The Case Of The Diva’s Devotees (Part 1)

In the interest of maintaining some semblance of civility, I have, for the most part, refrained from providing challenge to many things which, as of late, have been being e-published about the lives of Jeanette MacDonald, Gene Raymond, and Nelson Eddy. Perhaps I’ve been going through a phase of sudden onset naivete, or I put too much stock in the notion that people would examine history with a certain objectivity or logic. In the end, the people with which I am grouped, “The Saints” have been being blasted on social media with name calling, accusations of flat out lying or covering up certain “known truths,” and “only seeing what we want to see.” I will be the first to openly admit that I do not now, nor have I ever condoned the hiding of facts about Jeanette MacDonald. You can see my past blog posts about her and her legacy, which supports that. As for others, including the leaders of the Jeanette MacDonald International Fan Club, I honestly cannot speak for them. What I can do is examine some recent and past events and, hopefully, apply rationality to these situations.

It is a known fact among Jeanette fans that Sharon Rich, author of Farewell To Dreams, Sweethearts, etc. uncovered Jeanette’s true birth year, 1903, via a baptismal record. It is also known that Jeanette’s crypt and her driver’s license said 1907. In an effort to protect Jeanette’s name (or, perhaps, overprotect), Clara Rhoades and Tessa Williams, with the consent of Gene Raymond, denied that Jeanette was born in 1903 for many, many years. As late as Jeanette’s actual centennial, June 18, 2003, there was still at least one person slightly attached to the group who denied her birth year. I wish that I could go back and change that series of events, but I can’t. Unfortunately, as is especially noted by myself, the protection backfired. It got to be too angelic. Because, sadly, it wasn’t just the birth year. (The following cannot explicitly be traced back to Gene Raymond, so please do not construe it as me saying so.) It was stories that showed Jeanette’s temper that were chopped from her life. Funny, everyday stories could not make the cut. I hate it, but as I said, I can’t change it.

Clara passed away in August of 2011 and Tessa, as of this writing, is suffering from dementia. Ebay auctions began recently, selling off what is now Tessa’s property- things that once belonged to Jeanette and Gene. There have been some incredible listings and equally incredible selling prices. While letters (which have been subsequently shared on websites and will, in turn, eventually be shared within this post, as the public has been given permission to “feel free to share this letter”) from Nelson to Jeanette have been found among the many, many things that were transferred from Gene to Clara and Tessa, it is still maintained that Gene first destroyed a bunch of things before “sending the balance to them.” (MacEddy(dot)com, 3/25/15 blog post titled The Gene Raymond Connection part 1). Long, though, have sources close to Clara and Tessa said that the two of them actually went to Gene’s home and picked up his (and Jeanette’s) belongings, themselves, after his death. Contained among these items were canceled checks dating back as far as the 1920’s. If anything, the problem may have been too many things to store. (Pure opinion, there. Can’t say either way, with certainty.) Now, here’s the part where I put on my logic hat, which often gets me into trouble on the internet. How can it be that these three people conspired to shred, burn, destroy all evidence of Nelson loving Jeanette or vice versa, and these two letters which, supposedly, are professions of deep love from him to her, made the cut? Believe what you want, I suppose, but that doesn’t make a single bit of good sense, to me.

Now, as to the content of the letters. In the first (pictured below, captioned “Letter A”), we are told by multiple sites that Nelson has signed it “very gratefully yours, Nelson Eddy.” In the second, however (pictured below, captioned “Letter B”), the same sites are adamant that it is signed “gratefully and fondly, your Nelson.” Note the absent “s” that is attributed to Letter B. Please examine both letters closely. Those are the same exact words written on both pages. Now, my observation proves nothing either way on a relationship, and I know that. What it does, hopefully, is make you see how easily these three people are being manipulated to suit the cause of “The Sinners.” And yet, we’re the only ones guilty of such “atrocities?”

Letter A (Yours)

Letter A (Yours)

Letter B (Your)

Letter B (Your)

This has already become ridiculously long, so it’ll have to come at you in sections (perhaps, with more curves than a scenic railway). In the meantime, feel free to offer up civil debate.

Many thanks to all who have inspired me to make these posts, to the many who have and are currently doing exhaustive research to detail Jeanette’s life, and to Erle Stanley Gardner for the title inspiration, haha.

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5 thoughts on “The Case Of The Diva’s Devotees (Part 1)

  1. Thanks so much for this blog entry. You express so well what many of us have been thinking for a long time. Those of us who believe what Jeanette MacDonald said about her life WHILE SHE LIVED have been lied about, made fun of and practically demonized by the other side on social media. You use critical thinking to examine this controversy with maturity, intelligence and just plain old common sense. And you do it in a logical and sane way. Those on the other side have labeled us “Saints’ and themselves “Sinners’ in an effort to further divide Jeanette’s fans. None of us consider ourselves “Saints” and we most certainly acknowledge that Jeanette was not a saint, either. But we love her, faults and all, and we do NOT feel the need to publicly demonize others in an effort to further our cause. Thanks, again.

    • I’ve honestly come to the conclusion that no one is going to convince either side to see it their way. The most we can do is try to sift through and try to be objective. Am I perfect at that? Definitely not. But I can try my best.

  2. You’re 100% correct that no one is going to convince either side to see it their way. But we can defend Jeanette’s reputation in a civil manner and, perhaps with the help of a few people doing exhaustive research, we can show future fans that her true legacy was her films and her music and that, while certainly not perfect, Jeanette lived a life of integrity…

  3. Exactly! I feel the same way for Nelson. Thank you for your objectivity and affection for the parties involved. I don’t mean to always push the Baritone into the your discussion, but, hey, he’s the alleged co-respondent! LOL

    • He deserves his rightful share of attention! I’m not as huge of a fan of his as I am Jeanette, so it’s easier for me to focus on her. In the end, though, not only is it Jeanette’s image and her relationship with Gene being tarnished, but also the very respectable image that Nelson maintained throughout his life. I honestly know squat about Ann Eddy, but I’m QUITE sure she isn’t the tentacled monster she’s been made out to be.
      Thanks for the comment!

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