In my last post, I discussed one statement from The Gene Raymond Connection, by Sharon Rich on MacEddy.com. There is, however, more that I feel needs to be examined.
The question is posed as to why it was necessary for so many publicity photos to be taken of Jeanette MacDonald and Gene Raymond, as a couple. Honestly, I feel that a simple knowledge of how publicity worked, in Hollywood, should suffice. There was a time when movie publicity was, for the most part, handled by the studios. For instance, if a star had a movie coming up, it wasn’t uncommon for a photo spread and a story to be put in a magazine, with a little note to remind audiences that Star Lady A could be seen in Movie B, opening Date C. In addition, when stars freelanced, their own agents would often arrange for photo ops to keep them in the public eye. To draw a bit of a comparison here- do we all recall when Bette Davis took an ad out in the paper, advertising her services? She was telling Hollywood, “I’m here!” That’s what publicity photos are also for.
In terms of the sheer amount, let me draw in another comparison. I’ve said before that my favorite human being who ever existed (Sorry, Jeanette, but the both of us love you very much, so don’t hurt us) is Kathryn Grayson. At one point, and hopefully again in the future, I had a fan site devoted to her. Because of this, I got the publicity still collecting bug. In this collection, there are 38 originals of the movie magazine candid photos of Kathryn and Johnny Johnston, her husband from August 1947 to October 1952. Five years, and the last one shouldn’t even count. Those 38 are a mere fraction of what is out there. What I’m getting at, here, is that there is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, with respect to the amount of publicity that Jeanette and Gene did, even just when she was at MGM. And, with Helen Ferguson representing, they were pretty much guaranteed to be photographed all. the. time. Helen was a genius rep, and there’s a reason, on top of their own talents, why most of her clients are legends, to this day.
Back to the subject at hand. Movie people, back then, were usually photographed by pros. It was just a given that what the world saw was going to be done right. But just so everyone knows that, yes, Jeanette and Gene were real people, here are a few true candids, not taken by the pros.
So, there we have it. Yeah, there are a LOT of pictures of Jeanette and Gene, just like there are lots of photos of other couples that, unlike them, didn’t stand the test of time. Thankfully for all of us, people are more willing to share them, these days. Kind of funny that I noted that on this blog, last year… Perhaps I shouldn’t assume that anyone would try to explain away my joy as invalid, though.
(As a side note, can anyone tell me why there are so many magazines with Ann Blyth, on the cover? I feel like that’s a bigger mystery.)
A billion thank yous to my comrades, especially Juniper Jones, Mary Blake, Tony Gateston, and Bill Chandler (now everyone guess who you are!) for the photos and the continued support. I only hope that I’m doing everyone’s feelings justice.