The Case Of The Diva’s Devotees (Part 4)

To begin, as a follow up to the tirade I went on a few days ago (see Furious Fangirl), I encourage everyone to read the response, posted by Sharon Rich, on her website. ( In it, she seems to defend the supposed rape and, in essence, rape culture, by explaining some basics to us- what rape was, then, is just rough sex, now. This is according to “grandmothers.” NE had a temper, according to the post, and this was Jeanette’s introduction to it. Wow, really shot me down, right? A woman saying no, and a man forcing sex upon her is just rough sex. Duly noted, and in the days to come, I am so glad that I will be able to examine this absolutely unacceptable, reprehensible justification of the sexual abuse of women. In the mean time, while you all read through that oh so encouraging post about why we need feminism, may I remind you that a Well Known Actor once tried to sexually assault Norma Shearer. Her husband, Irving Thalberg, made no small effort to take him to task, for it. People knew when something was wrong, in the 1930’s. Times may have changed, we may have shifted away from blaming victims and justifying actions of rapists (or, in this case, perhaps not), but rape has always been a foul display of one person taking advantage of another, through means of assaulting them in a sexual manner. Now, on to other things…

January/February, 1941.

Today, we’re going to play a little game called “Where’s Jeanette?” It is said that she may have canceled concerts with feigned illness, missed trains, etc, in order to have a rendezvous with Nelson Eddy, in early 1941. The following is a brief timeline of events, sourced from newspapers and magazines, to give an idea of where she was and what her doctors were telling her. Also included are telegrams from and to Gene Raymond, hoping for her illness to subside fully.

Jeanette held a press conference in Columbus, OH prior to her January 18 concert. An article in the Citizen talked about Jeanette protecting herself against the flu by keeping windows closed during the press conference to avoid a draft and wearing galoshes to keep her feet dry. When Russ Bovin, manager of Loew’s Ohio, mentioned he had the flu a week earlier, he was kept at a distance. The article noted she had come through “flu country,” singing in Memphis and Louisville prior to Columbus.  (“Jeanette’s Enjoying This Tour: Soprano Dodges Nasty Flu Germs Here – Wants Perfect Voice for Tonight’s Concert” by George Hage, Columbus Citizen, Columbus, OH, January 18, 1941.)

Jeanette arrived in Pittsburgh, PA on the morning of January 21, 1941, after having a “fluttery stomach” on the train. She attributed it to a rough ride. (“Ready Gentlemen?  Jeanette Wants You to Swoon,” Sun-Telegraph, Pittsburgh, PA, January 21, 1941.) She held a press conference at the Hotel Schenley, but cancelled a reception in her honor at the Twentieth Century Club that afternoon because she wasn’t feeling well. During the press conference, her concert manager Charles Wagner mentioned that she was sick on the train the night before, and he and Jeanette’s maid insisted that she sit next to the radiator because it was warmer.  She was pictured with her coat draped over her shoulders. (“Reporters Cluster Round, Miss MacDonald Smiles,” Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Pittsburgh, PA, January 22, 1941). Feeling worse the next day, she cancelled her concert at Pittsburgh’s Syria Mosque (January 23, 1941) because of a sore throat.  It was rescheduled for February 24.

IMG_8045 IMG_8044It is in here that Jeanette missed a train and arrived a day late to Roanoke, VA. As soon as I have a source file, I will update. Remember, it could have been any of a number of things that happened, from a delayed train from Pittsburgh and on. It is in this time span, where the notion is entertained that Jeanette had already left Pittsburgh before cancelling her concert, officially, and spent some time in Washington D.C. with Nelson Eddy. The idea of her having been “trapped under a baritone” is floated, as reasoning for her missing her train.

On January 25, 1941 Jeanette performed the concert at Roanoke Auditorium, Roanoke, VA. A review noted, “A real trouper, too, is Mrs. Gene Raymond. The beginnings of a cold plus a dash of National Guard lachrymator, couldn’t discourage her from giving an A-1 recital.”  (“Not That It Matters” by Candida, World News, Roanoke, VA, January 28, 1941.) Another review mentioned the tear gas, but not the cold.  (“Miss MacDonald Pleases Record Concert Crowd” by C.N. Snead, The Times, Roanoke, VA, January 26, 1941.) Harrison Carroll reported, “Funniest incident of Jeanette MacDonald’s concert tour happened in Roanoke, Va.  She sang in an armory where a quantity of tear gas had escaped earlier in the day, enough clung to carpeting, etc., that both the star and her audience were dabbing at their eyes all through the concert.”  (Harrison Carroll’s column, Los Angeles Evening Herald Express, February 4, 1941.) So she had a cold or flu in Pittsburgh and was sick enough to postpone a concert, pushed herself to perform in Roanoke, then inhaled tear gas for a couple of hours.


Jeanette arrives in Roanoke, VA



1/27/1941 [Omaha World-Herald] MacDonald Ordered to Postpone Concert
Roanoke, Va., Jan. 26—Jeanette MacDonald, soprano singing star suffering from a severe cold, was ordered by a physician today to postpone a concert appearance in Asheville, N.C., Tuesday night and go to Florida for several days’ rest.
She was able to appear here last night after postponing an engagement Thursday at Pittsburgh because of a sore throat.

Jeanette wired Gene after the Roanoke concert on January 25, 1941 “Everything went nicely though I felt terribly tired think some fresh air tomorrow will do me good so pray for sunshine am having pineapple sherbet feels good on my throat.”

The PPP is in reference to a Penny Pinching redecorating matter, at Twin Gables.

The PPP is in reference to a Penny Pinching redecorating matter, at Twin Gables.

Instead of going to Miami from Roanoke, Jeanette went on to Orlando, where her next concert was scheduled.  Gene sent her a telegram on January 27, 1941 at the Colonial Orange Court Hotel in Orlando in care of her concert manager Charles Wagner.  “Hope you get lots of sun, rest, and health.  My best to Mr. and Mrs. M.” (We are still investigating who Mr. and Mrs. M are, though they could be any number of Jeanette’s friends who often visited Florida. While not definite, there is a possibility of her having stayed with friends, away from the hotel, to get a real rest. Obviously, as is apparent by the many interviews given throughout the tour, she was in very high demand.)


On January 28 Jeanette wired from Orlando, “No sunshine” and signed it “Ima Jinx.”  Gene wired again on January 29: “Sorry you found no sun. Let’s pack up and go to Arizona. Hope you are feeling better and getting rest.” (Arizona was a joke, as that’s where they went for sun in March 1938. When they got off the train, it was snowing!)



Jeanette resumed her tour on January 31, 1941, with a concert at the Municipal Auditorium in Orlando, FL. After the concert, she went to Miami, spending the night at the Miami Biltmore on February 1.  Reporter Marguerite L. Browne followed her to Miami, noting that Jeanette refused all interviews in Orlando and retired to the Miami Biltmore after her Orlando concert because of an irritated throat. On February 2, Jeanette granted an interview to Browne, then flew to Havana for a concert. (“Girl Editor of Weekly Trails Star To Miami, Gets Exclusive Interview” by Marguerite L. Browne, World News, Miami, FL, February 1941.)

IMG_8049 IMG_8050 IMG_80522/4/1941 LAT Edwin Schallert
Gene Raymond is to meet Jeanette MacDonald Feb. 20 in New York. She has obtained an extension of time from MGM to appear in Pittsburgh and Nashville [Note: We can only assume that this was supposed to mean Asheville, NC], where she had to cancel concerts due to illness.

The last scheduled concert was February 16 at Municipal Auditorium in New Orleans, LA. From there, Jeanette planned to meet Gene in New York for two radio appearances (Campbell Playhouse on February 21 and The Pause that Refreshes on the Air on March 2.) She did the February 21 broadcast, then returned to Pittsburgh for her rescheduled concert at the Syria Mosque on February 24.  Then it was back to New York for the March 2 broadcast. Gene accompanied her to Asheville on March 3.  She performed the rescheduled Asheville concert at the Auditorium on March 4.  On March 5, Jeanette and Gene headed back to California.

As you see, all along this tour, it is noted by reporters, doctors, and her tour manager that she is fighting illness. We all know that Jeanette tried her best to perform, even in sickness, and she noted her ability to sing well, even when suffering with allergies and colds. For her, her tour manager, the press, and Gene Raymond to have created this elaborate ruse, starting in Memphis with Flu Country and ending with telegrams, in Florida, seems highly improbable.

Stay tuned, as soon we’ll be playing a game of Where’s Nelson? More thanks to everyone for their hard work and support. And thanks for making me read things that make me mad, because that only makes me want to fight harder. Also, FANGIRL FREAKOUT ON THOSE TELEGRAMS HOW CUTE WERE THE MACRAYMONDS SERIOUSLY CAN I JUST PASS OUT NOW.


2 thoughts on “The Case Of The Diva’s Devotees (Part 4)

  1. Well, once again, our friendly neighborhood sleuth and her cohorts deserve a big thanks with a bow tied around it! You have shown ample evidence that this very professional lady was not “trapped under a baritone” when she missed scheduled concerts. For the love of all that’s sensible, the woman was a trooper when the remains of tear gas were attacking her. Someone so committed to her fans and so professional does not cancel concerts for a clandestine meeting with her (fictitious) ‘lover’. In the first newspaper clipping, it’s obvious (even though the clipping is grainy) that Jeanette is not well. Her eyes look ‘glassy’ like mine do when I have a cold or a sinus infection.

    The other clippings as to her whereabouts and her illness add to tangible evidence. And those telegrams! I love the way Jeanette and Gene communicate with each other, the cute little nicknames they sign with and the references they make to past experiences (Arizona).

    Thanks, again!

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