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Jeanette--The Super Star


Photo Gift from Ian


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Jeanette--The Super Star




          Movies changed in the late 1920s with the coming of sound.  Great silent stars were now out of jobs and Hollywood was scrambling for stars who would sound good.  Studios immediately turned to the stage for stars that could speak and sing.  They also sought out opera singers from the Met, or fresh, new talent who had a singing background. 

            Lawrence Tibet and Grace Moore had come to Hollywood to make musicals.  Irene Dunne, Carol Landis, and John Boles also entered the cinema world; Preston Foster and even Alan Hale had studied voice.  It suddenly seemed that if an actor looked good and sang well, they were in.  The list goes on and on. But with all of this great talent, none of them combined had the magic of a New York Stage star brought exclusively to Hollywood because of her beauty, acting, and most of all—her magical singing voice.  This star was Jeanette MacDonald! 

            Amazingly enough, before Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Errol Flynn, James Cagney, Bette Davis, Jean Harlow, Loretta Young, Tyrone Power, Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and so many other names would find stardom, Jeanette was a super star.

            Jeanette came to Hollywood as a known star, and after her first movie, soared to super status.  She had “IT” in so many ways that other actors lacked.  She had charm, grace, beauty, sexiness; she could act, dance, and had a great sense of humor, and a flirtation that captured movie-going audiences around the world.  It was not by chance that she always played royalty (a queen, princess, the sophisticated rich society woman); it was her whole personality that told the world she was a true queen, and she reigned supreme over all other stars. 

            In all of her movies it is impossible for the audiences to take their eyes off her, for she just grabs their hearts and holds them from the moment she appears on the silver screen to the end of the movie.  Only super stars have the ability to carry an entire movie all by themselves—such as Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne; and Jeanette.  No other female star has ever been able to do this, and this includes the great Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and Greta Garbo.  As further proof of her super star status, any of her leading male co-stars could have been played by someone else, but no one could ever play Jeanette’s part. 

            There is some truth that certain people are born with special talents.  But when you have a person who encompasses all the talents required for the Silver Screen or stage, and an inner strength and discipline to raise this special talent to art form, plus a keen sense of what makes great theater, then this is truly a rare artist.  And Jeanette was precisely this, the rarest of stars. 

            If one needed more proof of how she shined above all other movie stars, twice she was voted Queen of Hollywood by the public, outpolling major stars like Gable who received twenty-thousand votes less than Jeanette.  The public loved and adored her, and raised her on a pedestal so high that even to this day no other actress has come close to her—and this is more than forty years since she passed away. 

            Yes, there are great stars—and then there is the greatest star of them all—Jeanette MacDonald.




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