Most of all, Bern had unshakable loyalty. That’s a rarity when you’re dealing with anything Hollywood. I’m just glad she’s not suffering anymore and I’m certain she’s broken free and is soaring now.
Most of all, Bern had unshakable loyalty. That’s a rarity when you’re dealing with anything Hollywood. I’m just glad she’s not suffering anymore and I’m certain she’s broken free and is soaring now.
Calling all Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy fans in Dublin!
Join Sandra Oman and Simon Morgan for their tribute show, “Will You Remember?” on Friday, August 19, 2016 at the National Concert Hall. From the promotional material:
Sheldon Nulty Music presents soprano Sandra Oman and baritone Simon Morgan in an unforgettable tribute to Silver Screen Icons of the ’30s and 40s, Jeannette MacDonald andNelson Eddy, in song and projected images. All of their famous cinematic hits – Will You Remember?; Rose Marie; Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life; Lover Come Back to Me; Wanting You; – will be interspersed with stories of their public persona and private lives. A concert for all lovers of opera and the Silver Screen!
The Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy events upcoming are going to be AMAZING. Two are upcoming and information about each plus tickets are at these links: Sturbridge, MA on May 1st, and Los Angeles on June 26.
I am not going to discuss the literally mind-blowing new information that will be presented at these meetings, and anyone who is helping me put either of these events together is advised NOT TO MENTION A WORD OR HINT ANYWHERE or on social media as to what will occur at either one of them.
The program that was originally scheduled to be presented in Los Angeles contains very vital information that most people were unaware of. For this we had a few guest speakers lined up to present this jaw-dropping info and get it on record.
However, the speakers scheduled for LA have as of this week all been shifted to the Sturbridge event which will begin, by the way, by my playing my recent audiotaped interview with the gal mentioned in an earlier post, who was in the Houston Methodist Hospital on the same floor as Jeanette because Michael DeBakey was her doctor as well. She discusses how one particular day Nelson, who was staying in the hospital “family room”, was frantically running up and down the hallway, alternately angry or in tears, going in and out of Jeanette’s room trying to get faster help for her, etc.
Then in Sturbridge I will speak on other matters and we will present the fascinating program that was originally planned for LA.
As for the Los Angeles meeting, may I suggest in no uncertain terms that you find a way to be there. These events are open to the public, you do not have to be a Mac/Eddy Club member to attend. (That is, like-minded folks are welcome to attend. We have a very clear policy stated in the “Terms of Service” posted on this website, and any potential dissenters should not purchase tickets, will not be admitted and/or will be escorted out.)
In my honest opinion, if you are able to manage it you should attend BOTH meetings, as the Sturbridge in a way sets the stage for some information that will be discussed later in Los Angeles. In recent years, probably the most important and highly emotional LA event was the one in which Madeline Bayless brought the actual gold charm bracelet that Nelson gave to Jeanette. Last June’s event was also one of tremendous emotion and new information.
This June promises to AT LEAST match the the intensity and revelations of those mentioned above. We will have to make a decision on how much of the event video will be posted online due to the nature of the material.
So if you care about finally solving some decades-old mysteries that have eluded us with this story, or want to be there to witness a truly amazing afternoon, I again suggest that you make every effort to attend these events if at all possible.
We need a fairly accurate head count for food so I’m asking you to make your reservations THIS WEEK for either event. Again, the ticket links are here: Sturbridge, MA on May 1st, and Los Angeles on June 26.
The photo above is Bernadette Schwartz standing next to the mailbox and entrance gate of 1330 Angelo Drive, high up in the hills above Benedict Canyon, overlooking the city of Los Angeles. There on the adjoining property behind the gates, further along the private road was a Jeanette-Nelson hideaway home, a bunkhouse that Nelson remodeled and that they called “Mists.”
Since 1998, Bern Schwartz has admirably run our Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy social media groups. Back when Yahoo was the only game in town, Bern started a Mac/Eddy Yahoo group where fans could chat, share information and photos, and discuss their films and lives. Five years later Facebook became in the “in” place to hang out and Bern in time moved our groups there and has continued moderating them.
This last weekend Bern, who has been ill but doctors initially misdiagnosed, stopped breathing and it took some time for the paramedics to get her pulse going again (the true test of whether oxygen administered is actually able to be utilized in the body and brain). Bern has been on life support since and although as of this writing she now has some reflexes working and has increased her ability to breathe on her own, she still has not woken up. Prayers are in order both for Bern and her family during this awful and uncertain waiting period. Bern’s blood pressure, which at one point spiraled pretty high, came right back down when her beloved Jeanette and Nelson music was played on her cell phone. She’s a fighter and we pray for her full recovery. Love to you, Bern, from all your friends around the globe!
Nelson’s writing about Jeanette: “give her my continuous love & sincerity” was not to be tolerated in one of the Jeanette fan clubs.
The fear of anyone taking Nelson’s word LOVE literally meant it had to be deleted from his letter! And quoted in their fan club magazine with a hanging sentence.
Hence the whiteout. On page 2 of an original, 1960 handwritten letter by Nelson Eddy.
Even though Jeanette herself published the letter elsewhere with that “offensive” word intact, Jeanette’s “official” biographer chose to quote that letter in his book but also with the word LOVE omitted.
In this blog post written by Katie, you can read the whole story and see the astounding degree that these people went to in their censorship.
One can’t blame some fans for believing in the happy Jeanette-Gene love fest, as this was crammed down their throats for years. The deliberate sabotage and attempts to belittle Nelson at every turn cannot be ignored.
That forbidden word LOVE stricken from this fairly innocent letter boggles the mind.
In addition, note that Nelson signs off the letter NOT with the word “sincerely” but “sincerity.”
There is an “and” symbol, the ampersand – & – written after the word “love.” In other words, what Nelson is actually writing is: “Give her my continuous love & sincerity.”
The dictionary definition of this word: “the quality of being free from pretense, deceit, or hypocrisy.” The first synonym listed for this word: “honesty.” Other synonyms are: genuineness and truthfulness.
Nelson Eddy was a master with words and here he is offering his “continuous love & sincerity” in such a truthful but sneaky way that this probably went over the heads of most others reading it. Otherwise, who knows, the self-appointed censors might have whited out that word as well!
Thanks also to Angela sharing the original letter.
Nelson Eddy had an amazing baritone voice; from one of his very first opera reviews: “A young singer, scarcely 20 years of age…Mr. Eddy was a star from the moment he appeared on the stage.”
Movie stardom also came “overnight” once he was showcased in a lead role in 1935. Nelson himself scoffed at his acting ability, as did many critics. But none could scoff at his voice, charisma, or the genuine sincerity of this man who in “real life” had a tremendous capacity for love and compassion. This serious young man who dropped out of school at 14 to help support his divorced mother, was highly educated and throughout his life was always reading, learning and searching for philosophical truths. He had a longing and need to understand life and comprehend why it dealt him such difficult hands. That personal tragedies nearly brought him down several times is undeniable, that he was able to pull himself back up by his boot straps and carry on, and re-invent himself and find loyal and loving friends in his life is again, nothing short of miraculous.
The lines spoken by a friend during his eulogy are so very true: “Nelson was a straightforward, simple man yet one of the most delicate, sensitive and complex natures I have known. And he had integrity and a shining honesty in his work and in the way he lived, the like of which I have never seen.”
In recent months we have come to learn about and see the viscous comments, letters and documented actions of some people in Nelson’s sphere, particularly in the Jeanette MacDonald camp. In the years Jeanette was failing, those people did everything they could to negate Nelson, try to write him out of her life and make him feel unwanted. (Here’s an actual example that clearly makes the point…just mind boggling!) It is painful for me (and many of us) to learn these things this last year, how very stressful was it for Nelson to experience living in that hostile atmosphere and to have his help turned away by those who preferred to see Jeanette go down. One can easily understand why at times he had to simply walk away and create life and work and art and close friendships elsewhere.
By nature, he was a man capable of youthful, lighthearted fun and joy, to see the positive side of life and live for the present and future. And yet, the sorrows of the past could drag him down into almost unspeakable pain. Whatever his emotions, they were easily read on his face and in his manner, that naked, boyish honesty that shone through when he was singing or acting onscreen.
In 1948 Jeanette wrote of Nelson to his mother in a letter:
These have been days of pain for me – yes, but the close companionship, the lovely inarticulate hours when his sweet silence alone is a long of love – sweet than all else. No girl was ever so tenderly loved. I thought I knew every phase of his life – but never has he been like this. Now I know the gentle healing power of that love…
Did you ever read Longfellow’s poem “Footsteps of the Angels”? He recited every verse to me and it was indeed the footsteps of the angels to my soul.
And here, fittingly, are the words of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem written in 1839. Can you imagine Nelson Eddy reading this poem aloud and explaining and discussing its meaning as a comfort to the woman who had just lost his child?
Footsteps of Angels
When the hours of Day are numbered,
And the voices of the Night
Wake the better soul, that slumbered,
To a holy, calm delight;
Ere the evening lamps are lighted,
And, like phantoms grim and tall,
Shadows from the fitful firelight
Dance upon the parlor wall;
Then the forms of the departed
Enter at the open door;
The beloved, the true-hearted,
Come to visit me once more;
He, the young and strong, who cherished
Noble longings for the strife,
By the roadside fell and perished,
Weary with the march of life!
They, the holy ones and weakly,
Who the cross of suffering bore,
Folded their pale hands so meekly,
Spake with us on earth no more!
And with them the Being Beauteous,
Who unto my youth was given,
More than all things else to love me,
And is now a saint in heaven.
With a slow and noiseless footstep
Comes that messenger divine,
Takes the vacant chair beside me,
Lays her gentle hand in mine.
And she sits and gazes at me
With those deep and tender eyes,
Like the stars, so still and saint-like,
Looking downward from the skies.
Uttered not, yet comprehended,
Is the spirit’s voiceless prayer,
Soft rebukes, in blessings ended,
Breathing from her lips of air.
Oh, though oft depressed and lonely,
All my fears are laid aside,
If I but remember only
Such as these have lived and died!
Nelson Eddy was a rare and unique man and we honor his memory today. Thanks to Maria Escano for the photo…and thanks to all who have helped us learn and understand more in this last year.
I would sincerely encourage those of you interesting in learning more to attend either our Sturbridge, MA event or the Los Angeles one – or both. Our “Master Classes” continue because amazingly, the research and revelations continue as well.
Nelson Eddy is pictured above with Sheba, the dog given to him by Jeanette MacDonald, many months before they actually began making a film together in 1934.
I want to give a shout out to Kitty Job for sending the following email:
Hi Sharon, I came across this little ditty sung by Nelson on The Bell Telephone Hour. I was kind of shocked by it, but I guess this is the side of Nelson we don’t like to see – his cynical, depressed side.
Date: Sept. 22, 1952
I Loved A Lass – William FranzPoem by George WitherI loved a lass, a fair one,As fair as e’er was seen;She was indeed a rare one,Another Sheba Queen:But, fool as then I was,I thought she loved me too:But now, alas! she’s left me,Falero, lero, loo!Her cheeks were like the cherry,Her skin was white as snow;When she was blithe and merryShe angel-like did show;Her waist exceeding small,The fives did fit her shoe:But now, alas! she’s left me,Falero, lero, loo!To maidens’ vows and swearingHenceforth no credit give;You may give them the hearing,But never them believe;They are as false as fair,Unconstant, frail, untrue:For mine, alas! hath left me,Falero, lero, loo!
As those of you who have read Sweethearts know, Nelson and Jeanette were prone to singing in public certain songs that had private meanings in their lives at the moment.
For Nelson to choose this song during a bitter point in his life, with the reference to “Sheba” which was Jeanette’s first gift to him so many years earlier – is telling.
What was happening in September 1952 when this radio show was broadcast? Well, Nelson was suffering still after the personal breakup with Jeanette. It was now about two years later and professionally, both stars were floundering. But interestingly enough, they were moving step-by-step toward a reconciliation that would occur on national TV during Nelson’s surprise appearance on Jeanette’s episode of This is Your Life in November. And in between his singing “I Loved a Lass” on the radio and This is Your Life, Nelson filmed a TV pilot called Nelson Eddy’s Backyard in which he plays a TV version of himself, he gazes at his own painting on the wall of Lake Tahoe (a meaningful location for them), and looks into the camera and sings “Wish You Were Here.” This was all leading up to the night before This is Your Life when Nelson quietly slipped into the audience of Jeanette’s local concert and slipped out again without even letting her know, although sharp-eyed fans noticed him.
Thank you, Kitty, for showing another bit of evidence to demonstrate how yes, Nelson’s life played out in public if anyone cared to observe.
Above we see two screenshots from the 1938 MGM film, Dramatic School, in which Jeanette’s sister Blossom (billed as Marie Blake) had a good-sized role alongside the film’s star Luise Rainer.
Just a couple of weeks ago, my own sister Arlene was visiting me in New York in February 2016. While I was on the phone basically being interviewed about certain Mac/Eddy facts, incidents and dates regarding Blossom in particular, Arlene overheard some of the conversation (the call was on speakerphone) and piped up that because of my father she also had worked at the Motion Picture Country Home (MPCH) in the accounting department, and that I had introduced her to Blossom.
Well, folks, we squealed and laughed…I didn’t remember that!…and I was amazed because while Blossom knew my other sister Julie, my mom and my first husband Tom, I did not recall introducing Blossom to Arlene at the Home. Funny, isn’t it? I expect every one I interview to know exactly what they were doing on such-and-such a date 40+ years ago with complete accuracy, and yet here I am having forgotten such an interesting tidbit of information. Oh well, such is life!
So Arlene told us the following: also as a teenager she worked after school there in the main building, in accounting. Remember that my father was the accountant for some executive in charge of hiring there. This man’s name escapes me at this point (and mom doesn’t remember either, nor does Arlene) but this is the fellow who called me into his office to say that Gene Raymond didn’t want me around anymore after I told Gene that Blossom had asked me to write a book about Jeanette. The man told me that I did excellent work and that that the residents there praised me – but that it was politics in regards to Gene Raymond (then on the Board of the MPCH) and his hands were tied.
Arlene worked part-time for our dad for school credit and pocket money… originally in dad’s office but for a time at the MPCH. We’ve since discussed this more and don’t know whether our dad was doing basic accounting for the Home itself as well as his other client. (Our dad was not in the film industry but his clients included many industry folks and this was how I was able to get interviews with some of his actor clients and others quoted in my book. Dad also helped package some film deals.)
Arlene recalls that I stopped by to see her one day in the main building, dressed in my Candy Striper uniform, and took her over to the Lodge to meet Blossom. Blossom was “a nice old lady” sitting in a chair in her room, was very pleasant and the two of us filled Arlene in on the book and research project, and I showed Arlene some of the photos Blossom was providing me to use.
Arlene was now interviewed on the phone and was asked about Blossom’s speech. Arlene said she had no trouble understanding her. Arlene observed that Blossom and I had a close friendship and were working together on a project that was meaningful to us.
In recalling again the events at the Motion Picture Home and the subject of Blossom’s speech, I mentioned one of the times that her speech was perfect and normal for a few days, and the circumstance that triggered it. I did publish this back in a 1991 article and here is an excerpt:
I’d like to clarify here that there were times when her speech suddenly returned, perfect. There was no predictability on this, it just happened. Once it occurred after we were looking at the Bible and I started to read the 23rd psalm. She recited it with me, and by the end of it, her speech was perfect and remained so for a couple of days before it slipped back. I have no medical explanation for this but it did happen. That evening Blossom, I and some “cute guys” (Blossom’s term) who worked in the Home sat with her in the dining room until the wee hours, drinking wine [they drank, I didn’t], and listening to her talk about Clark Gable, Hollywood’s golden days, etc. This happened infrequently at other times as well.
Blossom, similar to her sister Jeanette, was a religious and spiritual person but not necessarily in the traditional sense. Like Jeanette, she felt that mind over matter could at times produce great results. I was asked and will answer here as well; yes, at later times we read more out of the Bible, reciting together in hopes that Blossom’s speech would revert back to normal as it had once before – even if temporarily. But it only happened this one time after reading the Bible. Other times her speech came back unexpectedly or after I worked with her on speech therapy.
I have to say that the only time I ever saw Blossom cry was when her speech slipped back after this particular incident.
Each year, Blossom attended the annual Jeanette fan club Clan Clave finale. Her last one was 1977, just 6 months before her death. That was my last one as well, since our own club began in the fall of that year. But in Sweethearts I wrote about surreptitiously screening one of my sources, Sunny Griffin, by taking him over to see Blossom at this event when he first showed up in June 1976. I wanted to see her reaction to him. That she embraced him and they talked excitedly and that Sunny lit two cigarettes like in Now Voyager and put one in Blossom’s mouth, told me what I needed to know. Sunny attended both 1976 and 1977, but in the 1976 one Gene Raymond was not there. According to the Jeanette fan club publication, his new wife Nelson (that was her actual first name, folks!) had badly injured her hand. That was Gene’s reason for not attending. No, I don’t know any circumstances about that, how it was injured, did he hurt her, was it a self-injury… no data, folks. I just know that back then we were told by Clara Rhoades, that club president, that the marriage wasn’t happy. Why did Gene marry her? She was wealthy, pretty, maybe her ironic first name? Who knows. I was told that she was a religious woman and made it her mission to help Gene handle his drinking problem but obviously that was a failure as he got visibly drunk at these Clan Clave meals, to the dismay of some of the rather prim Jeanette fans there. And if his wife “Nels” had any concerns about other aspects of Gene’s life, it’s evident that it was status quo. In the page reproduced below from the 1977 Jeanette fan club journal, we learn that Gene’s friend Buddy Rogers was still very much in the picture after all these decades.
Here is that magazine cover:
And the write-up inside of the first event, which I have marked for interest:
Re: Sunny Griffin who talked about his adventures with Jeanette, Blossom and Gene in New York. I heard Jeanette’s secretary Emily West introduce him to Clara as “an old friend” of Jeanette’s and that’s why I wanted to check him out with Blossom.
Then, Samuel Griffin, attending his first Clan Clave, took his turn. He was so enthusiastic that he held the audience in the palm of his hand.
And as for Blossom:
Blossom received her standing ovation which she acknowledged with a broad smile. She is looking very well and seems to grow younger each year.
The following June of 1977, Gene was in attendance, as was Sunny and Blossom. Gene welcomed Sunny as a good friend of theirs and laughed with the group as Sunny stood at the podium and related more anecdotes. It was written up here:
With comments from the page below:
Jeanette’s sister, Blossom Rock, acknowledged her standing ovation with a broad grin. She’s looking as chipper as ever and just sparkled at being present.
Patricia Dale Beaumont and Samuel Griffin each took a turn speaking about “their” Jeanette….Samuel, his usual jovial self, entertained with a little story about Jeanette and a parrot.
Never mind that Blossom began first talking to me in 1970, even up till six months before her death she was on public display at a public event and interacting with Jeanette’s fans.
And no, I don’t remember the parrot story. We later videotaped many hours of Sunny Griffin but that incident doesn’t seem to be on the later tapes we did in 1982.
I’ve said it before and will again: we are lucky to have had such an ally in Blossom, who was a kind and social person. Her determination to have her sister’s story told is why we’re all here today.
Below, three wonderful photos of Blossom that are new to me but that certainly show what a spunky lady Blossom was. The first one is from the Masquire’s St. Patrick’s Day dinner honoring Donald O’Connor, also with Emily West – March 1964.
The one below is from Blossom’s birthday, August 21, 1965. Not sure but this might have been taken at her house.
This last one is from a community breakfast at the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel, 1966, also with Emily West, who worked for the Gene even after Jeanette’s death till her own health finally failed.
Thanks to Angela Messino for sending us these great photos of Blossom!
I want to reach out here to anyone who has a story to tell about Jeanette MacDonald or Nelson Eddy and has not yet contacted us. Please do. Whatever your age, if you know something, it’s time to share. If you’re getting on in years, don’t delay. Or if you have a parent or grandparent who knew something or had an anecdote to tell, please share. Photos, letters, information, personal experiences, whatever…
If you think there isn’t more to learn, you’ll see otherwise when you read the story below. It’s new information that I learned this very week. And one of several interviews done over the last weeks and months. Don’t think that new folks aren’t always coming forward…because they are. I spend literally hours and hours talking with people, learning new facts. Some of you can vouch this because I answer your texts or emails, or phone call very late at night my time. Thankfully the world is a very small place now that we can easily chat with anyone, anywhere. Whatever continent you’re on, it doesn’t matter.
For some, it takes a certain degree of COURAGE to come forward and speak publicly. I understand that, I’ve been through it. I’ve helped others with it. If you have sensitive data, I understand that it’s a matter of wanting to ensure that Jeanette and/or Nelson are presented as the good people that they were. Their kindness toward others and their good deeds outshine any human frailties. But many people still ask why this or that happened. We are still filling in the pieces, the nuances, understanding beyond basic facts that they were at this event or that on such and such a date. There are layers to knowledge. As always, your anonymity is ensured if that is your preference.
Only when we understand the adversities that they faced over the decades can we understand the level of caring and the love that endured, perhaps differently than we would have wished if we were writing the scenario, until Jeanette’s death.
The following story is a summation of an interview with a woman who lives in Houston, Texas. She allowed me to tape her and told me to share it as I chose. During one of Jeanette’s hospital visits in Houston, this woman was on the same hospital floor. Not for a heart condition, but her son worked with Dr. DeBakey and so she was a patient with her room near to Jeanette’s.
The woman had occasion to see Jeanette a few times, she reported that Jeanette was very thin and looked to be in pain, and that she was so pale that her freckles were clearly visible.
One day the woman was alerted to the fact that she should stay out of the hallway, as Nelson Eddy was there literally running up and down outside their doors, and if she ventured out he might run right into her! Of course she had to check it out and indeed, there was Nelson, periodically bursting out of Jeanette’s room to go find a nurse or someone because Jeanette needed something, they were waiting too long for a nurse or whatever. The woman described Nelson as silver-haired (note: he didn’t use a color rinse when he wasn’t working), it was flopping over his forehead, and during that day he was very agitated and emotional, his face red, even in tears.
I asked how long Nelson was there; she said a few days and that he stayed in a private room there in the hospital, used for family members. Was Gene or Blossom there, I asked? Yes, she remembered Blossom but Gene was not there at the time Nelson was in residence.
When I asked what was happening and why Nelson was upset, she answered that DeBakey was doing what he could for Jeanette but it really did not help, whatever treatment was not going to make a difference or prolong her life much. The needed research and procedures came a bit too late for her.
And by the way, the woman commented, only two of Jeanette’s visits to the Houston Methodist Hospital and/or to consult with DeBakey made the newspapers. But there were a few others and she knew for a fact that Nelson was there with her on other occasions, though it was kept quiet. But this was the one instance that she came face-to-face with Nelson.
When I asked her if people didn’t think that was strange, after all, Nelson Eddy wasn’t married to Jeanette MacDonald in “real life” so wasn’t it a scandal? What was he doing there? Didn’t people talk or wonder? She answered that no one cared, they accepted and understood there was a relationship there. You didn’t talk about those things. No one made a fuss.
By the way, I have verified from another source the fact that Nelson was in Houston with Jeanette more than once for her health issues, just as the woman above claimed.
This just an example of tidbits of info that come our way. The Houston-based gal was actually speaking with my husband when he handed me the phone and said, “I think you need to talk to this lady.”
While she prefaced her encounter with Nelson with a “It’s no big deal…” I let her know that in the Mac/Eddy universe, this surely WAS a big deal and I thanked her for sharing her story.
The great comedienne was honored tonight with the Screen Actors Guild 2016 Lifetime Achievement award. As she accepts, she mentions her childhood of watching movies and about 2 minutes in she mentions Nelson and Jeanette.