Nelson on the Ed Sullivan Show – 18 days after “This is Your Life”

What a difference in Nelson Eddy, so visible to see! In this short clip above of his appearance on November 30, 1952, we see a man who, as his mother used to comment when Jeanette was in his personal life, was “beaming like a headlight.” This is the change in his whole demeanor, voice and confidence when things were good between them.

Why is he so serene here? Let’s look quickly at the timeline. This show aired live exactly 18 days after Nelson had made a surprise last-minute appearance on Jeanette’s “This is Your Life” episode. Her reaction at seeing him was obvious to everyone, and her tears were probably even more obvious to him as it was to those viewing the episode.

But just before “This is Your Life,” this happened…

October 28, 1952. Nelson’s proposed TV pilot airs, “Nelson Eddy’s Backyard.” He has that weary sadness about him, being enthusiastic as he can be, but he doesn’t look happy. Watch it at the link below and notice Nelson’s own painting of Lake Tahoe on the wall behind him as he looks at the camera and sings “Wish You Were Here.” As we know, Lake Tahoe was so vital in his life with Jeanette; it’s where he proposed marriage to her before their relationship went south for a time.

November 12, 1952. Nelson is a surprise guest on Jeanette’s “This is Your Life” episode. For anyone under the impression that Nelson’s appearance was planned in advance, you can read the original script for this episode, reproduced in our Journal #72, that shows that Nelson was NOT planned to be part of this show. It was a last minute decision on his part.

As we have noted elsewhere in great detail, Jeanette struggles to keep her composure every time Nelson’s name is mentioned and she finally cries when he appears at the show’s end. They had been personally estranged and their separate personal lives stressful during this breakup. The complete show from Jeanette’s own collection, transferred from 16mm film is below. If you haven’t watched it, it’s necessary to view and see the various dynamics and different body language with both her husband and with Nelson. It tells you more about their personal lives than any written words could.

And next, on November 30, the video at the top of this page. Per Nelson’s interview comments, it was after their personal reunion in late 1952 that they sat down and tried to plan a professional (and personal) future together, ie, singing together in nightclubs. Nelson as we know went on to do this but it was too strenuous for Jeanette with her heart condition. Except for a short solo run, she bowed out of nightclubs. Whereas Nelson, of course, made a new career for himself, for literally the rest of his life.

In their films and now in their shows that have been surfacing in recent years, we see how they wore their hearts on their sleeves. It’s all there to see!