The Case Of The Diva’s Devotees 8.24.15

Today, we take another journey through those fascinating and informative Isabel Letters, which is the support of a great bulk of Sharon Rich’s Sweethearts, along with a fiction book called Farewell To Dreams and anonymous sources. (And that is my “nasty” factoid of the day.) In this letter, said to be from September 16th, 1945, there is the story of July 1945.

It is claimed that, while Jeanette was in Cincinnati, singing Romeo et Juliette and Faust, Nelson flew out from California to meet her there, then travel on with her to Philadelphia. There, when her July 19th concert at Robin Hood Dell was cancelled due to rain, Jeanette spent the evening with her sister, Elsie, while Nelson went to a nightclub with Collins Smith, Jeanette’s accompanist and Barney Scheiter, Elsie’s husband.

When the show was finally able to go on, Rich says fans from the New York chapter of Glenna Riley’s fan club reported that no fans were allowed back stage, though some did manage to get back, anyway. They did not report seeing Nelson in the audience.

*cracks knuckles* Shall we?

IMG_8436The above image is a letter from Anna MacDonald to Glenna Riley, published in the September/October 1945 issue of Musical Echoes. As you can see, she talks about a birthday party which Jeanette and Elsie were throwing for Blossom (birthday August 21st). But wait- what is that date she casually throws in? Elsie arrived in California on July 3rd? Whaaaaat? Goodbye, that part of the Isabel Letter, Anna just proved you completely incorrect.

barneymilitaryHere, we have an incredibly brief record of Bernard (Barney) Scheiter’s Army service. While it is, indeed, possible that Barney was on leave, in July, he was not released until October 17th. Not to mention, if Elsie was in California and Rich also states that Blossom was the only MacDonald family member that liked Nelson, why would Barney fly home and hang out with someone he disliked? Bye, nightclub story!

And, finally, here is what actually, legitimately happened, in Philadelphia, as reported to me. 🙂

There was a report from someone who attended the Dell concert in the Fall 1945 issue of The Golden Comet. The beginning is somewhat vague, but I gather this person arrived in Philadelphia July 18, 1945 with a friend. However it’s possible they arrived early on July 19. They ran into Jeanette on the elevator at the hotel and they were so flustered they missed their floor. Jeanette and Emily invited the fans to their suite to chat. If Nelson were in town and they were having an affair, why would Jeanette be hanging out with fans? Also, if Nelson had an apartment that he and Jeanette used in Philadelphia, as Rich has said, why was Jeanette staying at a hotel? The article goes on to talk about a lot of fans arriving on July 19, and that the weather was bad. They all went to the Dell, only to have the show postponed. Back at the hotel they ran into Collins, who chatted with them. Then Jeanette and Emily invited the fans to their suite because Jeanette felt bad that some could not stay another day for the postponed show. The talk of course turned to ice cream, as it always did when Jeanette was around. So the whole troop (Jeanette, Emily, and the fans) went to Michael’s in West Philadelphia for ice cream. At some point Jeanette gave a concert for wounded veterans at Philadelphia Naval Hospital (“Rain Postpones Dell Concert,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 20, 1945).

Continuing the fans’ report from The Comet, the concert was July 20. There was a crowd trying to get backstage and thanks to Emily they got back. No mention of Jeanette’s relatives, but if it was that crowded, the fans reporting may not have met them. I know Aunt Sally but darned if I can find an Aunt Margaret on either side of the family. There was a Margaret Wright who was married to Anna’s brother Charles’ son Edward, but at best she could be called Jeanette’s cousin. In a letter dated September 20, 1945, Emily told Marion Glendening it was nice to briefly meet her while they were in Philadelphia and commented on how hectic it was, presumably backstage.

My enduring thanks to the supporters of this project! You’re all the best!

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2 thoughts on “The Case Of The Diva’s Devotees 8.24.15

  1. So the “Isabel letters” were wrong about Christmas 1945 and Jeanette and Nelson meeting in Tahoe in October of 1943 and in Philadelphia in the summer of 1945. (Not to mention the conversation quoted in Cincinnati where Isabel would have had to be hiding in the closet or under John Brownlee’s dressing table!) Were they right about anything? For that matter, do they even exist? Isn’t it strange that they’re used as a source so liberally but none of them have been posted online or published in their entirety?

  2. Thanks, once again, Kayla. My question is this: Have these mysterious letters ever been shown In Isabel Eddy’s actual handwriting?? Or, are they ‘he said, she said’?? If they’ve been wrong about the things that have, thus far, been disproved, what’s the problem? Do they even exist? My guess is that they don’t.

    I saw a comment under a YouTube video some time ago and the individual commenting was recommending Sweethearts as a great read for those who were disappointed that they each married someone else. My first thought was…”So that’s why it’s so easy to convince people that there was an affair. It’s what they WANT to believe.” My next thought was, “What right does anyone have to be disappointed that Jeanette and Nelson did not marry each other?” Their lives belonged to THEM to live as THEY chose, not as some fanatical fans chose for them. They did not marry each other and you cannot rewrite history. Get over it!

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