTAINLY not when she’s playing a mom. I mean, it makes you long for her to have played a mom like Maureen O’Hara’s character Maggie in The Parent Trap…THAT is a transformation. She’s a great mom, but the reunion scene between Maggie and Mitch is swoon-worthy. Very romantic and very, very sexy. I didn’t say it needed to be dirty. It doesn’t. That isn’t. But it’s real.

Jeanette was on her way out after I Married an Angel. She did Cairo to finish out her contract (I effing love that movie) and wouldn’t be seen again at Metro until Three Daring Daughters. There was great “Welcome Home” fanfare about her return to her old stomping grounds after years of absence, but it seems that once she was there, they weren’t really sure what to do next. She was still exquisite, still had the best soprano voice in the movies, and wasn’t really old enough (well, okay, she was 43, so according to what she liked to tell people, that would make her 39…and she looked late thirties) to be shoved around the bend into Mom-dom. Nelson strongly objected to her playing Mom roles, perhaps because he knew that once she did that, she wouldn’t be able to go back to playing a real romantic lead—which he knew damn well, publicly and privately, she should have still been doing. She rallied for Nelson to be cast in TDD and wrote Hedda Hopper that it would have been a “hot” box office reunion….and how right she was. That movie with Nelson would have been ENTIRELY different. And Metro would have had to admit that she was sexy. That he was sexy. That they were sexy together. This was no mannered, powdered wig period piece…this was a modern movie. If Louise Morgan had met Nelson Eddy on that ship instead of Jose Iturbi….I mean, can you imagine? Sexy, sexy. Perhaps that’s exactly why it didn’t happen. The studio wasn’t ready to make a grown up movie about grown up people. The idea that you can raise your kids and still feel the tingles for the right man who reminds you that you’re female……yeah, apparently that wasn’t a thing at Metro. Pity. It would have been great. Look at this candid of TDD-era Jeanette (with Iturbi) WITHOUT the wigs that made her matronly in the movie:

withIturbi

She doesn’t look old enough to be the mother of a high school graduate. She just doesn’t. Don’t effing tell me all that was left to her were Mom roles. Nelson, pal, you were EXACTLY right.

TDDprettyeyes

A screen capture from TDD. Look how gorgeous. Staaaaaaahp it.

Perhaps the best way to end this much-longer-than-anticipated post is with this anecdote:

Sometime in the 1940s, Nelson Eddy had occasion to see Monte Carlo, one of Jeanette’s Lingerie Queen Pre-Code films. (You know, the one where she runs around in her underwear and sings Beyond the Blue Horizon on a train. That song became one of her signature numbers.) Upon seeing it, his comment was:

“That’s the Jeanette I know.”

The defense rests.

 

I’ll See You Again, Part 2 (EXCLUSIVE FOOTAGE)

Gee, I’ll be glad when I can stop talking about everybody dying for a while. This is about as depressing as finding yourself on a honeymoon with Gene Raymond.

So, yeah, Jeanette died (I was just so very diplomatic with my word choice right there. I would like a prize.) at 4:32pm, January 14, 1965. Her death certificate:

deathcert

Note all the varied heart conditions listed. Also note the incorrect birthdate of 1907. She was born in 1903, but shaved 4 years off somewhere and that misinformation is on her crypt, too. She was flown back to California on January 15th. Her funeral was January 18th.

The press, of course, lost no time in finding Nelson. “The networks were there and I was crying,” was how he explained it later. The fact is, he stayed up talking to the press until 5:00 in the morning. The reporters actually stayed with him, the consensus of opinion being that he needed to talk and had nobody else to talk to.

Here is one very well-known example of Nelson talking to an interviewer within hours of hearing of Jeanette’s death.

She was stunning and startlingly beautiful. I mean, she would take your breath away. I remember the first time I actually met her, I was tongue tied and I didn’t quite know how to act.

…Okay, WHO TALKS LIKE THAT ABOUT SOMEONE IN WHOM THEY HAVE NO ROMANTIC INTEREST.

Nobody.

I mean really, even at her death–or maybe especially at her death–Nelson’s word choices are revealing. And gorgeous. Is it any wonder she was crazy about him? Who wouldn’t want to be described thus?

Even more importantly, the interview was ended because Nelson had broken down in tears.

The next day, January 15th, Nelson granted an interview to ABC News. Angela and I were able to locate this clip within the ABC archives, paid to have it digitized and we are excited to present it to you, here. This interview has not been seen by ANYONE since it originally aired. It is for educational purposes only and may not be reproduced anywhere except where expressly authorized by Angela or myself. Listen to the difference here, hours of telling the same stories later. He has pulled himself together somewhat, and started being more careful.

I just…… yeah.

This man is hurting.

The lines in his face are 3 feet deep, you can tell he hasn’t slept and his grief is palpable. He is speaking very slowly and chosing his words carefully, especially at the beginning, before he really gets his footing in the conversation. His voice getting all soft when he says “…big movies and a really big star,” just breaks my heart.

He points out that he met her at a party, rather than at the studio, and it was “under personal circumstances” rather than on a film. Booyah. Even though in reality, he’s actually not accurate about the time frame of the party where they met–they met before she made Merry Widow.

And he points out that, “She did most of the acting, believe me.” See? He knows he wasn’t a great actor so you can all just shut your mouths about it. What’s more, HE WASN’T ACTING when he was with Jeanette. Aside from the singing, he really stinks 98% of the time in his movies without her. I’ve said this for years. Either the man was a great actor or he wasn’t. The Saints love to slam him for his lack of acting chops on one hand and then say that his intense chemistry with Jeanette is “just acting” on the other. They like it when they can have things both ways, see. No. Please go watch the hand porn and finger pulling in Girl of the Golden West and the neck-blowing in Sweethearts and on and on and please, please tell me more about how he’s just acting, losers.

I love his face when he recalls them “always having our digs at each other.”

“We’d fight like cats and dogs sometimes, just to make people wonder.” …… Mr. Eddy, darling, we don’t wonder.

“And we had to cut it out because people started to believe it.” Well, yes, there’s a problem. Some people still do believe it.

“We never changed in our attitudes at all.” ❤ ❤ ❤

feud

“We found ourselves…….elsewhere.” (post MGM) Yeah, he’s a little bitter about Metro still. You detect that in several places in this interview.

“I think it was wonderful of her to want to hold her head high.” — in regards to not slipping down into junky movies, but really also for her attitude about not lampooning their work in nightclubs, as he was more or less reduced to doing. He mentions taking out the skit he and Gale were doing where they “kidded” Rose Marie. It’s not funny, it’s cheap, he wasn’t a huge fan of doing that crap anyway but it sold tickets and let him keep working. Jeanette, in that sense, had more professional integrity (and worse health, but let’s pretend her health wasn’t a problem–she still wouldn’t have torn down everything she worked so hard to build up. She was proud of her movies.) and you get the feeling watching Nelson talk about how the “kidding” wasn’t funny right now that he regrets having done it in the first place. He is so damn supportive of her, all the way through this. Lots and lots of we this and we that. I like getting the sense that he is on her side, in her corner, that he knows why she did things that she did and he is sticking up for her. Even later, as he recalls the “doghouse” incident–which he mistakenly attributes to Sweethearts; in fact, it happened during Naughty Marietta, as a photo of the event can attest—and that’s a very, very well known story so you can see how shaken up, messed up and tired the man is. Nelson is usually very on point with the details. That mistake is interesting, in and of itself. Anyway, even as he recalls that incident, his telling of the anecdote comes from the perspective of someone who is on her side, even ending with the comment, “I mean, who doesn’t want to look at the rushes?” His delight with her antics and cleverness, even in this sad sort of retrospect, is also apparent. He’s proud of his girl.

And my favorite thing—him pointing out that she was smart. He starts out referring to her in present tense and corrects himself, which is sad, but I love that comment. J-Mac, he didn’t just want you for your hot bod. He likes your brain. 😉

doghouse

He starts to talk about how they often talked on the phone, but is careful to go back and amend his words with my wife and I and she and Gene. Yep. ‘Kay. I’m sure Ann and Jeanette had SO MANY TOPICS on which to chatter away their idle time. Again, he’s more careful in this interview than in the first one. By the way, he mentions that he and Gale are going to rehearse the substitute material that afternoon. In reality, he got to rehearsal, sat in a chair and cried, unable to rehearse either of the replacement choices, and said as much to his audience that night.

(Paraphrased from Sweethearts, new edition, pages 516-517) Linda Knight (club member) was in the audience for the entirety of Nelson’s Anaheim run, which opened that day, January 15th. Nelson had, for a long time during his nightclub years, been in the habit of singing a special song for Jeanette at some point in the evening when Gale was offstage changing her costume–not always something the audience knew, but something that meant something to him and to her. The lights would be really low and Nelson would be illuminated with a pin spot on his face as he sang. Linda notes that this night, he was sweating profusely, was physically exhausted and emotionally drained. He sang I Married an Angel and Rose Marie seemingly okay, but choked up during the poignant little song from Bitter Sweet called If You Could Only Come With Me. Then, this night in Anaheim (as well as the closing performance, the only two nights he sang this song), the lights dimmed and Nelson’s special song was one which had been deeply significant to both him and Jeanette, and sung by both of them, for many years:

There’s a little brown road windin’ over the hill
To a little white cot by the sea
There’s a little green gate at whose trellis I wait
While two eyes o’ blue come smilin’ through at me

There’s a gray lock or two in the brown of the hair
There’s some silver in mine too, I see
But in all the long years when the clouds brought their tears
Those two eyes o’ blue kept smilin’ through at me

And if ever I’m left in this world all alone
I shall wait for my call patiently
For if Heaven be kind, I shall wait there to find
Those two eyes o’ blue come smilin’ through at me

Pic Spam and Non-Apologies

Hi, friends. Last blog post was super heavy, and I’m afraid, in the coming weeks, that I’m going to have to cover some more heavy topics, as we are just now starting to reap the benefits of some of our requested research materials. I saw some things this evening that were both incredible and sad, and Angela and I will be working together to share them with you all soon. The fact is, when you set out to study someone’s private life—it no longer is relevant whether or not things are “your business” — certainly, biography is a form of writing that has existed for many hundreds of years. You find out a great many things that aren’t your business. Yet I don’t see the field at large vanishing anytime soon. When a person has been dead for half a century, you can’t just call them and interview them. You have to fact-find, and dig, and research, talk to people who knew them, befriend archivists at the Library of Congress, etc etc—and try to piece together their story. What you cannot do is pretend parts of their life didn’t happen, or ignore things because they aren’t to your taste or they make you personally unhappy. This isn’t, in fact, about you. So while I’m bummed just like you guys about a future that looks a little grey with some sad posts, I won’t apologize for it. I feel strongly that these things need to be heard and read and said and observed and understood, if we are ever to gain a true sense of these tremendously complex beings we’ve decided to love. I do, however, have some ideas in mind for ways to lighten the mood, so stick with me. In the meantime, here are some of my favorite pictures of the Beauty and the Baritone. ❤

Image

Costume Designer Adrian is there and nobody gives a damn. 

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Nearly ten years into this thing and he still makes her self-conscious. 

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Y so touchy, Nels? Y so happy, Jeanette?

Image

I just love this picture. Always have. They look so easy and relaxed and happy together.

Image

With Woody, the man who was probably their single greatest friend. Look at the way she’s openly gazing at Nelson. Yeah. 

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And speaking of gazing, check out homeboy.

 

Sigh. And this is why we do what we do.