The photo above is a closeup from Ned Wayburn’s “Demi Tasse Revue” which opened at the Capitol Theatre on October 24, 1919. Take a close look at the girl in the center of the photo…yes, she resembles Jeanette MacDonald but those dimples give her away. It’s Jeanette’s older sister Blossom, who spoke up to Wayburn and got Jeanette her first job in the same show. Below is the full lineup of dancing girls.
And a closeup from the program, showing her billing as Blossom McDonald, still using the original correct Irish spelling of their last name.
In this important show, George Gershwin introduced his song “Swanee” while another actress had her own scandalous featured song. Recognize her?
It’s Mae West! But most important to readers here is Blossom’s younger sister, all of 16 when she landed her first small part. Already her beauty stands out above the others. Below, a signed portrait of Jeanette from 1920; note she’s still spelling her name “Jeannette.” But don’t be fooled by her waif-life beauty, the set of her chin and those determined eyes reflect a young girl ready for stardom.
Celebrating the 117th birthday of Nelson Eddy, the most famous baritone of the 20th century. He was the first “crossover” opera singer to become a major movie star and virtual rock star of his day.
Above, Nelson’s 37th birthday on the set of “Sweethearts” (1938) with his pregnant co-star/girlfriend/future secret wife Jeanette MacDonald. Posing here with a dog and her new puppies was no random coincidence as they were expectant parents at this point in time.
In 1933 when he first went to Hollywood, Nelson at first planned to make a couple of films and then return to the opera and concert life. Then his world changed completely when he met Jeanette MacDonald and their lives spun off into a totally different direction. Later he would write a song based on his love for her, shocking fans by singing such passionate lyrics on his radio show: My Wonder One.
Happy birthday, Jeanette MacDonald! Born 115 years ago… a great singer and movie star. Despite more than her share of life’s challenges, she always wore a smile in public and encouraged others. Below…what better birthday to display here today than 1938 – perhaps her happiest, with a certain baritone kissing her (in public) and sucking on her lower lip as we’ve seen so often. A happy secret shared between them…and perhaps the anticipation that the fortune teller’s prediction would come true later that year…having a special child that would do great things in the world…
Re-visiting the best seller list, one day after the TCM Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy film marathon! Right now the Kindle edition of Sweethearts is #88 in “Actors and Entertainers.” Thank you all who purchased it!
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.