Sunday, May 8, 2011
Jeanette MacDonald (1903–1965)
Jeanette MacDonald began her career at age 6, where she had small roles in theaters and operas. By age 13, she was winning singing contests along the eastern United States. Jeanette was a very talented operatic singer/lyrical soprano, with a wide vocal range, E above high C, close to 3 octaves. Her talent soon was spotted by Ernst Lubitsch, and she signed with Paramount early in 1929 to star in the Lubitsch-Chevalier film, The Love Parade (1929). She was 25 years old. After making several films at Paramount, Fox and UA, Irving Thalberg convinced her to come to MGM in 1933. Jeanette soon became known as The Iron Butterfly, for she was one of the most lady-like and beautiful women on the MGM lot, but when it came to her contracts, she was tough and could strike a deal quickly that suited her. Jeanette was a striking red-head, with big blue eyes and this made her an interest to many men at the studio. In 1935, MacDonald was paired with, Nelson Eddy in Naughty Marietta (1935). They were a smash-hit. The pair made eight pictures together, from then on forever known as America's Singing Sweethearts. On June 17, 1937, Jeanette married actor Gene Raymond, in a spectacular Hollywood fashion - it was the best attended wedding of the decade. The marriage lasted 28 years till her death in 1965. After making Cairo (1938), Jeanette left MGM to pursue other interests. In 1943, she made her operatic debut in Montreal, Canada. In 1944, she began working in theatre and on stage, starring in such musicals as The King and I, and gave numerous sold out concerts. In 1948, MacDonald returned to MGM to make her last two films, Three Daring Daughters (1948), with 'Jane Powell' and The Sun Comes Up (1949). The 1950's were spent mainly resting due to her weakening heart although she and Nelson Eddy teamed on television. Their renewed popularity led to a 1958 record album with Nelson Eddy singing their favorite songs. The album went gold. Now more than 30 years after her death, MacDonald still has a large and loyal fan following.