Alert! Watch live or set your DVRs! Turner Classic Movies is airing all the Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy team movies in chronological order starting at 6 am (Eastern Time) on Tuesday, April 17, 2018.
In recent weeks I’ve been chatting with folks on various Classic Hollywood groups and have come to realize that many people are not aware of the Jeanette-Nelson story or of the fascinating behind-the-scenes details of their 8 films together. It’s possible that no other screen team blurred their privates lives with their films as much as these two did. It surely was a case of reel life becoming real life…or vice versa! And an intriguing look at how Hollywood operated in the 1930s.
I will be live-blogging this entire marathon, detailing some of the following background information that adds to the enjoyment of these films:
What was happening behind the scenes in their private lives that affected each production in terms of editing, deleted scenes and even whether the movie was in color or not!
The story behind their most famous film, “Rose Marie” (1936) which was shot at Lake Tahoe when they were privately engaged and Nelson planned to elope with Jeanette in nearby Reno.
Bloopers and ad-libbing such as Nelson shoving a startled Jeanette too hard into a chair in “Naughty Marietta,” (1935); pregnant Jeanette falling on a staircase in ”Sweethearts” (1938); Jeanette cracking up and breaking out of character at Nelson’s antics in “I Married An Angel” (1942).
Why Nelson and Jeanette are both in tears in “Maytime” (1937) and why he predicted their lives would turn out like the plot of that film. Also, why he is visibly drunk in “The Girl of the Golden West (1938) and the main love duet is missing. In “Bitter Sweet” (1940) Nelson is thinner and looks weary in some scenes due to recovering from a breakdown. Additionally, why there are so few candids of them together from that movie as the studio had ordered them to squelch their renewed affair and stay away from each other off-camera.
Audio recordings and related photos, candids, screenshots and “what to watch for” guides.
Quotes and anecdotes relating to these 8 films… from or about the many co-workers or friends who granted me interviews and are quoted in my MacDonald-Eddy biography Sweethearts.
I will be happy to answer any questions I can about these films and will update this post later today with links of how to contact and read real-time updates.
The late, great TCM host Robert Osborne praised my book “Sweethearts” when it was first published, noting that it “offers considerable proof they may have been secret lovers for years.” I was also friends with Jeanette MacDonald’s actress sister Blossom Rock (grandmama in “The Addams Family”) who authorized me to write the biography because she felt her sister and Nelson Eddy were unfairly becoming forgotten when they were two of the hugest stars in the MGM galaxy…or in all of Hollywood!
For some reason “New Moon” (1940) is not included in this film marathon but can be streamed as a rental/purchase from iTunes and Vudu or purchased as a DVD from shop.tcm.com or Amazon’s website. I am posting the “New Moon” article now for those who wish to watch it in advance…or at a later date. In fact, I will keep these posts up for anyone wanting to refer to them in the future.
Note that I am not affiliated with TCM. I have lectured on this film series at the American Film Institute (AFI East Coast), at film festivals, writers’s events, in school classes and on two dedicated MacDonald-Eddy cruises.
“For Easter 1947, Nelson sent Jeanette a white satin prayer book of Psalms with passages marked for her to study and a custom-made hair clasp – a single purple violet on a green leaf with a large diamond center and a tiny diamond stem. The attached note read: ‘Darling, marriage is not always being together. It is this Life – Tenderness – Sympathy and Pity – through which we learn to accept this journey through the years – smiling through our tears. This is marriage. My Angel wife you will always be.'”
Excerpt from Sweethearts by Sharon Rich, c 1994, 2001, 2014. All rights reserved.
Effective January 1, 2018, our club disbanded the old membership and completely revamped our operating basis. Read on for details of this complete shake-up and rebirth for this digital age!
We ceased the $50/yearly (or $90 outside of the US) membership fee (or renewal fee) in which the person received two printed glossy magazines. Lifetime Memberships were similarly canceled and are no longer in effect. Again: ALL EXISTING MEMBERSHIPS WERE HEREBY ENDED AS OF DECEMBER 31, 2017. NO RENEWALS OR NEW PAID MEMBERSHIPS WERE ACCEPTED FOR 2018 ONWARD. THE GROUP AS IT WAS STRUCTURED BEFORE WAS DISBANDED.
Those who had memberships in 2017 received their last magazine under those subscriptions: Journal #76. Going forward, everyone can singly purchase magazines, calendars, event tickets or anything else purchased here on the website. No one needs a formal membership, nor has anyone ever needed a paid membership to purchase items from this website.
These days “membership” and “clubs” are all about social media groups which also are free. Therefore, I ask that you join our newsletter on this website, post comments here on the website blog posts and/or if you’re on Facebook, request to be added to our group there. However, please note that this is a “closed” group and the rules under our Terms and Conditions strictly apply.
As I’m now involved in a film project, I will continue to publish magazines as I can (there is much more research to present) and otherwise operate as normally as possible.
This website will post when new magazines become available and you may purchase them either as an amazing glossy magazine or as an e-book…which in particular would save people outside of the US the tremendous shipping fees – if that’s what they prefer. (Personally I still prefer the “feel” of a real magazine in my hands.)
For those in the US, if you still want print magazines they will cost $25 per magazine plus shipping (at this writing)…so it’s close to the $50 total folks used to pay per year. Those outside the US will pay the difference in their shipping costs. Others who prefer a digital magazine will have the option to buy and download them immediately thus pay no shipping at all. In this manner, our group can remain viable and we can continue our work of presenting photos, research, articles, interviews and other documentation surrounding the Jeanette-Nelson story.
Reality check: The New York Times announced that within ten years, they expect to no longer offer a print edition newspaper. New YorkMagazine went from weekly to twice monthly. Going into the new decade, USA Today may cease their print copy and Entertainment Weekly has gone monthly. Magazines still hanging in there offer very cheap deals or free subscriptions (if you know where to search for them) simply to keep up the subscriber base and be able to sell advertising. All print magazines have had to rethink their survival…or shut down. For the Mac/Eddy Club, ending the paid membership years and a new, revised structure seemed the most workable system after 2017.
A note about Lifetime Members: back in the day they received one of Nelson’s sculpture replicas as part of the their membership and the manufacturing+shipping cost accounted for most of what they paid. But still, they received free magazines, calendars and club meeting attendance. Our last Lifetime Membership was purchased in 2012; we removed that membership option shortly afterwards because the foundry we were using closed down. The majority of Lifetime Members go back many years earlier – some still from the 1980s. Bottom line, Lifetime Members have received far more in benefits than they paid – in most cases many times over – and we remain VERY GRATEFUL for their support. However, it was no longer viable to continue the club in this manner. As you know, we switched from traditional printing to print-on-demand some time ago to help keep printing expenses under control PLUS add the ability to use color inside the magazine. But at this writing, postage costs are about $35 to ship a single magazine global priority to members in Europe and Australia! That meant that for each Lifetime Member living overseas, the club paid close to $150/year per person to supply their magazines and calendar. In the US each magazine or calendar shipped at this writing cost $6.55 priority and in Canada it was over $20. We simply could not continue to absorb these costs. Event tickets at hotels have similarly risen in price and as of 2017 we fought, for example, to keep our LA luncheon meetings affordable in today’s world at $55/person.
For all these many years, we have concentrated on the QUALITY of the products we made available for you. Unlike other groups, we have never skimped on our beautiful glossy magazine, calendars or anything else. Yet we sought to keep the club affordable for the older fans, many of them on fixed budgets, or younger folks starting out in life who discovered Jeanette and Nelson wanting to know everything about them but couldn’t afford a membership or books or the items that they wanted. We have one elderly fan to whom I have sent club items for many years. She could never afford to pay but each Christmas sends us homemade cookies that she baked for us.
So…that’s how we’re moving forward effective January 1, 2018. Even if the magazines can finally be self-sufficient with the above guidelines, some have asked me about other club costs such as running the website. They want to donate or have some kind of basic membership plan anyway…We have been discussing and possibly in the future we can address this. Certainly this last year there has been added expense in having to hire a 24/7 security firm to keep watch on the website. In July 2017 we were viciously attacked and this plus other sites including my personal website, were hijacked. Most sites had to be rebuilt, component by component; some have not yet even been restored. The current plan is a workable system for now. If you have ideas or suggestions of what features you’d like to see on this website, do let me know.
As of 2018 I am finally tackling some projects that we have been waiting on…for too long. Have pulled back the reins, regrouped, shed some tears, squared my shoulders and gotten back to work. After all, I made a promise to Jeanette’s sister so many years ago…it’s time to once and for all to feel that I have achieved that for her, and for Jeanette and Nelson.
Finally, for those who asked whether we will ever offer the Nelson busts again, the answer is yes, I have been working with a new foundry and am dealing with the logistics of getting the molds to them…but we will be offering them again as a single purchase, not as part of a membership. If you are interested, please email.
Always feel free to email me with any questions or comments. We look forward to many more years of discovery with Jeanette and Nelson. It is still a thrill for me to today to get the mail, open a package and see a beautiful magazine cover with Jeanette and Nelson beaming off the page. I know that many of you feel that same thrill.
1 (2 ¼ cup) biscuit mix recipe
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (6-ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate
¼ cup butter
Prepare biscuit dough according to directions. Roll mixture into a rectangle approximately ¼-inch thick. In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons sugar, orange zest, cinnamon and cloves. Spread the mixture evenly across the dough. Roll dough jellyroll-style and slice into 9 evenly sized pieces.
Meanwhile, heat undiluted orange juice concentrate, butter and ½ cup sugar and stir until completely blended. Pour juice mixture into 8-inch square or round baking dish. Place sliced dough rolls, cut sides down, across juice mixture. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve while hot. Makes 9 rolls.
Backstory: in the early days of my research, I was taken to Tick Tock restaurant in Hollywood. It was a Hollywood landmark restaurant and I was introduced to Arthur Johnson, the owner. I interviewed him and he not only explained that Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy used to eat there fairly frequently in their heyday but he even showed me “their table.” The restaurant served homestyle, hearty food with huge portions. The restaurant was most famous for the basket of Sticky Orange Rolls placed on your table. Johnson said that Nelson in particular loved them.
Johnson pointed out that while Jeanette picked at her food, Nelson ate heartily and would happily finish up her food. In addition, anyone questioning their close relationship only had to watch them eating off the same fork and sharing food. Johnson remembered them generally in a happy mood with Jeanette giggling a lot and Nelson the jokester. One time he remembered they’d had a quarrel or discussed something serious (but no, he didn’t know what it was about). Sometimes, Johnson explained, they would order food-to-go which THEY picked up on their way to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. The restaurant prepared to-go meals for the two of them on several occasions. Their relationship was no secret, in other words. When I first went to the restaurant and asked about Jeanette and Nelson, the family knew all about their relationship and insisted I speak with Arthur for more details.
When our club was formed, we had some early luncheons at the restaurant – where fans took turns eating at “their” table. As the attached article states, they served a tremendous amount of food! I remember that after you ate the Sticky Rolls and appetizers, they then brought out sherbet to cleanse your palette. (Believe me, you were already full!) Then onto your main course and delicious homemade desserts. The price was quite reasonable for what they served you.
Johnson died in 1980 and we at some point moved the LA meetings over to the USO (courtesy of Bob Hope) and had our luncheons catered in. The whole area around Tick Tock and Hollywood Blvd in general became very seedy and the restaurant suffered and ultimately closed.
The recipe and details of Tick Tock restaurant were found in Hollywood du Jour by Betty Goodwin c. 1993.
Remembering Nelson Eddy today on the 51st anniversary of his passing…a great singer…
Movie audiences knew what they were looking at, a great lover off-screen as well as on…
…and a man whose life despite his artistry, passion, compassion, capacity for love and basic gentle, trusting nature, was irreversibly affected by Hollywood…summed up in a nutshell in this 1965 interview. Listen carefully to all the dynamics…boyish love, hope, youth, pain, memories, bitterness and entrapment in that he could never be fully honest for “public consumption.”
Our 76th issue wrapping up 2017… rounding out our 40th anniversary with several tributes including celebrating Maytime‘s 80th anniversary; a comprehensive article by Darryl Winston including a look at the top movie star rankings during the ’30s and early ’40s (and where Jeanette and Nelson fit in); a study of newly received paintings by Nelson done in his “blue” period of 1951-2 as well as busts, drawings, doodles and his nude torsos of Jeanette; an eyewitness write-up of Jeanette’s live 1944 operas; and early diary entries of Jeanette’s mother, Anna MacDonald, which shed some light on both her character and personal events going on in her daughter’s life. Also featured is the top Hollywood story in the news today – the Harvey Weinstein (and other moguls/actors) scandal and comparisons to the trials some stars endured with Louie B. Mayer…including young Shirley Temple. We have well-documented the heartbreaking interference of Mayer in the lives of Jeanette and and Nelson over the years. In a letter to columnist Hedda Hopper, Jeanette herself admitted that Nelson was basically “blacklisted” when she returned to MGM in the later 1940s…forget their proposed “joint” projects (such as The Rosary) or what became Three Daring Daughters, the bottom line was that Nelson was out and Jose Iturbi was in…
Gale Sherwood has died… We read an online posting from writer Laura Wagner (who is friends with someone in contact with Gale’s estate) that Gale Sherwood, Nelson Eddy’s nightclub singing partner of 14 years, passed away on December 31, 2017.
She was Canadian born on March 4, 1929 as Jacqueline Nutt. Her film debut was in 1939 in They Shall Have Music…see the adorable film clip above!
Under her stage name Gale Sherwood she also starred Blonde Savage (1947) which you can see here. Her greatest fame obviously stemmed from her association with Nelson in his nightclub act. She was also his co-star in the 1955 TV film of The Desert Song.
Above, an early shot of them together and below, arriving in Sydney, Australia for the final tour there in 1967 just weeks before Nelson’s death.
After her retirement, she lived quietly in Florida and kept her privacy out of the limelight by using her married last name. A widow, in recent years she had suffered with health and memory issues.
This news was originally posted on Facebook by Laura Wagner.
Update: part of the death certificate verifying this.