SWEETHEARTS: The Timeless Love Affair -- On Screen and Off -- Between Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy by Sharon Rich

SWEETHEARTS: The Timeless Love Affair -- On Screen and Off -- Between Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This lengthy biography of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy reveals lives as melodramatic and star-crossed as one of their movies -- without the happy ending. Author Rich (president of one of four MacDonald/Eddy fan clubs still extant in the US) reveals more about the two lovers than even the most avid fan might want to know, including Nelson's descriptions of Jeanette's ""little nighties."" The question it leaves unanswered is how the feisty soprano and the lusty baritone, certainly among Hollywood's most popular stars during the late 1930s and early '40s, managed to make such goulash of their love affair. Although both singers regularly denied it, according to Rich, they were attracted to each other from the moment they met. MacDonald was characterized as ""an ambitious career gal with a bad reputation"" and was rumored to be one of Louis B. Mayer's couch tomatoes. Mayer, in fact, frowned on the singers' relationship for professional as well as personal reasons, but cast them in Naughty Marietta, their first film together. It made the duet stars -- and brought them to bed after nearly a year of stolen kisses. It wasn't romantic. In a jealous rage, Nelson raped Jeanette, according to Rich. But she forgave him, beginning a cycle of reconciliation and rejection that went on for 30 years, and included suicide attempts and miscarriages. In a rejection phase, MacDonald married actor Gene Raymond (who, she discovered, preferred men as sexual partners) while Eddy wed a possessive woman who refused divorce, in spite of his numerous infidelities (MacDonald was not the only liaison). A source for much of the material, including intimate details of the couples' private meetings, is Eddy's mother, Isabel, via her son's diaries and letters. A filmography is included. A bonanza for MacDonald/Eddy fans, a pan full of nuggets for aficionados of Hollywood and MGM, but an encyclopedic struggle for the less dedicated.

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 1994
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Donald Fine