MacEddy at the Melchiors’….Bottoms up!

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:

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. 🙂

It was Bound to Happen…

I finally bit the bullet and did it. A MacEddy blog. Lord knows that these two fruitbats (gentle teasing of our two subjects is A-OK, kids, relax) take up a truly ridiculous amount of my time and space in my head. No day is complete without some sort of MacEddy discussion with someone on some level. So, really, it’s not all that surprising that I’d be here, doing this. The thing is, if you’re an old movie person like I have been since before I can remember, sooner or later you’re doing to discover MacDonald and Eddy, MGM’s Singing Sweethearts of the 1930s and early 40s. Eight glorious, romantic musicals (lots of operettas), lots of frilly costumes with huge skirts for Jeanette and uniforms and marching songs for Nelson. Something or someone always tries to keep them apart but you know before you even begin that they belong together and will end up thus, on some level (shut up, Maytime. Nobody asked you, Bitter Sweet.). Now, either that’s your thing or it isn’t. It’s totally my thing. I have a penchant for the “teams” — Astaire and Rogers, Tracy and Hepburn, Powell and Loy, Bogart and Bacall, Mickey (but my God he’s annoying, RIP) and Judy….you get it. Bonus points if said team happens to be, erm, a team in real life. That is the stuff that makes my little heart go pitter-pat.

Nelson and Jeanette were very much a team, for eight movies, and very much a “team” for over thirty years (there were a few bad years in the mix here and there, but overall, they sort of never got out of each other’s heads once they met) behind the scenes. True Life: They also each were married to other people: Jeanette to second-stringer Gene Raymond who was never quite as cool anywhere as he was when wearing Jeanette on his arm, and Nelson to silent film director Sidney Franklin’s ex, Ann, about whom nobody seems to have anything nice to say, including people who knew her.

The thing is, there are these “official” fan clubs for each star; the Jeanette MacDonald International Fan Club (JMIFC) and the Nelson Eddy Appreciation Society (NEAS), who are both very much by the book about the marriages of their subjects. Everything was hunky dunky (does anyone else love Christmas in Connecticut?) and here are some pictures just so everyone sees that everything is awesome. Jeanette and Nelson made movies together AND THAT’S IT. Crazy how both of these people had these long perfect marriages in such a scandal-ridden town, eh? I mean, it’s not impossible, but the odds are not in their favor. But I digress.  These groups have really not let up, even though these two people have been dead for half a century, and so there’s still a raging war going on between the people who insist that they had these perfect marriages and nothing between them (those are called “Saints” in MacEddy language)….and the rest of us (“Sinners”) who are totally on board with the fact that they dug each other, even though their lives were a couple of hot, complicated messes.

I guess I just want to say that while I make no secret and never have of which side of the fence I’m on here, I’m not going to try to force anyone to believe anything. I am hoping to write a collection of essay-style posts (supplemented with photographs and audio files) that just ask questions. I want to point out the curious, the interesting, the noteworthy. I’m not trying to play like I was right there in the dressing room with them, but there is certainly a mountain of evidence that would point in the direction that they did, in fact, love each other. I’m not naive enough to think I’ll get the multi-decade crusty old Saints to jump on the MacEddyinLove bandwagon (even though I would lay money that at least two of them are reading this! Hey, guys!)—and I fully acknowledge that we have our fair share of crazy over here in Sinner Land, too. I live it, kids. And there are days when I just am like, “Please stop talking.” But ultimately, you can’t control anything but you. What pisses me off beyond all recognition, though, is when I ask some of the aforementioned Saints LEGIT QUESTIONS (“Why did it take a court summons for perfect husband Gene Raymond to pay for Jeanette’s funeral?” “Why did Nelson Eddy move into the same (Comstock) apartment complex as Jeanette RIGHT AFTER SHE MOVED THERE?” Etc, etc) and I have yet to get a straight answer or even an “I don’t know” from any of them! The replies go from being horribly offended that I would even dare to make such vile insinuations with my questions to “I can’t bear to think about her/him being unhappy.” (So….are you saying you acknowledge that this is possible and it hurts your head to think about it? Or…? I mean, people are unhappy all the time. I’m unhappy that my DVD of The Cat and the Fiddle didn’t come in the mail today. Welcome to the real world, sweet cheeks. Sometimes we are unhappy. Buck up.) and finally, the ultimate cop-out of, “Their personal lives are none of our business.” AKA “I don’t have a good answer so I’m saying this.” I mean, okay, maybe it’s not our business but biography of historical figures happens when people know stuff that isn’t their business, because it’s intriguing and interesting.

So I imagine I’ll be posing a lot of “riddle me this” type questions. Hell, at least I’m getting them off my chest. And maybe somebody in the privacy of their home will read some of this sometime and think that maybe they haven’t got this 100% right. Or maybe people will find this blog who have not previously cared about this story and hop on board. It’s really a fascinating tangle. It really is. You find yourself loving these two people so fiercely that you’d sell organs to go back in time and crack their heads together and be like, “NO, THIS IS BAD. DON’T DO IT.” You find yourself perplexed and alternately elated when little pieces fall into place at unexpected times (say, after your biographer friend has already sent off the revised book to the publisher and then has to GET IT BACK to put the new info in. This has been a fun afternoon.) and sometimes you sit and feel like you’re right back where you started.

I dunno. Look at Jeanette’s face in this picture. She doesn’t look like she’s hearing a word of Woody (that’s W.S. Van Dyke, their favorite director and beloved pal) and Nelson’s conversation, but she sure is looking all piney at Nelson. Sigh. They are cute.