by Nelson Eddy
Saturday Evening Post
January 15, 1949
Maybe it’s the swashbuckler in me, but I thoroughly enjoyed playing the part of Capt. Richard Warrington in Naughty Marietta. Its fighting and marching, its shooting and love making and singing all were a natural part of the plot that was much more substantial than those other musical comedies. I liked the chance to sing the music of Victor Herbert, which everyone knows and loves, and I found it quite painless to accept a new contract with a salary raise when the picture was completed.
This was my first important part in pictures. Before Naughty Marietta, you had to look sharp to see me in the singing bits I did. As a former opera singer, I was under suspicion. Some executives thought that if an opera star were given the role of a movie hero he would have his arms wildly and ham up the works. But Louis B. Mayer took a chance and things worked out pretty well. This was the first picture in which Jeanette MacDonald and I appeared together, although later we sang our way through many romantic miles of film.
Perhaps the thing that impressed me most about the role was the sudden way it shoved me up the Hollywood ladder. On Saturday night I was just a concert singer; by Tuesday night, after the premiere of Naughty Marietta, I was treated as a top movie actor. Coming out of theater after the premiere, Woody Van Dyke, who had directed the picture, said, “Well, what do you think of yourself now?”
“Why,” I said, “I just don’t know how to act.”
Van Dyke laughed. “You’re telling me,” he said.