August 13, 1908
New York City, U.S.
|Died||May 3, 1998 89) (aged|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California|
|Years of service||1940–1968|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Legion of Merit|
Gene Raymond (born Raymond Guion; August 13, 1908 – May 3, 1998)was an American film, television, and stage actor of the 1930s and 1940s. In addition to acting, Raymond was also a singer, composer, screenwriter, director, producer, and decorated military pilot.
Raymond was born August 13, 1908 in New York City. He attended the Professional Children's School while appearing in productions like Rip Van Winkle and Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch. His Broadway debut, at age 17, was in The Cradle Snatchers which ran two years. (The cast included Mary Boland, Edna May Oliver, and a young Humphrey Bogart.)
His screen debut was in Personal Maid (1931). Another early appearance was in the multi-director If I Had a Million with W. C. Fields and Charles Laughton. With his blond good looks, classic profile, and youthful exuberance – plus a name change to the more pronounceable "Gene Raymond" – he scored in films like the classic Zoo in Budapest with Loretta Young, and a series of light RKO musicals, mostly with Ann Sothern. He wrote a number of songs, including the popular "Will You?" which he sang to Sothern in Smartest Girl in Town (1936). His wife, Jeanette MacDonald, sang several of his more classical pieces in her concerts and recorded one entitled "Let Me Always Sing".
His most notable films, mostly as a second lead actor, include Red Dust (1932) with Jean Harlow and Clark Gable, Zoo in Budapest (1933) with Loretta Young, Ex-Lady (1933) with Bette Davis, Flying Down to Rio (1933) with Dolores del Río, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, I Am Suzanne (1934) with Lilian Harvey, Sadie McKee (1934) with Joan Crawford, Alfred Hitchcock's Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941) with Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery, and The Locket (1946) with Laraine Day, Brian Aherne, and Robert Mitchum. MacDonald and Raymond made one film together, Smilin' Through , which came out as the U.S. was on the verge of entering World War II.
After service in the United States Army Air Forces Raymond returned to Hollywood. He wrote, directed and starred in the 1949 film Million Dollar Weekend . In later years he appeared in only a few films. His last major film was The Best Man in 1964 with Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson.
In the 1950s he mostly worked in television, appearing in Playhouse of Stars,Fireside Theatre , Hollywood Summer Theater and TV Reader's Digest . In the 1970s he appeared on ABC Television Network's Paris 7000 and had guest roles in The Outer Limits , Robert Montgomery Presents , Playhouse 90 , The Man from U.N.C.L.E. , Ironside , The Defenders , Mannix , The Name of the Game , Lux Video Theatre , Kraft Television Theatre and U.S. Steel Hour .
Following the beginning of World War II in Europe in 1939, Raymond felt certain the U.S. would eventually enter the war.He trained as a pilot for that eventuality, and after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, he was commissioned a lieutenant in the Army Air Forces. He served as an observer aboard B-17 anti-submarine flights along the Atlantic coast before attending intelligence school and shipping out to England in July 1942. He served with the 97th Bomb Group before taking over as assistant operations officer in the VIII Bomber Command. He was transferred back to the U.S. in 1943 and piloted a variety of aircraft, both bombers and fighters, in stateside duties. He remained in the United States Air Force Reserve following the war, retiring in 1968 as a colonel, awarded with a Legion of Merit for his efforts during the Vietnam War.
Raymond was notorious in Hollywood for being outspoken against the studio system, saying that it was not "living up to expectations".The only actors that he had faith in were Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, two people that he claimed "knew what they were doing". He was one of the first actors of the time to go freelance, although he admitted that it was mostly to spite the studios.
He also excelled at sports, such as gymnastics and tennis.George Sidney once called Raymond "the most gorgeous thing the world had ever seen".
Raymond married Jeanette MacDonald in 1937.He met her at a Hollywood party two years earlier at Roszika Dolly's home; MacDonald agreed to a date, as long as it was at her family's dinner table. Despite the strong relationship, Raymond's mother did not like MacDonald, attempting to snub her a few times (such as arranging her son with Janet Gaynor as a plus one at a charity ball), and did not attend the wedding.
The Raymonds lived in a 21-room Tudor Revival mansion named Twin Gables with their pet dogs, birds and their horse White Lady, which Raymond gave to MacDonald as a birthday present;after MacDonald's death, it was briefly owned by John Phillips and Michelle Phillips from The Mamas and Papas.
MacDonald often worried about her husband's self-esteem.Although she appreciated his support, MacDonald wished that their success was equal; when Raymond turned down her offer to join one of her music tours, she did not feel let down: "Trailing along on my tours would make him 'Mr. MacDonald', a galling label for any self-respecting man. As it was, he was called 'Mr. MacDonald' often enough to make me admire tremendously his good sportsmanship in taking it on the chin." Raymond was sometimes mistaken for Nelson Eddy by MacDonald's fans and passersby, which MacDonald later admitted that she never liked either: "Of course we always laughed it off—sometimes Gene even obliged by signing Nelson's name—but no one will ever know the agonies I suffered on such occasions. More than anything else in the world those days, I wanted to see him receive as much acclaim as I, to spare him these humiliations." When she reunited with Maurice Chevalier in 1957, he asked her why she had retired from films, to which she replied, "Because for exactly twenty years I've played my best role, by his [Raymond's] side. And I'm perfectly happy." The two of them were married for almost 28 years until MacDonald's death in 1965.
Despite rumors of getting close with Jane Wyman,in 1974, Raymond married Nelson Bentley Hees and they lived together in Pacific Palisades. Hees died from Alzheimer's in 1995.
Raymond devoted time to Jeanette MacDonald's International Fan Club, befriending president Clara Rhoades, and taking a few members out to lunch annually.His last public appearance was June 27, 1997, at the 60th-anniversary banquet of the Fan Club at Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
He was a Republicanand supported Barry Goldwater in the 1964 United States presidential election.
During the time of the Hollywood Blacklist, he and MacDonald did not involve themselves with the HUAC investigations; neither were ever summoned to a hearing (MacDonald openly disagreed with the situation in a radio interview).
On May 3, 1998, at 89 years of age, Raymond died of pneumonia at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center [ citation needed ] His body was interred next to Jeanette MacDonald's in the Freedom Mausoleum at Forest Lawn, Glendale.in Los Angeles, California.
For his contributions to the motion picture and television industries, Gene Raymond has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 7001 Hollywood Boulevard (motion pictures) and 1708 Vine Street (television).
Biographer Sharon Rich reported in her Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald biography, Sweethearts, that Raymond and MacDonald had a rocky marriage. This began on their honeymoon when MacDonald allegedly discovered Raymond in bed with Buddy Rogers. Sharon Rich was friends with MacDonald’s sister Blossom Rock and knew Raymond as well.
Biographer E. J. Fleming alleged that Eddy had confronted Raymond for abusing MacDonald, who was visibly pregnant with Eddy’s childwhile filming Sweethearts which ended with Eddy attacking him and leaving him for dead, reported incorrectly by newspapers as Raymond recovering from falling down the stairs. Raymond was physically unable to father children and MacDonald alluded to this fact in her unfinished autobiography, writing that she returned from her Hawaii honeymoon with Raymond with the knowledge and accurate admittance that "The MacRaymonds had no children." Nevertheless MacDonald had additional later documented pregnancies while married to Raymond, all of which ended in miscarriage.
MacDonald's 1963 desk diary was sold at auction in 2015. Despite public statements over the years by both MacDonald and Raymond defending their marriage, the handwritten pages reveal that MacDonald and Raymond lived in separate bedrooms or apartments and that MacDonald’s health rapidly failed, with her weight noted daily and at times under 100 pounds. She writes of verbal abuse from Raymond, physical neglect, and being left alone for 44 days during the year until the diary ends on November 1, 1963, the date she flew to Houston Methodist Hospital for heart surgery.
San Francisco is a 1936 musical-drama disaster film directed by W. S. Van Dyke, based on the April 18, 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The film stars Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald and Spencer Tracy. MacDonald's singing helped make this film a major hit, coming on the heels of her other 1936 blockbuster, Rose Marie.
Jeanette Anna MacDonald was an American singer and actress best remembered for her musical films of the 1930s with Maurice Chevalier and Nelson Eddy. During the 1930s and 1940s she starred in 29 feature films, four nominated for Best Picture Oscars, and recorded extensively, earning three gold records. She later appeared in opera, concerts, radio, and television. MacDonald was one of the most influential sopranos of the 20th century, introducing opera to film-going audiences and inspiring a generation of singers.
Nelson Ackerman Eddy was an American actor and baritone singer who appeared in 19 musical films during the 1930s and 1940s, as well as in opera and on the concert stage, radio, television, and in nightclubs. A classically trained baritone, he is best remembered for the eight films in which he costarred with soprano Jeanette MacDonald. He was one of the first "crossover" stars, a superstar appealing both to shrieking bobby soxers and opera purists, and in his heyday, he was the highest paid singer in the world.
Woodbridge Strong Van Dyke II (Woody) was an American film director and writer who made several successful early sound films, including Tarzan the Ape Man in 1932, The Thin Man in 1934, San Francisco in 1936, and six popular musicals with Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald. He received two Academy Award nominations for Best Director for The Thin Man and San Francisco, and directed four actors to Oscar nominations: William Powell, Spencer Tracy, Norma Shearer, and Robert Morley. Known as a reliable craftsman who made his films on schedule and under budget, he earned the name "One Take Woody" for his quick and efficient style of filming.
That's Entertainment, Part II is a 1976 American compilation film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and a sequel to That's Entertainment! (1974). Like the previous film, That's Entertainment, Part II was a retrospective of famous films released by MGM from the 1930s to the 1950s.
Maytime is a 1937 American musical romantic drama film produced by MGM. It was directed by Robert Z. Leonard, and stars Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. The screenplay was rewritten from the book for Sigmund Romberg's 1917 operetta Maytime by Rida Johnson Young, Romberg's librettist; however, only one musical number by Romberg was retained.
Sweethearts is a 1938 American Technicolor musical romance film directed by W.S. Van Dyke and starring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. The screenplay, by Dorothy Parker and Alan Campbell, uses the “play within a play” device: a Broadway production of the 1913 Victor Herbert operetta is the setting for another pair of sweethearts, the stars of the show. It was the first color film for Nelson or Jeanette. It was their first film together without uniforms or period costumes.
Genevieve Tobin was an American actress.
Hunt Stromberg was a film producer during Hollywood's Golden Age. In a prolific 30-year career beginning in 1921, Stromberg produced, wrote, and directed some of Hollywood's most profitable and enduring films, including The Thin Man series, the Nelson Eddy/Jeanette MacDonald operettas, The Women, and The Great Ziegfeld, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1936.
The Cat and the Fiddle is a 1934 American pre-Code romantic musical film directed by William K. Howard based on the hit 1931 Broadway musical of the same name by Jerome Kern and Otto A. Harbach, about a romance between a struggling composer and an American singer. The film stars Ramon Novarro and Jeanette MacDonald in her MGM debut.
Rafaela Ottiano was an Italian-American stage and film actress.
The Girl of the Golden West is a 1938 American musical Western film adapted from the 1905 play of the same name by David Belasco, better known for providing the plot of the opera La fanciulla del West by Giacomo Puccini. A frontier woman falls in love with an outlaw.
Rose Marie is a 1936 American musical film starring Jeanette MacDonald, Nelson Eddy, and Reginald Owen that was directed by W. S. Van Dyke. It was the second of three movie adaptations from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer of the 1924 Broadway musical of the same name. A silent version was released in 1928 and a color film in 1954. All three versions are set in the Canadian wilderness. Portions of Rudolf Friml and Herbert Stothart's original score for the Broadway musical are utilized in both the 1936 and 1954 films.
Smilin' Through is a 1941 Technicolor MGM musical film based on the 1919 play of the same name by Jane Cowl and Jane Murfin.
Bitter Sweet is a 1940 American Technicolor musical film directed by W. S. Van Dyke, based on the operetta Bitter Sweet by Noël Coward. It was nominated for two Academy Awards, one for Best Cinematography and the other for Best Art Direction by Cedric Gibbons and John S. Detlie.
"Beyond the Blue Horizon" is a 1930 song composed by Leo Robin, Richard A. Whiting, and W. Franke Harling, and was first performed by Jeanette MacDonald in the 1930 film Monte Carlo. It was released that November as a single on a 78 rpm disc along with the song "Always, in All Ways" on Victor Records. Four takes were recorded on August 4 at the Hollywood Recording Studio, conducted by LeRoy Shield, with MacDonald and the vocal group The Rounders; the second take was chosen for release.
Favorites in Stereo is a studio album by Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. The album was recorded in stereo and released by RCA Records in 1959. For its monaural release the title was changed to Favorites in Hi-Fi. The album peaked at number 40 on the Billboard 200 chart. It was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on October 27, 1966.
American actress/singer Jeanette MacDonald recorded over 50 songs during her film career for RCA Victor and its foreign counterparts. Due to the limited statistics released to the public, it is not certain how many songs and singles she has released or their exact popularity in music charts, although she has officially recorded eight studio albums and released seven compilation albums. Despite soundtracks for musical films not becoming a concept until the 1940s, many of her singles were re-recordings of songs she had performed in the movies ; her first "album" was the single "Dream Lover"/"March of the Grenadiers" (1930) on 78 rpm discs for The Love Parade. She also recorded a cover album of songs featured in Sigmund Romberg's Up in Central Park in 1945 with Robert Merrill, as well as non-English records during her 1931 European tour.
The following features lists of the film, television and stage performances of actress and singer Jeanette MacDonald. She is best remembered for her musical films of the 1930s with Maurice Chevalier and Nelson Eddy, but she starred in 29 feature films between 1929 and 1950, from operas to dramas to romantic comedies.
MacDonald in Song is a 1939 album by American actress Jeanette MacDonald, released by RCA Victor.