The Case Of The Diva’s Devotees 10.12.15

Much to-do and speculation has been made, via our old reliable book Sweethearts, about the reason for Gene Raymond’s two year absence from the screen. According to Sharon Rich, it was because of an arrest incident, in January 1938. Why isn’t this on his record? Oh, naturally because Sandy Reiss said that Jeanette MacDonald paid the department $1000 in hush money, and MGM had the record fixed by changing the name from Mr. to Miss Gene Raymond. Mr. Mayer would then have Gene “blacklisted all over town for nearly two years.”

Mmkhey. Stolen Heaven, with Gene and “new star” Olympe, began filming in late December, 1937, and went on in to February of 1938. It was released on May 13, 1938, after which Gene embarked on a series of personal appearance tours. Now, pardon me, but those personal appearances were set up by the studio, which was in town, so… I’m confused at the contradiction presented, there. Gene’s supposed arrest was in January, he was still working, in February, and with the same two hands used to type that Mr. Mayer blacklisted Gene, Rich goes ahead and tells us that, well, he was still working. For Paramount.

So he does his personal appearance tour, which was noted in multiple magazines and papers. He turned down a contract because he wasn’t getting the types of roles he wanted. He decided to focus on music, which he did. The result of which can be seen in the December 1939 publication of his original song, Let Me Always Sing. (G. Schirmer) For those clever souls out there reading, saying to yourselves, “Well, that’s still over a year…” then please remember that writing music isn’t what Ann Sothern and Robert Young would have you believe it is, in Lady Be Good. You don’t just sit down with a phrase and have a hit on your hands 30 seconds later. I’m not saying that one single song took that long to write, but when one wants to go public with a thing, one wants to make sure one knows what one is doing, first. So, he’s working on music, no big deal. Jeanette encourages her stubborn husband every step of the way, because she’s a glorious human being and wife, and according to the accounts upon his comeback (various magazines, including the 1941 Photoplay that I have attached below), she was just glad that he learned the lesson he needed to learn, on his own. He wasn’t as foolishly stubborn about his career as before, and RKO welcomed him back with a contract offer, upon the success of his return picture, Cross-Country Romance. That began filming in April 1940, and was released in July.

The many discrepancies, not to mention contradictions, are obvious. Why would Mr. Mayer wait until at least the summer of 1938 to blacklist Gene? Actually, why would he blacklist him at all, if that would only make it known that the marriage of “his pet” to Gene Raymond was a fraud? The timeline is off, too, as we know that Gene was working professionally with G. Schirmer, to publish his song; it simply wasn’t in the movie profession. Shock, awe, movie people can do more than act. Granted, that’s a New York publishing house, but by God, they had phones, and Nicholas Schenck’s office was right there! I have no idea how long it takes to negotiate the publication of a piece of music, but even still, 24-16=8, which is 8 months short of two years, which is not nearly two years, but closer to a little over one year. Hooray for math, for it is your friend. Then we go from December 1939 to April 1940, which is way, way less than almost two years.


Photoplay1941p1 Photoplay1941p2

As a post script, today, I want to thank the people who have stuck by these efforts, whether I’ve been so busy that I feel like I might explode, and can only post a picture, or have actual time to pour into 1000+ words, in a post.


4 thoughts on “The Case Of The Diva’s Devotees 10.12.15

  1. I’ve always found it puzzling how the head of MGM could blacklist someone at another studio.

    For whatever it’s worth, Gene’s personal appearance tour included dates in New York and Chicago in May 1938, following a vacation with Jeanette that began March 26, 1938. She returned to CA about two weeks before him so she could begin work on Sweethearts. She left New York the day after his opening so presumably she attended. Gene returned to CA on May 27 or 29 (sources disagree).

    Gene wrote “Let Me Always Sing” while Jeanette was on her 1939 concert tour. Somewhere I have an article about what he said when he sent it to her, but I’m too tired to look for it. If I remember correctly, he told her that he wouldn’t be offended if she didn’t like it. His previous composing efforts had been popular, not classical. Jeanette’s first public performance of the song was in Peoria, IL on April 17, 1939. Gene received word that Schirmer accepted “Let Me Always Sing” on April 29, 1939, When he sent Jeanette a wire with the news, he called her “the best doggoned song plugger.” She recorded the song in the fall of 1939.

    Schirmer accepted “Release” in 1940, but it took them three years to publish it. In a letter to Jeanette written when he was overseas serving in WWII, Gene even joked about how long it took them to publish anything.

    Bottom line: Gene “wasn’t working” from June 1938 to (at latest) early April 1939. Way less than two years..

  2. I feel that you do not need to apologize. Whatever evidence you put out there is one more brick in support of the honor of several special people who can no longer defend themselves. Just be proud of all you do. 🙂

  3. “AND IT ALSO DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.” Does ANYTHING about Sweethearts make sense?? Is anything in it true except that Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy made eight movies together??

    These tales are enough to make your head spin! Just thinking about it makes me tired as heck! As a mutual friend of ours said to me (when I called Rich’s tales convoluted and confusing), “if you make things confusing enough people think it must be true because nobody could make that stuff up.” And, as YOU said on a Facebook page, “It’s like throwing pasta at a wall and seeing what sticks.” Ummm…pretty much….

    That’s Sweethearts…a maze that gullible people get lost in, NEVER to find their way out….

  4. Another question needing to be raised is why would Mr. Mayer hire Gene to co-star with his wife in “Smilin’ Through” if there were any validity to the wild imaginings put forth by “That Book”!!! Individuals were barred from the Metro lot for much less.

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