Here is the June 2017 LA meeting video honoring Jeanette and Nelson. Thanks as always to Tracy Wilborn for putting our event video together so beautifully! We’ve come such a long way over these years, haven’t we?
This event, filmed in Sturbridge, MA on May 1, 2016, highlights the recent breakthrough of vital new information. Segments include Angela Messino’s tribute to Bernadette Schwartz, our wonderful social media moderator; I replay an audio interview of a January 2016 interview I did with a woman who was on the same hospital floor as Jeanette when Nelson was with her, he was running up and down the halls all agitated and patients were warned to stay out of his way; Katie Gardner discusses new information, photos and studio documentation regarding Jeanette’s pregnancies by Nelson; Angela explains her detailed inspection of Jeanette’s finances during 1954-5 and the financial abuse of her husband Gene (and Jeanette’s opening of a bank account as Jeanette A. MacDonald rather than Jeanette A. Raymond); the discovery of letters that were misleadingly quoted by others including the word LOVE in an original handwritten by Nelson Eddy that was whited out before publication (by the Jeanette fan club and also by another biographer); and I discuss two new sculptures by Nelson obtained by Maria Escano – Nelson as Vasilly from The Chocolate Soldier and a 1950 torso of Jeanette.
Literally hundreds of hours went into the preparation of this meeting. I want to thank Angela, Katie and Maria, and the excellent video editing by Tracy Wilborn.
This meeting video is entitled GAME OVER. Watch it and you’ll see why!
Shown above is Jim Bayless, Sr., the original Vice President of Capitol Records. This was a tribute album cover presented to him upon his retirement. His son Jim, Jr. succeeded him and his daughter Madeline has at our Los Angeles events, “gone public” about her family’s friendship and working relationship with Nelson Eddy beginning with his earliest days in Hollywood.
Pictured below is Nelson with his home recording setup built by Jim Bayless.
For some reason this final video presentation written by Madeline was never uploaded to YouTube but here it is now, the sixth in the series written Madeline Bayless. This is Master Class #6 from June 29, 2014. From the video description:
Madeline Bayless completes her series of Master Classes discussing 1930s movie star and singer Nelson Eddy, who became a family friend upon signing with MGM (where Madeline’s father worked in the sound department). Nelson came to their home and Madeline had many interactions with him. Jim Bayless Sr. set up and installed Nelson’s home recording equipment and Jim Bayless Jr. was witness to Nelson and Jeanette MacDonald’s early romance, including seeing them together when Jeanette stayed overnight at Nelson’s house. In later years, Bayless Sr. recorded Nelson’s weekly radio shows, burned them to disc and brought them to Nelson for his self-critiquing. Madeline accompanied her father to see Nelson at his hideaway home known as “Mists” and the MacDonald-Eddy romance was discussed by Nelson himself and by her family (“What the hell has Nelson done?” asked Bayless Sr. upon learning that Nelson had eloped with someone else). Madeline also recalls some studio shenanigans and unsuccessful efforts by MGM boss Louie B. Mayer to cause trouble between Nelson and Jeanette. (Her father was the one who alerted Nelson.) Jim Bayless Sr. left MGM around the same time Nelson and Jeanette did, and became Vice President at newly formed Capitol Records. (He and Bayless Jr. remained with Capitol Records for the rest of their careers.)
For those of you unfamiliar with Madeline, she was a club member but it wasn’t until September 1996 that she broke her silence (two years after the first edition of Sweethearts came out, I might add). We were on the Lake Tahoe tour, we were sitting in the hotel lobby where everyone was staying… and she overheard some saints snickering at me and saying none of it was true…she looked over at me and asked to speak with me and to my surprise she started to cry. She said she knew for a fact it was true and she couldn’t stand to see how those folks were treating me and she wanted to tell me what she knew and how she knew it, etc. That was why she finally came forward.
Later, back in Los Angeles, Madeline fully briefed me and in 2000 finally agreed to be videotaped by myself and Judy Burns telling what she knew. It amazed us that Madeline knew about this story as early as 1934!! But even when she finally talked, it was all to be kept secret and I was not to mention her name…you all today in 2015 don’t know how lucky you are in the here and now that we can discuss this openly. It took a lot of courage for Madeline (and others who knew them) to step forward. But once Madeline agreed to start presenting just a tiny bit of what she knew in her “Master Class” presentations, she never looked back! And of course, in the latest edition of Sweethearts I have finally been able to quote Madeline by name and have included her involvement in Nelson’s life.
Thank you to Madeline Bayless for sharing her personal memories of Nelson Eddy over these last several years. (Thanks to Tracy Wilborn for editing this one.) To watch the other videos in this series, check out this link.