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"Sexless" Jeanette MacDonald?


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Kind of don't like stuff like this, BUT it is true.

MGM researched audience reaction to all their talent, and the report on her was: men overwhelmingly said they couldn't imagine making love to her.

Maybe it was...who knows? But I can understand it. She just doesn't seem like bedroom material. She's beautiful, but maybe "untouchable."

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> {quote:title=Ascotrudgeracer wrote:}{quote}

> Kind of don't like stuff like this, BUT it is true.

> MGM researched audience reaction to all their talent, and the report on her was: men overwhelmingly said they couldn't imagine making love to her.

> Maybe it was...who knows? But I can understand it. She just doesn't seem like bedroom material. She's beautiful, but maybe "untouchable."

 

Then MGM, or Joseph Breen's production code, is to blame. Anyone who has seen Jeanette in those Paramount films of hers, where she cavorts in step-ins and silk stockings, knows she's incredibly sexy. (How long after mid-1934 was this research done?)

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It was a RO prologue leading in to one of her films...that's the only reason I remember the story.

There MUST be a way to ACTUALLY have Osborne confirm this.

She is pretty, talented, professional and all else, but there is something about her lacking in that department.

RO must monitor this site in some fashion; how about it?

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Go visit my comments on the Maurice Chevalier thread. Jeanette was sexy in those movies! Then, she became the Iron Butterfly in the Nelson Eddy movies. My grandpa, a French Canadian, had a terrible crush on her in the Chevalier films -- all those lingerie scenes! I guess Jeanette before the MGM years is sort of like knowing Doris Day before she became a virgin.

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> {quote:title=clearskies wrote:}{quote}

> I thought she was beautiful, & tastefully sexy with her gorgeous body & flimsy lingerie.

 

I agree. She was just not as obvious or as overt as Jean Harlow, but those early films reveal that Jeanette understood the basic human-nature theory behind the flimsy lacy underwear of the early 1930s.

 

http://www.filmreference.com/images/sjff_03_img1008.jpg

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You are right, no doubt.

I was going to say that in my original post; that trilling, falsetto, operatic style of singing makes her unsexy. After all, not many opera singers are sex symbols.

If MacDonald sang in a husky, dusky voice (Bacall?) she would have registered differently with males.

She looked earthy in "Girl of the Golden West." But when she did her thing in "San Francisco" singing song of same, the performance was painful to watch.

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Ascotrudgeracer,

 

In what book or article did you read this? I have never heard of this so-called MGM research on whether Jeanette was sexy or not. But one thing is _known_, Louis B. Mayer had the hots for her when he hired her away from Paramount and he was spouting his family film morality as the mark of MGM films. This, despite the man's own lack of morality, forcing his women stars to service him in his office, but that's another story.

 

Basically he turned her career and image around. He wanted Jeanette to be the epitome of virginal sweetness and wholesome for his family films. I doubt Mayer cared or wanted her to be sexy in her films. That the male audience didn't find her sexy was probably fine with Mayer, that's what he had Joan Crawford and Jean Harlow for. Not his Princess Jeanette.

 

IMHO, prior to her MGM years, she did have a kittenish sex appeal, especially in those flimsy slips!

 

BTW, for some reason Ray Bolger decided he had a beef with Nelson Eddy later on in life after Nelson had passed away. It seems this was a good time, now that Eddy was dead, to trash him and it was Bolger who called him the Blond Capon. Eddy was not as Bolger insinuated. Nelson had affairs with many women and was in love with Jeanette from the moment he met her until her death.

 

Allan Jones also did some historical rewriting after both Jeanette and Nelson had died, insisting he was up for and Mayer himself wanted the tenor for the "Naughty Marietta" part but Jones couldn't get out of his contract. However, none of that is born out in any bios done of Mayer or MGM. It was always Nelson Eddy and in a 1960 radio interview (it's on YouTube) Jeanette MacDonald herself told how she chose Nelson from a group of screen tests to play Captain Warrington. She never mentioned her old friend Jones (not even in her own unpublished autobiography!) was ever considered for the part. So take a lot of the mudslinging at Jeanette and Nelson with a "jealous" or ignorant-of-the-facts grain of salt. They were wonderful performers and loved one another tempestuously. Mayer wouldn't let them break out of the operetta formula, so don't blame the talent. He also wouldn't let Nelson marry Jeanette.

 

Sorry for the rant, but these two have given such joy to their fans and it hurts to see them disparaged and dismissed especially with rumors and innuendo.

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...on this site, one must read the entire thread.

As I wrote on a post, Robert Osborne (TCM Host) talked about this.

I do wish he would confirm this fact. He is the one who stated MGM's research dept. concluded male movie-goers said they couldn't see themselves "making love to Jeanette MacDonald"

 

Edited by: Ascotrudgeracer on Apr 29, 2011 6:56 PM

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Some very beautiful actresses really lack sex appeal. Julie Andrews, Deborah Kerr...no, I don't think it's because of the accent. Although, Deborah Kerr in the SUNDOWNERS, well, it was such an earthy role for her. In that movie she actually was kind of sexy. Okay, I'm off topic - Jeanette MacDonald? Never did anything for me, either. Sorry.

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Sorry, I did read the entire thread. I know you said RO said that but where did he get his information from? A book? A biography? That's what I meant. At any rate, as a woman, who cares if she was sexy? Maybe that's why women like her so much?

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> {quote:title=Ascotrudgeracer wrote:}{quote}

> As I wrote on a post, Robert Osborne (TCM Host) talked about this.

> I do wish he would confirm this fact. He is the one who stated MGM's research dept. concluded male movie-goers said they couldn't see themselves "making love to Jeanette MacDonald"

 

I don't think that's the whole story.

 

There were plenty of male movie-goers who would have loved to marry Jeanette MacDonald. These were the kinds of guys who would have found dames like Jean Harlow too "cheap" and tawdry.

 

You need to realize that while some male movie-goers thought of having adulterous affairs with dames like Harlow, others thought of marrying and having kids with women like MacDonald.

 

Not every man in a movie audience wanted a dame like this:

 

http://www.seraphicpress.com/images/Rain_Crawford-Joan04.jpg

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Jeanette MacDonald was very sexy and saucy in her early Paramount films. As she became an MGM diva she became more of an ice queen (but still very beautiful). Yet she turns in a seductive performance in *The Firefly.* MacDonald was a great singer and also a terrfici dramatic actress and had a deft comic touch. She started out on Broadway as a dancer who could sing. MGM boxed her in with it ice queen image (one Mayer loved) but she could have had a bigger career if allowed to appear in non-musicals. I can easily imagine MacDonald in say the Norma Shearer role in *The Women.*

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> {quote:title=kevshrop wrote:}{quote}

> Some very beautiful actresses really lack sex appeal. Julie Andrews, Deborah Kerr...no, I don't think it's because of the accent.

 

You've never seen "The Americanization Of Emily," have you?

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Whoever thought Jeanette MacDonald didn't have sex appeal needs to be checked into an emergency room!

 

Ernst Lubitsch used her to great advantage in her first film, THE LOVE PARADE. She was named the "Lingerie Queen" back in her early career..and her charms were very evident in a scene in LOVE ME TONIGHT when she and her doctor exchange notes about her health.

 

She definitely scored as temptress NINA MARIA, the Spanish spy who charmed Warren Wiliams' Col. DeRougemont in no uncertain terms..i.e. "Have i EVER been "unapproachable to you, monsieur?!" She could burn up the screen, w/o a doubt.

 

I think this "sexless" comment can be attributed to the fact that after she left Paramount and went to MGM, her characters (for the most part) were ladylike and genteel (while she had been very naughty during her Paramount and Fox days). The operetta format that worked so well for Jeanette and Nelson didn't have much room for "naughtiness" (well, except for Naughty Marietta!). Whatever it was, the public couldn't get enough of them. They were extremely popular in their day and their concert tours were highly anticipated and well attended.

 

They were both happily married to their respective spouses until they died. The world is a poorer place because of their absence. They brought romance and beautiful music and entertained us royally! Noel Coward wrote in Bittersweet "Time may lie heavy between, but what has been, is past forgetting". Past forgetting, indeed!

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I agree with you about how easy it is to disparage & dismiss actors just because you don't happen to like them, whether you are a colleague, critic or fan. I found Nelson Eddy to be rather stiff on screen & not a natural acting talent but have read that he only did movies to further his concert career & that Jeanette MacDonald did concerts to further her movie career. Who knows what's really true? Eddy had a 4 octave range, perfect pitch, was certainly easy on the eyes (which Bolger was not) & women of his day did find him sexy. He unquestionably liked the ladies & I have heard pros & cons about the supposed life-long love affair with MacDonald, even though both were "happily" married. I like them both, very much but keep it in the perspective of the era.

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