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Jeanette MacDonald

Jeanette MacDonald

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Also Known As: Jeanette Anna Macdonald Died: January 14, 1965
Born: June 18, 1903 Cause of Death: heart attack following abdominal adhesions
Birth Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Profession: actor, singer, chorus girl, model

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A gifted, vivacious Broadway soprano, the red-haired Jeanette MacDonald entered films in 1929 under the auspices of Ernst Lubitsch at Paramount and showed a flair for sophisticated comedy in a number of his spicy Continental musicals, especially opposite Maurice Chevalier. In such films as "The Love Parade" (1929), "Oh, For a Man" (1930) and "One Hour With You" (1932), MacDonald was typically cast as girlish but aristocratic types who display a surprising aptitude for risque banter when the occasion demands. Her best film from this early period was Rouben Mamoulian's superb "Love Me Tonight" (1932), opposite Chevalier.Moving to MGM in 1934, MacDonald reached a personal zenith in the title role of Lubitsch's saucy "The Merry Widow" (1934), but soon began playing more genteel if similarly princessy roles, in accordance with the stricter enforcement of Hollywood's self-imposed Production Code. She enjoyed considerable popular and critical acclaim with the delightful "Naughty Marietta" (1935), the first in a series of romantic operettas co-starring the handsome baritone Nelson Eddy. Mostly directed by W.S. Van Dyke, these films turned the couple into Hollywood's most popular singing team ever. Their best...

A gifted, vivacious Broadway soprano, the red-haired Jeanette MacDonald entered films in 1929 under the auspices of Ernst Lubitsch at Paramount and showed a flair for sophisticated comedy in a number of his spicy Continental musicals, especially opposite Maurice Chevalier. In such films as "The Love Parade" (1929), "Oh, For a Man" (1930) and "One Hour With You" (1932), MacDonald was typically cast as girlish but aristocratic types who display a surprising aptitude for risque banter when the occasion demands. Her best film from this early period was Rouben Mamoulian's superb "Love Me Tonight" (1932), opposite Chevalier.

Moving to MGM in 1934, MacDonald reached a personal zenith in the title role of Lubitsch's saucy "The Merry Widow" (1934), but soon began playing more genteel if similarly princessy roles, in accordance with the stricter enforcement of Hollywood's self-imposed Production Code. She enjoyed considerable popular and critical acclaim with the delightful "Naughty Marietta" (1935), the first in a series of romantic operettas co-starring the handsome baritone Nelson Eddy. Mostly directed by W.S. Van Dyke, these films turned the couple into Hollywood's most popular singing team ever. Their best films together include the romantic valentine "Maytime" (1937) and the robust "Rose Marie" (1936), which featured the famous "Indian Love Call" so often parodied in later years. Later films, however, suffered from being overly schmaltzy or overproduced, and the team's popularity declined abruptly in the early 40s.

MacDonald also played in a number of enjoyable films sans Eddy while at MGM, including the lilting musical melodrama "The Firefly" (1937) with Allan Jones, and the memorable recreation of the Barbary Coast days of "San Francisco" (1936) just before the legendary 1906 earthquake. Famous for her powerful "high C", MacDonald turned to a successful concert hall career during the WWII years as her screen stardom waned but made occasional screen appearances through the late 40s. She married actor Gene Raymond in 1937 and the two later acted together onscreen in the third version of "Smilin' Through" in 1941. MacDonald's sister was character actress Marie Blake, who played the switchboard operator in the famous "Dr. Kildare" series of the 30s and 40s and later resurfaced under the name of Blossom Rock as the grandmother on the TV sitcom, "The Addams Family" (1964-66).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 The Sun Comes Up (1949) Helen Lorfield Winter
2.
 Three Daring Daughters (1948) Louise Rayton Morgan
3.
 Follow the Boys (1944)
4.
 Cairo (1942) Marcia Warren
5.
 I Married an Angel (1942) Anna [Zador]/Brigitta
6.
 Smilin' Through (1941) Kathleen/Moonyean Clare
7.
 Bitter Sweet (1940) Sarah Millick
8.
 New Moon (1940) Marianne de Beaumanoir
9.
 Broadway Serenade (1939) Mary Hale
10.
 The Girl of the Golden West (1938) Mary Robbins
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Made first stage appearance (unexpectedly) at age 3; recited "Old Mother Hubbard"
1921:
Broadway debut as chorus girl in "The Night Boat"
:
Appeared in a number of Broadway musicals during the 1920s, including "The Magic Ring", "Yes, Yes, Yvette", "Tip Toes", "Boom Boom", "Bubbling Over", "Sunny Days", and "Angela"
:
Reportedly seen by Paramount film star Richard Dix, who asked the studio to give her a screen test
1928:
Made unsuccessful Paramount screen test
:
Signed contract with Paramount after Ernst Lubitsch saw the screen test
1929:
Made film debut opposite Maurice Chevalier in Lubitsch's "The Love Parade"
1931:
Journeyed to Europe to give concerts in Paris and London to dispel rumor that she had been killed by the irate wife of a prince with whom MacDonald was supposedly having an affair and that her "twin sister" had taken over her screen career
1932:
Made last film at Paramount, "Love Me Tonight", opposite Chevalier
1932:
Set sail for Europe in December to give more extended concert tour
1933:
Signed contract with MGM
1934:
Last of 4 films opposite Chevalier, Lubitsch's "The Merry Widow"
1935:
First film opposite Nelson Eddy, "Naughty Marietta"
1936:
Appeared in most successful MGM film sans Eddy, "San Francisco"; that same year MacDonald made motion pictures exhibitors' poll of top ten boxoffice stars, placing 8th
1941:
Starred in "Smilin' Through" opposite her husband, Gene Raymond
1942:
Last of 8 films opposite Eddy, "I Married an Angel"
1942:
Final film under MGM contract, "Cairo"
1943:
Made opera debut in Montreal in "Romeo and Juliet" opposite Ezio Pinza
:
Appeared mostly in concert tours, opera and on radio during 1940s; also kept busy with war benefits and charity performances
1945:
Set a concert attendance record at the Hollywood Bowl
1948:
Returned to film after four-year absence in "Three Daring Daughters"
1949:
Last film appearance, opposite Claude Jarman Jr. and Lassie, in "The Sun Comes Up"
1959:
Collapsed while watching husband Gene Raymond performing in a play; rushed to hospital with appendicitis; later developed hepatitis
1963:
Had arterial transplant performed
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Washington Irving High School: New York , New York -
Julia Richman High School: New York , New York -

Notes

A number of sources gives MacDonald's year of birth as 1901 or 1902; MGM press releases and even MacDonald's tombstone give the year 1907.

Billed as 'the girl with the red-gold hair and sea-green eyes' on Broadway, and sometimes known for her strong will as the 'Iron Butterfly' in Hollywood circles

"Whether MacDonald starred with Maurice Chevalier or Nelson Eddy, she generally played a rich, spoiled, and sophisticated woman who eventually came to her senses and fell in love with the poor but charmingly sincere hero. It was a formula that worked because MacDonald, with her soprano voice and high-toned style, played female aristocrats convincingly." --Scott Siegel and Barbara Siegel ("The Encyclopedia of Hollywood", 1990)

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Robert Ritchie. Manager. At one time were engaged; MacDonald broke it off because of his womanizing.
husband:
Gene Raymond. Actor. Married born on August 13, 1908; married on June 16, 1937 survived her; had no children; married the former Mrs. Bentley Hees on September 8, 1974; Raymond's mother did not attend his wedding because MacDonald was more than five years older than her husband and Raymond's mother considered her a "cradle snatcher"; died on May 3, 1998.

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Anna M MacDonald.
father:
Daniel MacDonald. Businessman.
sister:
Elsie MacDonald Scheiter. Born c. 1896; died on October 2, 1970.
sister:
Marie Blake. Actor. Born in 1899; died in 1978; married to Warren Rock with whom she toured in vaudeville; perhaps best remembered as Sally the switchboard operator in the long-running "Dr. Kildare" series of films and (billed as Blossom Rock) as Grandmama in "The Addams Family" on television.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"The Films of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy"
"Farewell to Dreams"
"The Jeanette MacDonald Story" Mason-Charter
"The Complete Films of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy"
"Jeanette MacDonald" Pyramid Books
"Sweethearts: The Timeless Love Affair On-Screen and Off Between Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy Donald I. Fine, Inc.
"Hollywood Diva: A Biography of Jeanette MacDonald" University of California Press
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

Contributions

TheTownTart ( 2010-05-07 )

Source: not available

COMPANION: Nelson Eddy. Singer, actor. Reportedly had an on-again, off-again relationship.

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