1962 Color Footage

Hi all!

Here’s a lovely thing that we uncovered in the holdings of The JAM Project! 8mm film of Jeanette (and the members of the JMIFC) at the 1962 ClanClave — which was also the club’s 25th Anniversary.

Most of you reading this will know the details of that weekend: Jeanette was directly involved in planning it, she gave a dinner for the group at The Luau restaurant (my friend Mary Lynn now has the check that paid for that meal…wild), she arranged for the group to tour MGM, have lunch in the commissary, etc. She invited everyone to Twin Gables, she posed for endless pictures… she was in general, generous, warm, delightful and perfect.

We’ve had this footage digitized for several months, but did not ‘break’ it before now because we wanted to show it as a surprise at the Mac/Eddy Club meeting on June 25th in LA. One of our members, Sandy Laderas, was a speaker at the meeting, sharing photos and personal reminiscences of the weekend and of meeting Jeanette and how wonderful she was, so she and I collaborated and The JAM Project provided supplemental material for her presentation. Mary Lynn brought the check and I put together a small talk that consisted of reading Jeanette’s letters – both to the club and to club president Clara, privately – planning the weekend and presenting this footage — in which you can see the then-eighteen year old Sandy in several shots, which was so cool. Why would we celebrate a JMIFC event at the Mac/Eddy Club’s meeting? Because of Jeanette — because that weekend was so indicative of her public self, of her kindness and generosity to the people who had loved her for years. It was just nice.

It meant a lot to Jeanette to give this weekend to her club. Her excitement in planning it was best voiced when she wrote Clara on May 17, 1962, saying in part, “I, too, am beginning to get quite a glow of anticipation. Just think how long it has been since I have met and seen many of the members!”

These were the young people who dogged her footsteps at the stage doors and train stations of the 40s. She was fond of them — she always made time for them. To enumerate Jeanette’s darling, wonderful interactions with her fans is to write an entire volume on the subject. They were a constant, unfailing source of love for her, to the extent that she kept up every kind of charade to allow them to maintain their illusions. It wasn’t deceit, it was selflessness.

Jeanette was not a well woman in 1962 — and she hadn’t been for several years. She would not get better. After ’62, you can count her “public appearances” on a few fingers. Indeed, she left the group while they were touring her home so that she could go to the doctor — and though she downplayed it, and seemingly acted like it was a matter of routine, it’s pretty freakin’ weird that she’d have ‘scheduled’ something like that during this weekend, especially on a day when the group was in her home. One wonders what was really going on — and what this weekend cost her, in terms of health. Sandy Laderas speaks of Jeanette as not looking or acting ill, and, indeed, in the footage, other than Jeanette being extremely thin (her arms in the Luau footage especially give this away), she appears bubbly, charming and charismatic — exactly the way she’s ‘supposed’ to be; exactly the way fans would remember her from previous interactions. I noted that when she leaves the group at Twin Gables, she glides right up the stairs with effortless ease. She was on. She was a professional. She was a star. She was prideful. She was a classy woman, and a good one. She was not going to burden the group with her struggles. She was never going to let these people see her fall. It is absolutely consistent with everything Jeanette is that she be this way, and my inclination is to believe that if that doctor’s appointment could have been avoided, it would have been. So… something else was brewing. For me, this is an excuse to love her more — but knowing more all the time about the hell she kept to herself is heartbreaking.

To bear out my above point, on September 11, 1962, Jeanette wrote Clara, in a letter concerning other club business and general news, “I do feel better, physically, and while the weight hasn’t started to accumulate, I must be patient and know that it will come as my own energy returns to normal. The above is for your own personal edification. But I wonder if, in your letter in the magazine to the members, you could indicate that you have heard from me, and that I am feeling so well again that you thought they would all want to know. For your own edification again – you see, Clara, I have had quite a few personal letters from some of the members saying they are sorry I have not been feeling well, and I feel that these thoughts are not healthy. Instead if they send thoughts to me and for me of good health and energy, etc., it has a more affirmative reaction. I am a firm believer in the power of prayer and good wishes and happiness, as against commiseration, and pity, and all of the negative ideas that are floating around us.”

She closes with, “Thank you for your understanding and patience.”

That ought to tell you a whole, whole lot. And comparing her letters to Clara versus things like her 1963 desk diary and various medical records we now have — Clara knew more than the average bear, perhaps, as in the above excerpt, but Clara was still firmly on a need-to-know basis.

I love that picture.

Here’s the footage. Enjoy this extraordinary human being, giving her very best to people who love her.

 

Thanks once more to all who make this preservation and digitization effort possible. ❤

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The Czarina

So I found this score in the JAM Project loot, it’s 23 pages long and, obviously, it’s what we know as “Czaritza” from Maytime. As with most of Jeanette’s personal music, it’s stamped with her blue name stamp, but unlike other pieces we have, this one doesn’t have any of her “work” on the inside. No writing, no breath marks, no evidence of being worked over with Grace, so I’m assuming this was a backup copy. Nevertheless, a cool find.

In reading the score, I have learned more about the Czaritza opera story itself (particularly apt in some of the art-imitating-life stuff that seemed to be a running theme with Maytime), which I think you will find interesting:
The Czarina is newly widowed. The Czar was murdered, and she’s being given a hard time because she isn’t sorry that he is dead. He was an evil, cruel man, a terrible ruler and she didn’t love him. This is part of the beginning, sung by her: “No shadow in my heart enshrouds the lordly but unloved departed one, God forgive me! Dead! May the thief who stole his life ever live! Oh, wicked wife, have you no sorrow? How black of soul you are. Your love betrays your Czar!”
So they caught the guy who killed the Czar and they bring him on in. Turns out it’s Petroff, with whom our sinful Czarina has been having a big fat steamy love affair (Welp. Hot Petroffs are hot, leave her alone.). She pleads with him to lie and say he didn’t do it. He argues that he did it to set Russia free from his tyranny…and also a little bit for Mr. Czar’s hot wife. He’s at peace about the whole thing “I lose but a life, and a nation is free”, the worst part is leaving Hotpants Czarina. She wishes she was going to be the one to die. She then tells everybody to get out, she wants a word with him. The Captain protests, “Your Majesty!”
Queenie gets real tall and corrects him: “Your Czar!” (That’s one of my favorite moments in the whole thing, not that anyone asked.)
So the minions beat it and we get to the duet and they sing powerful, powerful stuff:
How memory clings, my beloved, to dreams of yore
O, pitiless fate that our meeting means parting at death’s very door
There is no parting!
There is no ending!
Your heart is blended with mine
What fear you, I shall be near you, ever attending
Oh, beloved, my heart will not fail
There is no lasting farewell
Ever these vows shall prevail
Whether in Heaven or Hell
I love you
*
Heart! Beat with joy, for ecstasy is yours
Love alone endures
Love alone is yours, and it’s mine
Love is mine, O love is mine forever
O Soul! Soul! Sing a new refrain!
Dear one, oh! Hold me close
Beloved, Beloved!
Two wildly beating hearts are one
And now death [Petroff sings ‘Give me death’]
Do what you will!
Our love will live beyond the deepest grave
We face you bravely
O Father of us all, His/My time has come, dear God!
Petroff: God be with you, Heaven keep my dearest one from harm and care
Czarina: Heaven rest the soul of my beloved one, Lord, hear the pray’r of my heart
Lord, hear my pray’r
Petroff: Dear one, I go to die, God be with you
Both: Love, goodbye
Anyone else around here completely cooked? Holy mackerel. Seems legit that he’d actually shed tears while singing this with his complicated lady love who is resolutely going to marry somebody else because she’s convinced that there are too many problems with the two of them, no matter how crazy they are about each other. The situation was just so hopeless. I mean, I get why she didn’t marry him then. I really do. I wouldn’t have married him either, in the thirties. But gosh, it’s just all so heartbreaking. And by the time he’d become marriage material, it was too late and too hopelessly muddled for all concerned and yeah, there were great moments, but the whole thing ended in devastation for everyone.
*screenshot of Nelson’s tear obtained by Kitty.
The infinite rightness of those two gorgeous beings in each other’s arms is just kiiiiiinda staggering. Look at ’em.
Oh! And here’s a bonus!Mac. Being really, really extra cute on the set. This photo is from her personal collection and was tucked into one of her embossed still boxes. ❤
She’s just sittin’ there on the floor in her Czarina suit hopin’ something happens soon.

Nelson Wants Them All to Know

So, all of y’all are familiar with the moment in I Married an Angel where they’re on the balcony, and they have the sort of fragmented bits of that gorgeous song, I’ll Tell the Man in the Street (If you want to hear a really beautiful version, Kristin Chenoweth sings it, look it up on youtube. I wish that song had been taken more seriously in this movie, it’s exquisite.) worked in to the mess with the locals hearing about how Willie married an angel, right?

It also probably has not escaped your notice that when Nelson sings I want them all to know / I love my angel so he seems to make eye contact with someone off camera to his left (our right) on the words “them all” and makes a very emphatic “so there” kind of face, returning his eyes to hers to sing about how he loves his angel so. On the next line, Jeanette is singing I’ll tell the world I’m your bride/I’ll shout it far and wide and she looks back over her left shoulder at the same person and gives a sort of “what are we going to do with him?” type shrug.

Which is freaking adorable. Not at all in character, either. It has nothing at all to do with Willie and his Angel.

I took a video of the lines in question with my phone, just for reference here:

So I have always assumed (maybe others have as well) that they were looking at Woody, their pal, their confidant, and that they were having one of those candid-type moments that seem to permeate their Van Dyke movies, especially this one. Jeanette’s unscripted laugh is the easiest example, but as I have her Angel script in my possession, I can prove several other slip-ups as well. (Nelson forgets his line in the scene with the secretary at the beginning, when he says, “Take a letter–” he flounders all around for the beginning of his line and then remembers it, saying, “Oh yes! Take a letter!” and Woody left it in the movie. There are other little things like that, nothing humongous, but fun for the nerd in all of us.)

Welp, now I can prove it. That it was Woody they were looking at, I mean. In searching for something else this morning, I came across this:

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Boom.

I realize this isn’t earth-shattering news, but it made my little heart so happy when I saw that photo and put these things together for real, instead of just thinking that’s the way it was. They are precious.

A little glance at MacEddy being MacEddy, adorably and candidly, with their best pal.

Waffles a la Jeanette!

A fun post, this Friday:

Jeanette is widely considered to not have been that great of a cook. Both men in her life have acknowledged that she would leave the kitchen in a huge mess after she was finished, and she said it would take her most of the day to prepare a “not too difficult” meal, but she always said she had a great eye for produce and choice cuts of meat.

………Choice cuts of meat:

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Sorry, sorry, I’ll behave.

ANYWAY, okay, so there were a few dishes that were “specialties” of Jeanette’s: her baked beans, best when served with her hot Boston brown bread is sort of universally considered the best thing in her repertoire. Also of note, her homemade Philadelphia style peach ice cream. I’ve made all of the above and they’re all fabulous and I don’t even LIKE baked beans.

A MacDonald specialty that I had not tried until today, however, is her waffles. She used to make them on Sundays occasionally and have people over. Director Ernst Lubitsch used to eat FOUR (I was full after one).

So this morning, I figured it was time to try the waffles. Here is her recipe, in her own handwriting. ❤

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PLEASE NOTE: that is a 1 for number of teaspoons of salt!!! The brown ring on the old paper obscures it and her quotation marks then become misleading. Do not put 4 teaspoons of salt in the batter!

This recipe makes batter for about 4 waffles, depending on the size of your waffle iron, I guess.

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Shout-out to Hana, one of my riding students who brings me fresh eggs from her chickens all the time!!

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Jeanette’s all like, “Add milk to make a thin batter.” That’s too vague for me, but it worked. Apparently she has a lot of faith in whoever is reading this recipe not to be Katie Gardner in the kitchen. Guys, Angela was cooking in my kitchen in September and she brought into my life the knowledge that my oven can broil things. It was big news to me.

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LOOKIT!!!!!!!!! It could have been darker but that was the first one and my angina was real.

My brother and sister-in-law were subjected to MacWaffles and they survived, and what’s more, they liked it.

So, another A+ for the Mac. Make the waffles.

Oh! And my friend Mary Lynn owns Jeanette’s original cookbook (in which she cut up old address labels and used them as tape, bless her), and it has been reproduced gorgeously into a spiral-bound volume that can be purchased at this link. Well worth it!!

 

“The Knight on the White Charger”

…is one of the ways that Sunny Griffin described what Nelson was to the woman who adored him. I know he said it. I’ve seen the footage. And really, what a perfect way to describe what goes on between their eyes.

Angela recently acquired this stunning, crystal clear photograph and was kind enough to allow me to post it here. Please don’t attempt to profit from her generosity.

This is one of my favorite shots of them, because of everything it stands for. These people are not young, especially if you consider how many years they had left, at this point. It’s not Naughty Marietta time anymore. They’ve sung all their songs together. They’ve been through heaven and hell and decades and breakups and eight films and personal triumphs and poor decisions and regrets and secrecy and bitterness and stalled career moves and laughter and tears and practical jokes and fake feuds and health struggles. They’ve sung for presidents (FDR for him, Ike for her), they’ve officiated the funeral of their best friend. They’ve buried their child. They’ve recorded an album of Favorites that went Gold. They’ve married the wrong people. They’ve confided in some people and kept their silence among others. They’ve kept up appearances. They’ve lied to protect themselves and their spouses and their careers. They’ve let their eyes and their emotions give them away. They’ve been good, honorable, kind, trustworthy, decent human beings. They’ve been late-blooming emotional adolescents, growing up and realizing too late what they were throwing away. They’ve lied to allow their fans to keep their illusions, unrealistic as they may be, because when the chips are down, they can’t bear to disappoint and disillusion their faithful. They’ve had to live with and in some cases be tortured by their choices.  They’ve served their country with honor. They’ve given millions of people hours of happiness, while never fully being able to realize that happiness for themselves, in their own lives. They’ve loved each other with a power mere mortals can’t begin to comprehend and they’ve lost each other but every time they’ve found their way back again. They’ve neglected to put enough faith in the sheer scope of what they had together. They’ve doubted each other when they should have trusted. They’ve said no when they should have said yes. They’ve had to come, at long last, to the realization that maybe it won’t ever work out for them.

Everything has changed.

Nothing has changed.

And still they hold each other; Jeanette cradled in Nelson’s arms, one around her shoulders and one at her waist.

And still they have that special, special something between their eyes.

This is not the best picture ever taken of Jeanette. I am 99% sure that she’s wearing a wig in this picture, the hairline at the back of her neck looks that way. She did do that, in her 1963 desk diary she has notes of appointments with wig fitters…and she had not performed in several years.  I think Jeanette is pretty much perfect, always; the only reason I bring up the wig is to point out how much Nelson’s eyes don’t appear to see it. In this picture, we see Jeanette looking up at her white knight with a delicacy and an adoration that I have simply never seen beamed at Gene Raymond.

The look on Nelson’s face is utter magic. He’s young and, yes, sexy here in a way we never see in this part of his life with the other two women. Ann makes him look like, to paraphrase Angela, a crabby old man about to yell at someone for walking on his grass. (LOL!) Gale makes a rather odd pairing with him. Onstage they worked well. Up closer, well, they look sort of odd together, the age difference very apparent. With Jeanette, we see tender Nelson. Adoring Nelson. Gentle, wicked, artistic, sensitive Nelson, holding his muse. The look on his face is full of knowledge and history.

OlderMacEddy

You get the sense that their bodies are older but that is not what they see when they look at each other.

What I see is two people who had every curve ball known to man thrown at them, but who ultimately stood the test of time and found their way back to each other over and over and over and over again.

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Thank you for sharing the picture, Angela.

Fictional Dalliances…

Hi readers!

I wondered if it was a good idea to post this here, as this is a research/biography blog, but then I decided that it’s also my blog, and as such, I get to be the boss, so here goes.

Some of you know this (because you know me), but others may not: in addition to working closely with a good team and making trips and doing research uncovering new biographical details and adding context or evidence to things we already knew about Jeanette and Nelson, I also write fiction.

Before everyone steps into their judgey pants, I find that in some weird way, it makes me feel better, to give these two beautiful people a happier what-might-have-been. When you spend a lot of time examining the many times heartbreaking circumstances of their lives, it’s easy to get mired down in the sadness and frustration and I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve said or heard people say how we wish we could go back and somehow make things better for them……..and this is my consolation prize, in that way. We can’t fix or change what happened, but this is rather satisfying in its own fashion. I figured that at least some of you may identify or agree with that feeling, and as such, you guys might be the best people to share this with!

My first Mac/Eddy FICTION novel, Smilin’ Through, is now available in both paperback and Kindle versions. I released it one year ago as an eBook, have since changed to a different publisher and decided to re-format and re-issue it, with a couple of minor (very minor, if you’ve read it already there’s no need to re-download it) tweaks. I had a lot of people ask for it to be available in paperback, so I’ve done that.

The book starts just as Jeanette has finished making Cairo, and for our purposes, we assume that the events up to that point happened exactly as they actually did (and I should add here that source material from Sweethearts was used with permission). She and Nelson are at a crossroads, career-wise, and they decide to change quite a few things in their lives. It’s a sexy book, not well-suited for young audiences, but neither is it pure “romance novel” — there are good love scenes (I hope they’re good, anyway!), but I worked awfully hard to have there be a well-researched, interesting, involved, plausible plot, too.

If you’re interested, the paperback is here. If you’re a Kindle reader, you can download it here.

And if you’ve already read Smilin’ Through, thank you very much, and I have further news for you: I am almost finished with the sequel! The Message of the Violet is the second book in what appears to be becoming a series, and it will be out before Valentine’s Day! I will report back when it gets released. 🙂

And one thing more, I have a pretty vast selection of short stories available, for more information about those, comment on this post with your email address and I will be in touch!

Below: the covers for both books (The Message of the Violet is lacking the blurb on the back, I haven’t written it yet!) and I’d like to thank my talented friend Don for his collaboration on both of them. They are both sourced from old pieces of sheet music for the two songs that I’ve used as titles and I couldn’t be more pleased with them.

And yes, Kathleen O’Hara is a pen name, but it’s also my real first and middle names. Katie is short for Kathleen. And I thought it was perfectly splendid that Jeanette plays Kathleen O’Hara in the movie Smilin’ Through!

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So when I’m not blogging, that’s usually where I am…….writing.

Happy Reading!

Noses!

Okay, so this is not a never-before-seen photo or anything, but it IS an original, and better yet, it was JEANETTE’S original. It is from the estate auction and it arrived this morning, bearing the exact same “Jeanette” smell that is woven through the fibers of her scripts, book, gloves and scarf that now live with me. The dramatic/romantic part of my brain can’t help but love these little artifacts and desperately wish they could talk. What would they tell us? Who have those gloves held/shaken hands with? What has the I Married an Angel script seen behind dressing room walls? Laughter, tears, passion? The possibilities are endless.

I’ve bought a good number of photos from this auction and this is my first experience with one that has that very specific, very pretty fragrance. So, my mind is happily wondering…why is this one different? Did she like it, especially? Did she display it somewhere that the others weren’t? Did it, perhaps, line a drawer at her dressing table? Who knows. We’ll never know, of course, but it makes for fun thinking and I’m so, so glad this beautiful thing has found its way to me. ❤

Wall space is starting to really be hard to come by in my house, but I’m confident that this will find a spot to grace! I have scanned it at high resolution and unwatermarked here for anyone’s downloading and printing pleasure (click on it for the super-sized view), but please don’t alter or try to sell it. Thanks, and enjoy the Beauty and the Baritone in a sweet, sweet pose from Bitter Sweet!

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