Updated December 10, 2012
We have been fortunate enough to have some excellent speakers at our club events over the years. Since 2011 we have enjoyed three outstanding programs researched and written by Madeline Bayless, and presented at our Los Angeles meetings by Linda Tolman. We have nicknamed them our “Master Classes” and you can watch them here. They are lengthy so put aside a chunk of time to enjoy them! Many thanks to Madeline and Linda for their hard work in putting these presentations together.
The first one, dated June 26, 2011, is 41 minutes long. It focuses on how and why Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald sang certain songs throughout their lives that had a personal meaning to them, in regards to their off-screen relationship. It features some rare music such as 1) Nelson’s 8th take singing “‘Neath the Southern Moon’ during the filming of Naughty Marietta, when he chuckles at Jeanette muffing her lines and 2) Nelson singing at FDR’s 1941 Inaugural Gala, when his “How Do I Love Thee” was privately dedicated to Jeanette (and Nelson sang it again at all his 28 concerts during his spring 1941 tour). From the transcript: “We sometimes forget or overlook that the most powerful influence in their lives, and that which bonded them forever, was their devotion to their music. Music was their language by which they communicated to each other, whether it was secular or sacred, song or aria.”
The second video, from June 24, 2012, is 1 hour, 28 minutes long. It showcases the events surrounding Jeanette being featured on a brand new Fall 1952 “reality TV” series, “This is Your Life.” By late 1952 when this show aired, Jeanette and Nelson were estranged, both personally and professionally. Jeanette’s reactions during the half-hour show were telling, first her nervousness that “he” might actually be there, her looking around trying to acting nonchalant, relaxing when someone else came onstage – not “him,” then sitting tensely once again in anticipation and finally crying when Nelson made his appearance and held her hand through the rest of the show. How the show came about and its poignant aftermath was written by Madeline Bayless. The talk was delivered by Linda Tolman. After the show Nelson’s appearance is shown again, silent, in slow motion and then with still photos. Anyone who believes these two didn’t love each other off-screen should study the footage and the expressions that flit across Jeanette’s face as she tries both to hide her girlish adoration of him, and to regain her composure.
The third program covers the funeral of Jeanette MacDonald and the behind-the-scenes details behind her death as well as Nelson Eddy’s participation in the funeral. When Jeanette MacDonald died on January 14, 1965, her death made front page headlines in newspapers worldwide. Thousands of loyal fans attended her funeral four days later at Forest Lawn Glendale. Despite her supposedly loving last words to her husband Gene Raymond, many fan were curious to note that her grief-stricken co-star Nelson Eddy sat privately with the family and in particular with Jeanette’s older sister and confidant Blossom Rock. (Note: in the funeral service and on Jeanette’s crypt her birthdate was incorrectly noted as 1907 rather than 1903.) Only a handful of people were aware of the personal touches Nelson Eddy made to the proceedings. This video is about 53 minutes long.