Jeanette Macdonald


Actor, Singer
Jeanette Macdonald

About

Also Known As
Jeanette Anna Macdonald
Birth Place
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Born
June 18, 1903
Died
January 14, 1965
Cause of Death
Heart Attack Following Abdominal Adhesions

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 typi...

Photos & Videos

Bitter Sweet - Movie Posters
San Francisco - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
The Merry Widow (1934) - Publicity Stills

Family & Companions

Robert Ritchie
Companion
Manager. At one time were engaged; MacDonald broke it off because of his womanizing.
Gene Raymond
Husband
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.

Bibliography

"Hollywood Diva: A Biography of Jeanette MacDonald"
Edward Baron Turk, University of California Press (1998)
"Sweethearts: The Timeless Love Affair On-Screen and Off Between Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy
Sharon Rich, Donald I. Fine, Inc. (1994)
"The Complete Films of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy"
Philip Castanza (1990)
"Farewell to Dreams"
Diane Goodrich and Sharon Rich (1979)

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

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 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).

Life Events

1921

Broadway debut as chorus girl in "The Night Boat"

1928

Made unsuccessful Paramount 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

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

Photo Collections

Bitter Sweet - Movie Posters
Here are some original release movie posters from Bitter Sweet (1940), starring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.
San Francisco - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's San Francisco (1936), starring Clark gable and Spencer Tracy, and directed by W.S. Van Dyke.
The Merry Widow (1934) - Publicity Stills
The Merry Widow (1934) - Publicity Stills
Love Me Tonight - Publicity Stills
Here are a few publicity stills from Paramount's Love Me Tonight (1932), starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
The Sun Comes Up - Movie Posters
Here are a few original-release movie posters from MGM's The Sun Comes Up (1949) starring Jeanette MacDonald, Claude Jarman, Jr., and Lassie.

Videos

Movie Clip

Rose-Marie (1936) - Romeo And Juliet Opening in a fancy Montreal theater, Jeanette MacDonald as the star Marie de Flor, performing in the French opera Romeo et Juliette by Charles Gounod, Jules Barbier and Marcel Carre, big troubles coming in her personal life, in Rose-Marie, 1936 also starring Nelson Eddy.
New Moon (1940) - Stranger In Paris Opening scene on board a packet from Revolution-era France, introducing Jeanette MacDonald as Marianne (Mary Boland her associate), the ship’s captain (George Irving) requesting a song, with new lyrics from Sigmund Romberg’s 1928 operetta, in New Moon, 1940, MacDonald’s MGM reunion with Nelson Eddy.
New Moon (1940) - Stop "Grace-ing" Me! Sailing from Marseilles to Louisiana, 1789, the snobs on the upper decks have been wondering what’s the noise below, and we discover Nelson Eddy as Charles, an incognito radical nobleman, reprising a Sig Romberg song Jeanette MacDonald just introduced, Stanley Fields, Richard Purcell and William Tannen his posse, in New Moon, 1940.
New Moon (1940) - Wanting You Now in New Orleans, Charles (Nelson Eddy) is the revolutionary nobleman posing as a servant to aristocrat Marianne, (Jeanette MacDonald), who agrees with everyone that he’s way too refined to be plausible, the big song from the Sigmund Romberg/Oscar Hammerstein II operetta ensuing, in MGM’s New Moon, 1940.
Cat And The Fiddle, The (1934) - Music In Exchange For Indigestion Clever opening, Brussels already established, Ramon Novarro is introduced as composer-performer Victor, tangling with the proprietor (Paul Porcasi) and eventually meeting co-star Jeanette MacDonald as visiting American Shirley, in MGM’s version of the Jerome Kern/Otto Harbach Broadway hit, The Cat And The Fiddle, 1934.
Cat And The Fiddle, The (1934) - The Night Was Made For Love Broke and infatuated composer Victor (Ramon Novarro) has crossed a Brussels rooftop pursuing American Shirley (Jeanette MacDonald), herself an aspiring performer, whom he’s just met, leading to a Jerome Kern-Otto Harbach song, then remembering his audition, in MGM’s The Cat And The Fiddle, 1934.
Cat And The Fiddle, The (1934) - She Didn't Say Yes Daffy Brussels music patron Charles (Butterworth) caught a bouquet tossed out by American Shirley (Jeanette MacDonald), who’s both arguing and celebrating a new gig with new friend Victor (Ramon Novarro), whose friends turn up, for a Jerome Kern-Otto Harbach song, in MGM’s The Cat And The Fiddle, 1934.
Sweethearts (1938) - Wooden Shoes After supporting players are introduced in elaborate exposition of the sixth anniversary performance of their Broadway performance, Ray Bolger dances and Jeanette MacDonald sings, Nelson Eddy coming in the next number, in MGM’s Technicolor Sweethearts, 1938, lyrics by Bob Wright and Chet Forrest to the original Victor Herbert tune.
Sweethearts (1938) - Every Lover Must Meet His Fate The second number which introduces Nelson Eddy as Broadway star Ernest Lane, joining Jeanette MacDonald as his wife Gwen Marlowe, in the anniversary performance of their long-running musical hit, new lyrics by Bob Wright and Chet Forrest, to the tune from the Victor Herbert operetta, in Sweethearts, 1938.
Sweethearts (1938) - Pretty As A Picture Frank Morgan is the Broadway producer for musical stars, Ernest Lane and Gwen Marlowe (Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald), now doing a radio show celebrating six years in their hit show, in MGM’s first three-strip Technicolor feature, Sweethearts, 1938.
Girl Of The Golden West, The (1938) - Liebestraum Mary (Jeanette MacDonald) clears the way for the professor (Brandon Tynan) to play in the saloon then joins him in "Liebestraum," to Franz Liszt's melody, in The Girl Of The Golden West, 1938.
Girl Of The Golden West, The (1938) - Senorita Lieutenant Johnson (Nelson Eddy), his secret identity not yet revealed, romances Mary (Jeanette MacDonald) with "Senorita" by Sigmund Romberg and Gus Kahn, in The Girl Of The Golden West, 1938.

Trailer

Rose-Marie (1936) - (Original Trailer) An opera singer goes undercover in the Canadian wilderness to hunt for her criminal brother in Rose Marie (1936) starring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.
Firefly, The - (Original Trailer) A Spanish spy (Jeanette MacDonald) masquerades as a singer to sabotage Napoleon's forces in this MGM adaptation of the Rudolf Friml operetta.
Broadway Serenade - (Original Trailer) Career conflicts threaten the marriage of a singer (Jeanette MacDonald) to a young composer (Lew Ayres) in this MGM musical.
I Married An Angel - (Original Trailer) Some husbands say it but Nelson Eddy means it literally in his final pairing with Jeanette MacDonald, I Married An Angel (1942).
San Francisco - (Re-issue Trailer) A beautiful singer and a battling priest try to reform a Barbary Coast saloon owner in the days before the big earthquake in San Francisco (1936), starring Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy.
Maytime - (Original Trailer) It's Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald with only John Barrymore to keep them apart in the MGM musical Maytime (1937)
Merry Widow, The (1934) - (Re-issue Trailer) A prince (Maurice Chevalier) from a small kingdom courts a wealthy widow to keep her money in the country in Ernst Lubitsch's The Merry Widow (1934).
Naughty Marietta - (Re-issue trailer) A French princess in colonial America gets involved with an Indian scout in the musical, Naughty Marietta (1935).
Sun Comes Up, The - (Original Trailer) Lassie helps Jeanette MacDonald find happiness with an orphaned boy in The Sun Comes Up (1949).
Bitter Sweet - (Original Trailer) Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald sing a forbidden love in Noel Coward's operetta Bitter Sweet (1940).
Girl Of The Golden West, The - (Original Trailer) Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy star in the movie version of the Sigmund Romberg-Gus Kahn musical The Girl Of The Golden West (1938).
Smilin' Through (1941) - (Original Trailer) Future husband-and-wife Gene Raymond and Jeanette McDonald in Smilin' Through (1941), their one film together.

Family

Anna M MacDonald
Mother
Daniel MacDonald
Father
Businessman.
Elsie MacDonald Scheiter
Sister
Born c. 1896; died on October 2, 1970.
Marie Blake
Sister
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.

Companions

Robert Ritchie
Companion
Manager. At one time were engaged; MacDonald broke it off because of his womanizing.
Gene Raymond
Husband
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.

Bibliography

"Hollywood Diva: A Biography of Jeanette MacDonald"
Edward Baron Turk, University of California Press (1998)
"Sweethearts: The Timeless Love Affair On-Screen and Off Between Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy
Sharon Rich, Donald I. Fine, Inc. (1994)
"The Complete Films of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy"
Philip Castanza (1990)
"Farewell to Dreams"
Diane Goodrich and Sharon Rich (1979)
"The Jeanette MacDonald Story"
James Robert Parish, Mason-Charter (1976)
"The Films of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy"
Eleanor Knowles
"Jeanette MacDonald"
Lee Edward Stern, Pyramid Books

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)