Special Tribute to Jeanette
in her home city on her
Posted on Sun, Jun. 15, 2003
toasts to Phila.'s queen of the silver screen
Contact movie critic Carrie Rickey at 215-854-5402 or email@example.com. and let her know how wonderful her article is.
In a city that has spawned its share of movie stars, the typical multiplex rat might be excused for not knowing the name of Philadelphia's longest-reigning export to Tinseltown.
It isn't W. C. Fields or Grace Kelly or even Will Smith. The Fresh Prince has to be a top draw for 12 more years to equal this Hollywood queen's 20-year box-office dominion. And you have to wonder whether his official admiration society, like hers, will be going strong 66 years after its founding - and almost 40 years after its namesake's death.
But Philadelphians, don't reveal your ignorance to the 1,800 adoring members of the Jeanette MacDonald International Fan Club, who on Wednesday will hoist a few sherries to mark the 100th anniversary of the West Philly thrush's birth.
Other Wednesday festivities in honor of the Hollywood legend - who died of heart failure in 1965 at age 61, 16 years after her last movie - include a free 6 p.m. screening of The Merry Widow at the Prince Music Theater. And Cable's Turner Classic Movies will show six of MacDonald's movies.
MacDonald continues to excite such passion for two reasons. Because she brought high art and her high C to a mass art form. And because singers stir hearts in ways that straight actors cannot.
"I hear the trained soprano," wrote Walt Whitman. "[She] convulses me like the climax of my love grip."
Lloyd Nolan, costar of MacDonald's final film, The Sun Comes Up, put it even more pungently in MacDonald's eulogy: "When Jeanette sang, she sang to you."
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