by Mary Mann
The Salt Lake Tribune
December 22, 1935
Nelson Eddy, screen film idol and one of America’s foremost baritones, is coming to Salt Lake City on January 15 to give a concert tinder the sponsorship of the extension division of the University of Utah.
A few short years ago, Nelson Eddy was a newspaper man who never dreamed of becoming an international figure. He sang at his work to the tune of losing two good jobs. Either his editors had no ear for music or they were unappreciative talent.
The music and radio public were familiar with the golden baritone voice of Nelson Eddy, but it took just one motion picture, “Naughty Marietta,” with Jeannette MacDonald, to not only make Mr. Eddy world famous and immortalize the Victor Herbert scores, but to change public taste from a decade of crooners and hot jazz.
Eddy is a phenomenon in the music world today. He is not the protege of famous maestros of Europe. Nor is he the product of fond parents who indulged his every wish, prevailed, aided and encouraged his musical training and career. He can truly be termed a “self-made man.”
Today Mr. Eddy is one of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s brightest stars. He receives more fan letters than any other star on the lot. He has no press agent and has appeared in just one big picture, which was preceded by a small part in Joan Crawford’s “Dancing, Ladies.” Without money, without pull, but with talent and a consuming ambition to succeed, he has reached the top.
Nelson Eddy was born at Providence, Rhode Island, July 29. 1901. His father is a mechanical genius, and his mother possesses a vocal gift. Caroline Kenrick, a noted singer, was his grandmother. Nelson’s home was broken up when he was yet a lad, and he was forced to center his attention on the support of himself and his mother. On Sundays he sang with the choir of a Providence church. As he grew older, he had a keen desire to learn and enrolled in various night schools and correspondence courses. In fact, today he says his one claim to fame would be that he has graduated from, more such courses and educational home work than anyone else, he believes. He speaks four languages fluently and sings in others.
He loved to sing, but there was no money for teachers, so Eddy bought phonograph records made by great baritones, and sang their songs over and over again until he could emulate their vocal effects.
In need of a job, he started out early one morning pounding the pavement. He asked for employment at every shop, store and doorway on the street, regardless of the type or place of business. The seventy-first doorway was the entrance of a newspaper office, and there he obtained a job as errand boy. He worked hard, decided right there and then he would like to be an ace reporter. He studied journalism at night school, started in by writing obituaries, taking news over the phone; finally found himself on the copy desk, and then became the star reporter of the paper.
He contributed to musical programs. finally went on ‘the radio’ and* his voice, becoming recognized by musical critics, placed him on the concert stage’anti in opera. Metro Goldwyn Mayer studies asked me If I would like to- interview Mr. Eddy. Of course. I assented.
When I arrived at the studio a group of men standing in an outer office was conversing. One individual stood out. The dark glasses and conventional attire did not cover the radiating personality beneath and I recognized him to be Nelson Eddy, though we were unintroduced and I had never before seen him except on the screen.
Nelson Eddy differs from the I mental picture of concert artists with effeminate characteristics who run slim fingers through long bushy hair. Mr, Eddy is essentially masculine. Eddy stands six feet one, with the athletic figure of a Viking. His eyes are blue, sincere and appraising and his hair, unusually thick, of blonde silver and faint gold, lies in soft waves. He has good features and a well-modulated speaking voice with rich inflections, combined with an infectious personality.
“I was Hollywood’s forgotten man for two years,” he told me as we seated ourselves in two comfortable chairs.
“M.G.M. signed me in the spring of 1933 when I gave a concert at the Philharmonic auditorium in Los Angeles. I played a small part in one picture, but no director wanted to take the risk of launching me as a star for fear I wouldn’t click.”
Though Mr. Eddy is one of Hollywood’s most personable young men and most eligible bachelor, he has never married. He has never had time to, he says. He lives in a beautiful home in Beverly Hills with his mother. He reads his fan mail, which arrives at his studio 3000 strong weekly, and is assisted by his mother and two secretaries. Gladys Swarthout and Lawrence Tibbctt live on the same drive as Mr. Eddy, and frequently they get together for a series of trios. In fact, Mr. Eddy calls their street Harmony Row.
“Life stops while I am making a picture.” he said. “I rise at 6 a. m. every day, spend the entire day at the studio and arrive home at 7:30 p. m. After dinner I retire early to be fit and alert for the next day’s work. Between pictures I fill concert tours, make records, and, beginning January 1, I shall go on a four months’ concert tour.”
Being rather curious as to just how this, young man had managed to escape matrimony, I asked him the type of woman he preferred.
“A woman may be tall, short, fat or thin, but if she is alive, animated, then she is interesting. And, of course, a good figure, smartly attired increases both the charm and personality of any woman. I prefer a girl who does something, even if in a 10-cent store, who has feeling, sympathetic understanding, to a glamorous, beautiful woman whose only purpose in life is to invite excitement, adulation, adoration and attention.”
I asked him if he enjoyed making concert tours which take him away from home and friends and arc fatiguing in the long journeys and strict schedules from city to city. He said that he did indeed, and that’ he liked to meet the people to whom he owed so much, because their reception of his voice and his efforts to please them have made his success.
As we drove through the twilight of Hollywood, Mr. Eddy, quite unawares, hummed a little melody to himself. That day he had just signed a new contract for 21 broadcasts. He was only humming to himself as you or I might do when we arc happy, successful and content at eventide.