Poetic Memories – A new Nelson Eddy – Jeanette MacDonald book release!
Today, Thursday, July 15, 2021, TCM (Turner Classic Movies) is having a Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy film festival beginning at 6:30 am Eastern time, screening 7 of their 8 films together!
In honor of this event, we released a new 8-book series entitled Poetic Memories. It’s a Limited Edition, only available on this website, wire bound books, 11×8.5″, totaling over 300 pages, printed on glossy paper with unique cover photos for each book and color photos on every page. Click here for more details and to order the book series.
Here for example is a poem by Nelson to Jeanette:
“I shall perhaps want you to lose all prudence for awhile,
To give me the wine of the Gods many times.
Till I am drunk with its charm and sweetness.
That I may remember for all the ages, the fiery passion of you.
And never forget the passing of this hour.”
From the back cover blurb, copyright ©2021 by Sharon Rich, all rights reserved:
“He is waiting for you, out there on the cool night scented terrace, and you go to his arms aching for his love – this boy you once thought was not worth giving up a career for.” – Nelson Eddy
“Poetic Memories is a compilation of eight scrapbooks lovingly compiled in the 1940s by a fan with an inside connection to Nelson Eddy’s mother, Isabel. The original scrapbooks are reproduced in color. Each page features vintage magazine or greeting card clippings to complement a quote from the writings of Nelson Eddy, Jeanette MacDonald or his mother’s unpublished memoirs. If you have read the biography Sweethearts by Sharon Rich, you may recognize some of the quotes, but many more are revealed here for the first time.
“Most of Nelson’s quotes come from private diaries he wrote for Jeanette, often describing their intimate moments in graphic sexual detail, often in Victorian style. Nelson wrongly expected Jeanette to outlive him as he was seriously injured during WWII and later nearly died of pneumonia. He called his journals “insurance” to keep memories of their passion alive for Jeanette when he was gone. After his marriage to Ann Franklin in 1939, Nelson had kept a room at his mother’s residence and set up a “shrine” to Jeanette MacDonald, his singing partner and off-screen love. Over the years he filled the room with his own artwork: nude drawings, paintings and sculptures of Jeanette. In the mid 1940s, Isabel began writing her memoirs and snooped into her son’s private papers, including Jeanette’s letters to Nelson. Perhaps unwisely, Isabel shared much of this very intimate information with a close friend. Isabel was eventually caught when lengthy pages of Nelson’s writings were copied and leaked to the wrong people. While publicly forced to deny their veracity, Nelson was personally angry and felt betrayed. He moved his collection out of Isabel’s house and distanced himself from her as a confidante. From a historical perspective, even though the poetic memories were never meant for public view, they and hundreds of letters providing insight into these years were miraculously not destroyed.”
These books are scanned from the original scrapbooks, 75+ years old; some were in near-mint condition, others partially crumbled when opened to scan. Below is a sample page from Volume 5, which contains a quote from a Jeanette letter obviously written to Isabel Eddy, as Isabel shared the letter. It’s not clear whether the photo accurately reflects the bracelet Jeanette is referring to but we do have written documentation that, according to Isabel, Nelson gave Jeanette over a million dollars worth of jewelry over the years. Here is Jeanette’s quote:
“I think he feels a great happiness knowing that I will wear this gift of his for all the world to see – and yet not know – that it brings him so close to me that our love will live in every song I sing. ‘They have been wet with my tears,’ he said, “Touch them whenever you need me and I will be there.'”
Again, the link is here for the new book series.
May 27, 2022 @ 1:01 pm
I’m curious. Do you have documents of Isabel’s letter’s detailing Nelson’s diary? Such as letters in her handwriting, envelops with addresses, etc? Or pages of Nelson’s diary in his handwriting?
May 27, 2022 @ 1:37 pm
One more thing that I forgot to add: Clark Gable was a notorious tightwad, worse than Cary Grant and Randolph Scott. He wouldn’t part with a dollar if he could help it. So it’s impossible to believe he whipped out a wad of cash (he wouldn’t have parted with money on any friend’s account), much less plaster it on a table. Not a chance.
June 2, 2022 @ 11:50 pm
Gable and Nelson were indeed drunk; this happened in the MGM commissary. Who knows how much currency was dipped in drinks and wallpapered on the table but whatever they both had went into the booze and then lined up on the table. There were 3 sources for this including a woman who worked at the MGM commissary. Nelson later related the same story to a woman he dated (while he and Jeanette were estranged) and that they went back to Gable’s dressing room, drank some more and Nelson passed out. This during the filming of “Maytime.” Gable wasn’t always a great influence on Nelson. However, I think Nelson learned a lot from what happened with the Gable-Loretta Young baby (Judy Lewis, who did a joint book signing with me in Beverly Hills) and when Nelson found himself in a similar situation with Jeanette (she married to Gene Raymond but pregnant with Nelson’s child), he insisted on that trip to Mexico so Jeanette could get a quickie divorce from Gene, marry Nelson and have their baby be born with Nelson’s name. No way was he NOT going to be a part of that baby’s life. One has to wonder how Gable really felt about having a daughter he could never acknowledge.
June 2, 2022 @ 11:26 pm
We have original letters and postmarked envelopes from the 1940s but they were copied from the original correspondence from Isabel Eddy to her old friend Sarah Tucker. Transcriptions of said letters were generally handwritten and Isabel’s memoirs were typewritten. At the time, the correspondence was shared with a woman named Dorothy Dillard, who took it upon herself to verify data with people in Los Angeles close to Nelson Eddy. An example is his mother’s claim that Jeanette suffered a miscarriage (Nelson’s baby) the night of December 19, 1947 and that they had their doctor tend to her at “Mists” rather than take her to the hospital. Dorothy’s source in LA said she wouldn’t believe it unless she learned that Jeanette and Gene cancelled or postponed their annual Christmas party. It turned out that party indeed was postponed until December 27. Event after event was verified by a group of people in various cities where events took place.
May 27, 2022 @ 1:27 pm
Your info on their love story is correct. The other bios on both read like a gushing Louella Parson’s column. And it’s interesting they were written after the first Sweethearts was published.
That being said, the book contained the stock myths about silent stars that have been disproven. And Clark Gable never killed anyone by running over them. He ran his car into a tree. What’s more, Mayer was not in love with either Jeanette or Greer. He was madly in love with Jean Howard. Nor did he molest Judy Garland. It was Spencer Tracy who groomed her when she was 14. She admitted she lied about that because she hated him
LB really was a prude when it came to that. Demanding sexual favors is the one horrible thing he didn’t do. He did much worse than that. Jeanette couldn’t have possibly serviced him nor could any other actress. He simply didn’t demand that kind of thing The other studio heads were like that.
That being said, my family is industry. I’m an industry kid. My dad was an entertainment attorney and my uncle was Karl Malden. They told me all about old Hollywood and the MacDonald and Nelson relationship was common knowledge. Not a single person in the colony (as it was called then) didn’t know. My uncle told me that if they had wanted to separate from their spouses and set up a house together that wouldn’t have been difficult. It had been done by many married stars who were married. There was a simple way to do it and MGM would have ruined Ann and Gene, not the other way around. Remember, MGM had dirt on everyone, even spouses. Why the couple didn’t do that, no one knows. LB would not have killed the golden goose. My uncle said they were overly dramatic, paranoid people but simply an adorable couple.
I was also able to talk to Robert Stack. I’m a huge Carole Lombard fan and he gave me lots of info. One actress lead to others and he corroborated Nelson’s and Jeanette’s affair.
If people don’t want to believe it-fine. But it’s the truth.
May 27, 2022 @ 1:42 pm
Clark Gable cont: this is why he took so long to divorce Ria, much to Carole’s frustration. She wanted $300,000 and no way Clark was going to part with that money. It took MGM to pay her in exchange for playing Rhett Butler.
Sorry to write so much
June 2, 2022 @ 11:57 pm
Nelson’s wife Ann demanded what would have basically been 2 million dollars in the mid 1940s to divorce him. In today’s dollars, that’s over 30 million dollars!! People ask why Nelson didn’t get a divorce; a Dorothy Kilgallen blind item explained that Nelson would have coughed up the money BUT Ann’s other stipulation was to drag Jeanette’s reputation in the mud, as a homewrecker (untrue) and a slut. In those days, it would have ruined Jeanette’s career and likely her health, which was precarious even then. Because Ann had some mental problems and had lined up 7 psychiatrists to verify this in court, Nelson could not initiate the divorce himself.
June 2, 2022 @ 11:40 pm
Thank you. My sources on Mayer’s obsession with Jeanette include Samuel Marx, Joe Hyams and Nat Finston who said: “It was sexual. He [Mayer] was crazy for her,” and this was when Paramount first signed her. Nelson Eddy himself was another source. Also, Garland may have lied about the story she told regarding Mayer but Marx walked into Mayer’s office and saw something totally different, which he said sickened him. There’s also a filmed interview with Luise Rainer about Mayer telling her what Jeanette had to do to sign a contract with him; Rainer refused to do it. Miliza Korjus also told me Mayer chased her around the office… and others like Ida Lupino said at a public event that Mayer was worse than the others. Anyway, I met and interviewed your uncle when I was a guest at the Cauliflower Alley Group luncheon and yes, he said everyone knew about Jeanette and Nelson’s affair. They did have separate homes together and friends would put them up in various cities, or they stayed in hotels. Yes, it’s accurate to say “They were overly dramatic, paranoid people but simply an adorable couple.” Wonderful quote, thank you! Yes, Robert Stack was close to Gene Raymond and Stack’s family (mother or grandmother) owned a home in Lake Arrowhead where Jeanette and Nelson used to tryst together. Please use the contact form to contact me; would love to chat further.
May 27, 2022 @ 1:58 pm
Gosh, sorry. Yet another post.
I don’t believe Laurrie’s story about Nelson wanting babies with her and telling her to set her terms. I don’t believe he would offer to divorce Ann, live with Laurrie and give her everything. If he wouldn’t do that for Jeanette he wouldn’t do that for anybody else. He was a person who frequently got carried away in the moment but in reality other women were no more than blankets. It had always been Jeanette and no other.
June 3, 2022 @ 12:13 am
I don’t know that Nelson wanted babies with her, just that if she got pregnant, he would take care of her and the child. At this point, Jeanette was past childbearing age and they had been looking at the idea of perhaps not adopting but taking care of and helping to raise a child together. Plus Jeanette was angry with him at the moment, likely because of Gale Sherwood. Nelson might have told others he could divorce Ann but I don’t believe that ever would have happened. A legal separation? Maybe… but Ann was never going to let Nelson off the hook even if she got past the idea of trashing Jeanette in a public way. Or threatening to throw acid in Jeanette’s face so Nelson wouldn’t want her anymore, etc. The documentation I’ve seen shows that Ann was a noose around Nelson’s neck till the end, even as Gene Raymond soaked up Jeanette’s money while she was still alive but not well enough to work anymore. One day Laurrie and I were sitting in her home, talking, and she said something that felt like a summation of the truth: “I guess in the end we were just friends with benefits.”