The Case Of The Diva’s Devotees 9.28.15

IMDG1If we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything.

The above quote is often attributed to Irene Dunne. While she certainly helped popularize it by saying it on a radio show, in 1945, she didn’t invent the saying. The best we can accurately state is that it is a modern proverb of unknown origin, made famous by Irene Dunne. There is proof, recorded, that she did say it (Town Meeting Of The Air, May 1945), but the evidence found of the basics of the quote date back to at least 1926 (Source: Any researcher, reporter, or biographer worth his or her salt would have to agree on that, and would not report it as a Mrs. Griffin original.

There is a problem, on our hands, my dear readers. It seems that an unrecorded quote and an unprovable incident have been attributed to Irene Dunne. Now, allow me to state a few simple guidelines I have for this Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy debacle.

Guideline #1: Absolutely do not make any attempt to prove Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy had an affair, using Kathyn Grayson as a source or defense.

Guideline #2: Do not attempt to rationalize the idea of multiple hidden  MacDonald pregnancies by appropriating the story of Loretta Young and Judy Lewis. That was their story, an isolated one, and you will not use their names for your personal grasp at fame.

Guideline #3: Any use of Irene Dunne for the purpose of defending the supposed affair will be met with, as one fan stated, Irene’s fans going from “Pollyanna to Turbo Bitch.” In other words, Don’t f**k with Mrs. Griffin.


Mrs. Griffin will mess you up.

Alas, here we are, today, because Guideline #3 was not adhered to. The following is the “off the record” quote, as attributed to Irene Dunne in the celebrity quotes section of Sharon Rich’s Sweethearts: “Yes dear, it’s true, but I don’t think the public needs to know.”

There is just so much wrong with that. I’ve come to the conclusion that, since a new Jeanette was invented for the purpose of this “biography,” then no one bothered to look up the history and legacy of the folks who knew Jeanette, either.

Irene, famously, didn’t even like talking about herself. She was, however, quick to correct anyone who asked her a direct question about something untrue. When asked by a reporter about her lawyer father having been terribly disappointed in her becoming an actress, because he had dreams of her becoming a lawyer, herself, she casually answered that, “in the first place, he [her father] wasn’t a lawyer, and in the second place, both her parents had encouraged her to become an opera singer. And were there any more questions?” (The Star Machine, Jeanine Basinger, p344) Irene had no qualms shutting people down, with grace and dignity.

Frank and Irene, clearly wondering what kind of fork-ery this is.

Frank and Irene, clearly wondering what kind of fork-ery this is.

Then there, too, had been questions regarding Irene’s own marriage, which she never publicly addressed. She had married New York dentist Dr. Francis Griffin, in 1927 (or possibly 1928, as is also reported). Initially, she kept the marriage to herself. It wasn’t, according to her, that she wanted to keep a secret- rather, she didn’t want to embarrass him, a doctor in a very conservative profession. For some time, during her early years in Hollywood, Dr. Griffin lived in New York City, maintaining his dental practice, while Mrs. Griffin lived in Southern California. The only time the news hounds ever tried to make “good copy” out of her life was regarding this. After making a mad dash from one coast to the other, upon hearing Dr. Griffin had been rushed to the hospital, the papers decided that she had actually gone to seek a divorce. Mrs. Griffin, being the delightful lady she was, read each item to her husband, in recovery, laughing and entertaining him the whole time (Modern Screen, August 1935). In the end, after years of their marriage being the subject of gossip, it was Dr. Griffin who would issue a statement, not Irene.

So, I must ask, why would anyone dare to attribute a comment about a friend’s relationship, to Irene, when she wouldn’t even give merit enough to speculations on her own to comment on the negative? Well, the answer to that is quite simple. It’s the need for absolute reliability, which comes along with her name. As I’ve discussed before regarding other stars, her family has no recourse, now, for any supposed quote, such as this one, that did not come from her. I’ve even said, myself, “Prove Irene Dunne said it happened, and I’ll believe you.” Still, “off the record” and with absolutely no hard evidence, all this is is a clear cut smear campaign designed to use Irene’s flawless legacy for the support of an obvious falsehood.

Also attributed to Irene is the arrangement of an apartment for Jeanette and Nelson to have intimate visits in, in the mid-1950’s, in NYC. Like… this is my heavy sigh area… do you even understand the degree to which that is altogether absurd? It really ranges around Zombie Kipling. This is, of course, much worse for Irene’s reputation than the quote! It is definite hypocrisy, and Irene Dunne is being accused of it. That is inexcusable, and honestly, I don’t care who is with me, I demand an apology for it. There is ABSOLUTELY ZERO evidence of this, and it never should have been printed. Further than any other Lady of Hollywood, tampering with Irene Dunne’s legacy should be outright criminal. Why am I talking about it, then? It is, to be quite frank with you, because I need more of Irene Dunne’s fans to know that Sharon Rich is deliberately throwing Irene Dunne under a bus, for her own financial gain, no matter how big or small. That is what we are dealing with, here. A self professed biographer, with no evidence, is tearing at the one lady who all of Hollywood and nearly every fan of old Hollywood holds with the highest regard. Irene Dunne gave us every reason to respect her, lived a full and honest life, and one person, with her group of almost cult-like groupies, is aiming to tarnish that.

To go back to the beginning- while it’s not a quote we can say she invented, it is one that Irene Dunne certainly said and lived by.

If we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything.

Irene Dunne takes a picture of the MacRaymonds, at a party given by the Harold Lloyds.

Irene Dunne takes a picture of the MacRaymonds, at a party given by the Harold Lloyds.


7 thoughts on “The Case Of The Diva’s Devotees 9.28.15

  1. If anyone even spoke to Irene Dunne, they apparently don’t know the definition of “Off the record.” Off the record: “not made as an official or attributable statement. Synonyms: unofficial, confidential, in (strict) confidence, not to be made public.” This does not mean it’s OK to quote a source once he or she is dead or make up quotes and attribute them to the source. And isn’t it curious how none of the famous sources were quoted until after they were dead? Blossom Rock, Rouben Mamoulian, Van Johnson, Ruth Mannix Van Dyke…

    • The Van Johnson stories are especially of interest, to me, as the source seems to keep changing. On one hand, there is a person saying that he’s on video, and the video was shown at a meeting. Then, on the other, it was just that a fan reported a story that was told to her. Way-ell, there’s a simple way of solving this, and all it takes is a VCR or DVD player and a $20 converter cable!
      As to Irene, even when I asked Chris Lewis if she was funny off screen, too, his reply totally backed up everything we know. It was so simple, but like… it was Irene. “She was a serious person. She was… Aunt Irene!” I’ve read stories from relatives, heard that from (I think I have this right) Frank’s godson, and they all support Irene being a classy, down to earth, no BS Lady. To put words and actions like this in her mouth is just nutty bonkers!

  2. Obviously, there are quite a few people who stand for nothing and, therefore, fall for anything. Sharon Rich’s disciples greatly enjoy the wallow in the scandal and slander because they CHOOSE not to believe what Jeanette said about her life while she lived. They don’t give a single thought to what they’re doing to Jeanette’s reputation if Rich’s tales are nothing but the nasty fantasies that we know them to be..

    I recently saw a comment that there is more to be “uncovered”. How interesting. How many people who actually knew Jeanette and spoke “off the record” to Rich are actually still alive? Surely she must be running out of people. Or, perhaps, the flies on the walls of Jeanette’s and Nelson’s little secret hiding places have been reincarnated as people…actual people who don;t necessarily have to pass to another life before being quoted. I mean that could actually be a thing. And, of course, there’s always ‘she knew someone that knew someone that knew another someone…’ There’s a never ending source of information for an ‘author’ who wants to live comfortably off one damn book for the rest of her life..

    And, thanks, Kayla, for laying down your rules. Using Loretta’s story the way she did on the MacEddy website some time back was inexcusable. Not to mention what the person who supposedly quoted Irene is doing to her memory. You see, when you slander Jeanette, you also slander ALL of the people that you claim told you things, starting with Jeanette’s sister, Blossom. It’s a never ending slander circle and there are some of us who are going to fight you every step of the way, So hang on, MacEddy minions!.

    To my friends, excuse my sarcasm. To the MacEddy minions who may read this bog, I offer no apologies for my thoughts!

  3. And lest we forget the damage done to Nelson, a man who “just wanted to live a good life gracefully,” who has been turned into an irrational rapist in order to “show his flaws” and be made ” human.” Geez, I would rather that he had remained an obscure footnote in Hollywood history!

  4. I have to say that I completely agree with jobeth 123’s comment about Nelson. I’m much more a fan of Jeanette’s but, apparently, Nelson was a decent guy who DID want to live a quiet life and use his wonderful voice to bring joy to others.

    I would also apply jobeth’s comment about Nelson to Jeanette. We would all be missing a lot if we’d never known about her. But, I would rather she, too, be a footnote in Hollywood history than to be slandered as she has been by Sharon Rich. To be accused of an extra-marital affair by people who worship at the altar of said affair, who meet and go over and over ridiculous fantasies about people who passed away half a century ago is creepy and pretty darn silly…. Jeanette would not appreciate it and neither would Nelson.

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