Jeanette MacDonald Back: Singer Tells of Concert Tour of British Isles
by Eveleen Locke
Hollywood Citizen News
September 11, 1946
“After seeing how gallantly the British accept their very critical shortages, I’m not going to grouse about our American inconveniences any more–except maybe under my breath sometimes.”
It was golden-voiced Jeanette MacDonald speaking as she relaxed yesterday in her luxuriously furnished Bel Air Rd. home and discussed the six-weeks’ concert tour of the British Isles from which she had just returned.
She flew to England late in June expecting a cold reception, for British critics had been vigorously panning American artists. The Hollywood actress did meet cold weather that did put her in her hotel room for two weeks with flu, but British audiences warmed to her from her first appearance.
Fans blocked the approaches to the theaters in Hollywood premiere fashion, and stamped and whistled their applause.
“I think they were hungry for the sight of American clothes as much as anything,” Miss MacDonald commented as she sipped a large glass of fresh milk with evident enjoyment. (In England, she had to have a doctor’s order to get a glass of powdered milk daily).
Audiences stood eight deep in the galleries to hear her sing the Victor Herbert melodies that have made her famous. “They didn’t want new songs–just familiar numbers like ‘Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life,” she reported. In Scotland she added a Scottish number to her program; she sang haunting welsh lyrics in Wales and Irish as in Dublin, but otherwise her repertoire was strictly American. “The liked Collins Smith, my accompanist, very much,” she added.
“But it was the little kindnesses that really warmed my heart,” the actress declared.”In a war-ravaged country where a sign in every bathroom reminds one that ‘hot water takes precious fuel,’ waiters saw that I had tomato juice, a little fruit occasionally, and even an egg.” (Britishers get one egg a month).
In Scotland she looked wistfully at woolens, thinking how nice a suit length would be as a birthday gift to Husband Gene Raymond. (Cloth costs ration points, and these are not issued to visitors). A group of hotel employees heard of her wishful thinking and pooled enough of the precious points to give her the yardage. Deeply touched, Miss MacDonald made an impromptu personal appearance, and saw that the group received all of her “sweets” ration coupons so they could divide a few chocolate bars among them.
Raymond flew to New York to meet his wife when the tour was over, their planes landing almost simultaneously at La Guardia Field. She remained in new your to make recordings, while he joined the “straw hat circuit” in New England to play opposite Gertrude Lawrence in “The Man in Possession.”
“It was the first time in 17 years I’ve played in stock, and the experience was certainly stimulating,” Raymond said. He is scheduled to direct a picture for Eagle-Lion here, but may postpone that for a part in a Broadway production this winter. Mrs. Raymond said she wasn’t sure what her next assignment will be.