Jeanette MacDonald popular 1930s singer and actress
“I’ve been told I have an Irish temper, I know I have Scottish thrift, and, like the English, I love a good show.” ~ Jeanette MacDonald
Jeanette MacDonald was born on June 18, 1903 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. MacDonald was an American singer and actress best remembered for her musical films of the 1930s with Maurice Chevalier: “Love Me Tonight” (1932), “The Merry Widow” (1934) and with Nelson Eddy: “Naughty Marietta” (1935), “Rose-Marie” (1936), and “Maytime” (1937). During the 1930s and 1940s she starred in 29 feature films, four nominated for Best Picture Oscars: “The Love Parade” (1929), “One Hour with You” (1932), “Naughty Marietta” (1935) and “San Francisco” (1936). Jeanette MacDonald also recorded extensively, recording more than 90 songs during her career, working exclusively for RCA-Victor in the United States. She earned three gold records, one for an LP album that she did with Nelson Eddy in 1957. MacDonald appeared in musical theatre, grand opera, and television later in her career. She became one of the most influential sopranos of the 20th century, introducing grand opera to movie-going audiences and inspiring a generation of singers.
MacDonald had several serious romances in her life. The first was wealthy NYU student Jack Ohmeis, whom she dated from 1922 until 1927. They became engaged in 1926 but his family objected to his marrying an actress. MacDonald next dated Irving Stone from around 1926-1928; they apparently met when she was touring in Chicago in “Yes, Yes, Yvette”. Stone, who lived in Milwaukee, was the nephew of the founder of the Boston Store and worked in the family business. In 1928 Robert George Ritchie became MacDonald’s manager and fiance. They were together until 1935 and presumed by many to be married. MacDonald dared anyone to prove it. The MacDonald-Ritchie romance began to sour when MacDonald became friendly with Nelson Eddy in late 1933. In January 1934 the trades announced they would be co-starring in “Naughty Marietta”. They dated on and off throughout 1934 but after MacDonald’s 1935 Hawaii trip, Eddy became more persistent in his marriage proposals. The problem was that Eddy wanted her to retire and raise their children; MacDonald preferred to put her career first. They fought constantly over this and broke up in early June 1935. Later that month, MacDonald met the actor Gene Raymond at a party and began dating him. Raymond resembled Nelson Eddy and the two men were sometimes mistaken for each other when seen publicly with MacDonald. During the summer 1935, MacDonald rekindled the relationship with Eddy when they began filming “Rose Marie”. MacDonald later called it “the happiest summer of my life”. While on location at Lake Tahoe, they became secretly engaged. Supposedly MacDonald became pregnant and was ordered by MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer to have an abortion. Eddy did not believe her when she claimed to have miscarried, and he broke off the engagement. On June 16, 1937 MacDonald married Gene Raymond in a traditional ceremony at Wilshire Methodist Church in Los Angeles. They remained married until MacDonald’s death.
Jeanette MacDonald suffered heart ailments in her later years and after an arterial transplant in 1963, died of a heart attack in Houston on January 14, 1965. She was interred on January 18, 1965 in a crypt at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California which reads Jeanette MacDonald Raymond. Hysterical crowds listened to recordings of “Ah, Sweet Mystery” at her Forest Lawn funeral.