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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Local Author Tells Compelling Story of Hollywood Couple

By Cathy Hollander

Mt. Lookout author Margie Schultz has been hooked on old movies since she began watching them as a child with her father. After studying theater and journalism at U.C., she wrote four reference books about Golden Age actresses for Greenwood Press and numerous articles.

In 2011, Schultz became fascinated with actress/singer Jeanette MacDonald, best known for her movies with Maurice Chevalier and Nelson Eddy, and San Francisco opposite Clark Gable.  Schultz began trying to learn more about her and collecting memorabilia. One of the most unusual items is a cigarette box that MacDonald and her husband, actor Gene Raymond, received as a wedding gift.
During her research, Schultz found that many books and web sites had conflicting information about MacDonald’s career and marriage.  When the last of MacDonald’s fan club presidents died, many of the items the Raymonds had given to the club were sold, including photos, scrapbooks and correspondence.  

I'll See You Again is divided into three volumes.

“There are two distinct factions of fans: those who think Jeanette and Gene had a happy marriage and those who think she had a longtime affair with Nelson Eddy,” explained Schultz.  “When the Raymonds’ letters were offered, those of us who believe they had a happy marriage wanted to make sure their correspondence was preserved, so we banded together to purchase what we could.”  

After reading the letters, Schultz knew she had to share them, and she began writing a book -  which turned into three volumes -  entitled I'll See You Again: The Bittersweet Love Story and Wartime Letters of Jeanette MacDonald and Gene Raymond, published by BearManor Media. The title came from a song from Noel Coward’s operetta, Bitter Sweet, in which MacDonald appeared on screen and stage.  

The song had a special meaning for the Raymonds.  Not only was it Gene’s favorite, but during the war, his wife sang a special version on the radio, addressing their separation.  When she learned the show didn’t air in England, she sent him records of the broadcast.  Schultz said such romantic gestures were common for the couple.  

Margie Schultz of Mt. Lookout wrote the books under her pen name of Maggie McCormick. 
MacDonald starred in many early “talkies.”  Initially nicknamed ‘The Lingerie Queen,’ she often appeared in negligees, bustiers or the bathtub, spouting dialogue loaded with double entendres.  After the production code was enforced in 1934, MacDonald’s image changed; she became known as ‘The Iron Butterfly,’ referring to her delicate beauty and strong business sense.  She became a superstar when she teamed with Eddy in operettas like Naughty Marietta and Rose-Marie.  She also had a successful concert career.  Celebrities like Betty White, Carol Burnett, Beverly Sills and Joanne Woodward were fans.

Margie Schultz/Maggie McCormick at Gene Raymond's panel at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.  Colonel Raymond is part of their "Celebrities in Uniform" exhibit. 
Raymond and Ann Sothern made five romantic comedies.  He also starred opposite Bette Davis, Loretta Young, Barbara Stanwyck, and Joan Crawford.  Among his best-known films are Red Dust with Jean Harlow and Flying Down to Rio, which introduced Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers as a team.  

Although Smilin’ Through was the Raymonds’ only joint film, they frequently worked together on radio and TV.  In 1951, they toured in the romantic comedy The Guardsman, which played Cincinnati.  In the 1920s, each appeared here in plays and, in the 1940s, MacDonald sang with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and did two operas at the zoo.

Schultz used the pen name Maggie McCormick for the series of books.  Volume 1 explores the Raymonds’ lives, from their births through World War II.  Volume 2 consists of transcripts of their wartime letters.  Volume 3 focuses on their post-war lives, showing how changes in the studio system, public taste, and the advent of television affected their marriage and careers. In addition to explaining how they conquered their marital problems, it dispels myths about MacDonald’s relationships with Raymond and Eddy.  

The books include photos from the Raymonds' personal collection, like this post-war shot.
Schultz relied on several drafts of MacDonald’s unpublished autobiography and almost thirty years of correspondence between the Raymonds and their friends and family. 

“I think the books should appeal to fans of Old Hollywood, especially those familiar with Jeanette and Gene's movies from TCM, as well as those interested in World War II,” said Schultz.  “Several longtime fans thanked me for making sure the truth about the Raymonds is preserved.”

Schultz can be reached at or P.O. Box 9371, Cincinnati, OH 45209.  She is happy to hear from other fans or add to her collection.

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