In honor of Easter, I’m going to take you all on a merry Easter Egg Hunt through the beautifully manicured lawns of Mr. and Mrs. Lauritz Melchiors’ 25th Anniversary Party. (Melchior was a cool dude, check him out here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lauritz_Melchior)
I might even photoshop some painted eggs onto the pictures.*
*I probably won’t do that.
So here’s the thing, folks. You people who still actually think that Jeanette and Nelson DISLIKED each other, please step to the left. I get that there are people who don’t think they were in love with each other, but at this point you basically are forced to admit they were AT LEAST good friends. Jeanette, in her own writings to her fan club for publication in The Golden Comet, their quarterly magazine thingy, writes about socializing with Nelson on numerous occasions. There are many pictures of them together at social functions–sometimes with their spouses, sometimes not. The dynamics in all of the pictures are always interesting. But given their propensity to socialize together and all the nice things they had to say about each other over the years, and how they both tell the same story about the “Mac/Eddy Feud” –it’s pretty clear that they liked each other just fine…in a socially acceptable, double-dating way of course. Mmmhmm. Yep. Certainly.
Another myth perpetuated by the JMIFC and still tossed about by the members who are still alive/active, is that Jeanette hated coffee, tea and alcoholic beverages of any description.
You’ve got to be kidding me.
In the cookbook Lookin’ In and Cookin’ In with the MacRaymonds at Twin Gables that was issued by the JMIFC in 1984 with the help of Gene Raymond, there are two mentions of her not liking coffee and barely tolerating tea (though she mentions coffee in several menus she gave for various parties and gives her recipe for coffee ice cream) and at least as many mentions of her not liking alcohol… In the same book, there are no fewer than eight pictures of her seated at a tea/coffee service or with a tea/coffee cup in her hand and at least one where she is having a cocktail. In addition, there are references to appropriate wines for her dishes! Outside of the book, there are dozens of pictures of her having coffee or tea on the set, but I’m not digging those all up unless I have to. The point is, this is a minor thing but totally in line with what the JMIFC does best; forge merrily ahead with the very PC, squeaky clean PR version of things and happily ignore what the pictures (and, indeed, the principle subjects!) say to the contrary.
Here, in her own handwriting, Jeanette neatly annihilates the notion that she didn’t like to drink:
“I don’t believe I told you, but last week after it was all over and all the hard work over, I went out and got a snout full — not too full but enough to warrant complete relaxation and how! Had about a quart of port wine and I do love port. My leading man was along and we had about a million laughs but that’s all — it would have been much more interesting had you been there for wine always makes me sentimental — …” (Excerpted from The Irving Stone Letters)
I mean… you guys ever drink port? I had two TINY glasses of it Christmas Eve and it knocked me on my ass. I’m the champion lightweight of all time, but even so….a quart? Good gracious, Jeanette. And wine “always” makes her sentimental. So, yeah. Not the first and only time she ever did that, folks.
And I’m SO not judging her for it! I don’t care at all, in fact, I’m all about her having a drink if she wants to have a drink—my problem is these people who act like she was some sort of teetotaling angelic virginal goddess. She was a human being, okay? I don’t believe she was a heavy drinker, or even a “regular” drinker–but I do think we have enough proof that she was a “social” drinker –and yeah, probably got drunk every now and again– and WHY IS THAT A PROBLEM? Please don’t project your own psychopathic morality onto her just because you think her ass doesn’t get really uncomfy sitting on top of that pedestal, is all I’m asking. (Guess what else, guys? She had sex before she was married, too. And she occasionally had to go potty like everybody else. I’ll wait while you peel yourselves up off the floor.)
Gratuitous picture of Jeanette drinking that has always made me laugh:
So anyway, what does all this have to do with the Melchior party? Plenty. From what I can tell, the evening was very “well lubricated” as everyone, most especially our darling redheaded one, is constantly seen with drink in hand. Who the heck can BLAME her, I think I might need a few drinks too if I had to stick it out at a party with the guy I loved…and his wife…and my husband. No matter how well they played it, that’s got to be awkward. I feel like the shot below was fairly early in the proceedings. (Ann looks the best she’s ever looked at this party and Jeanette still outclasses her by a country mile.) Nelson is pretty much screwed seven ways South of Sunday so he’s just decided to smile real big and Jeanette is by this time maybe on her second Tom Collins (she loved a good Tom Collins. I have been told this by someone who made them for her in the early 60s.) …so she’s starting to not give a rat’s behind if Ann is there or not. Party like it’s 1926, people. Notice that her highball glass is almost full here.
And that, to my knowledge, is the first and last glimpse of Ann we get at this party. My pal Angela suggested it was because the spell that made her pretty for 10 minutes wore off, but it has to be some other reason, I suppose. (In all seriousness, please, if you have other pictures from this occasion with ANY of the main parties in them, please send them to me! I’d love to see them! I have no problem with being incorrect!)
Moving on, we find, most peculiarly, that dinner has been served and indeed, has been eaten (because it’s brandy and cigars time, so dinner is a thing of the past), and there is no trace of Ann Eddy or Gene Raymond…but Tweedledee and Tweedledum over here managed to sit together.
Geez, Melchior, you have a lot of medals.
So, let’s talk about all these lines and arrows with which I helpfully ruined this hi-res scan. (Thanks for the scan, Maria!)
A. Homegirl has a brandy snifter. And it isn’t full. Also, that seems to be a bottle on the table in front of her snifter. BYOB at the Melchior house? Awesome. I hope Nelson wired her, “ANN COMING TONIGHT STOP UNAVOIDABLE STOP BRING THE GOOD STUFF STOP LOVEYOUMEANIT STOP”
B. That highball glass is halfway down—really can’t be the same one all this time later or the ice would have melted. So. Atta girl, J-Mac.
C. GOOD GOD LOOK AT ALL THE EMPTY GLASSES. Either this guy at the head of the table is really knocking them over or some of that collection is Jeanette’s.
Now, check out the fact that Jeanette is slightly angled in her chair towards Nelson. If you look at her reflection in the glass behind her, you can see the angle more clearly. Very good, very good. Many of us learned in some sort of high school math how to calculated the projected intersection of two lines, right? Well, check out the line from where her leg is and the line of his arm, going under the table. Now look at Nelson’s face. Bwahahaha. Get your hand off her leg, buddy. Or don’t. Please. Ever. And she’s being a giant hambone with that cigar but look at her face…..yeah, she was photographed mid-something, but she looks pretty amused.
Which leads us to the third photograph of the night and the magical appearance of Gene Raymond.
I think this looks like 2am when everyone has decided to be buddies and sing a rousing chorus of We Are the World.
And, ya know, look who doesn’t give a flying you-know-what anymore and has his arm around his girl.
Hint: Not Gene.
Look at Mrs. Melchior. She effing KNOWS and she’s just like, “I’ll drink to that, yo.”
Side note: Jeanette has switched from the highballs and the brandy to the champagne. Excellent.
In conclusion, Jeanette didn’t hate alcohol too too much, she liked to sit next to Nelson and play Lost My Spouse at fancy dinners and it’s all very grand. Just one night out of so many that they had absolutely NOTHING going on between them. 🙂