The Story Behind the Story of SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE

Good Morning (or Afternoon) and Happy Tuesday!

Well in keeping with the “Story Behind the Story” theme, I have a new book soon to be released (it’s selling for a song right now). And that book is SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE.  I’ll also be giving away a free book today to some lucky blogger so please come on in and leave a message.

I love this book.  But before I get into that, let me tell you of another love of mine.  I think I must have been all of ten years old when I first saw the movie “Naughty Marietta,” on television.  Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy.  Struck by one of the last scenes in that movie (their love doesn’t stand a chance and she and he are singing their hearts out to each other — she on the stairs, and he staring up at her),  I have always loved them.  So much so that I wanted to be an opera star when I was about 10 — until my mother spoiled that ambition by telling me that all opera stars are fat…

As I grew older, I eventually saw all of the movies that they did with each other — and I was struck by the fact that these two people were very much in love.  If you don’t believe me, look at the movie, “New Moon” and their duet together beneath the trees and stars.  He can’t keep his hands off of her and she stares into his eyes with a passion that isn’t acting.

That lead me to another book entitled SWEETHEARTS by Sharon Rich, and I found out that I, indeed, was right about these two star-crossed lovers.  They were very much in love — were in love all their lives through — but due to studio (MGM) pressures and outright suppression, they never married, although in the filming of ROSE MARIE, Nelson proposed to Jeanette and she accepted.  But executives at MGM at the time weren’t about to let these two lead happy lives — they needed to sizzle on the screen…

You might be wondering what all this has to do with SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE.  Well, at the time of writing that book, I was reading Sharon’s book, SWEETHEARTS.  I even went to a fan club meeting…

I’ve often called SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE my musical.  Yes, yes, I know it’s only a book.  Yes, I know there isn’t a song going to jump out at you when you open the book.  Still, it’s my “musical,” with the characters based on what I considered the personalities of both Jeanette and Nelson.

I highly recommend getting and reading Sharon’s book, Sweethearts.  They were on again, off again lovers, forever misunderstanding one another and thus, often setting the other against him — however, they remained true to each other all through their lives.  Jeanette died in her sixty’s of heart failure and Nelson soon followed her two years later.

A story told to me by someone in my church (Nelson was a member of my church) said that Nelson had come into the church shortly after Jeanette’s death, and told him that Jeanette was with him always.  Shortly after that — so the story goes, he followed her in death.

Now another interesting little tale that I thought I’d share with you comes to me from Grandfather George, who, before his retirement, was an actor.  He also taught acting classes.

Grandfather George tells the story of MGM in those days — telling the story of how these two people kept trying to be together, but that the studio keptpulling them them apart using lies and other devices — even blackmail to keep them apart.  They (executives, I guess) even arranged a marriage for Jeanette, which she later, according to George and to Sharon’s book, regretted.  But that isn’t the main story that George tells.  He tells me that one day, (now here I have to to rely on your imagination) these two people (young people in the 1990’s) approached him, and told him the story of who they were, that they were Nelson and Jeanette and that now, at last they could be together…

I asked Grandfather George once who these people were in today’s world, but George told me they had sworn him to secrecy.  But after reading their love story (tragic though it was), it was nice to have a “happy ending.”

What does this have to do with SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE?  A lot, I fear.  I was enraptured with this story (and all of their movies) as I was writing this book — thus, I call this book, my musical.  Now before I go, I’ll leave you with a link to my book, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE, but also with a link to two of the most impassioned scenes caught on film.  Enjoy!

This is the scene from New Moon, where these two sing to each other — and it literally takes your breath away.  The song is :  Wanting you:  And here’s the link to that scene that first started me loving this couple: — the song is “Ah Sweet Mystery of Life.”  Enjoy!

And here’s the link to buy SOARING EAGLE”S EMBRACE:

Now, while I’m at it, let me also post two more links of the most beautiful duets and scene romance ever caught on film:

Both of these are from the movie, MAYTIME.  Enjoy!

So yes, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE is my musical.

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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
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26 thoughts on “The Story Behind the Story of SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE”

  1. Karen, I LOVE all of those old movies and I also thought that those two had to be in love. Thanks for telling their story.

    I can hardly wait to read your musical!

  2. Thank you so much, Kay! You and I have discussed JM & NE before–we both love them! I agree with you…their love and passion is quite visible on the screen. Magnificent! Incomparable! Both so talented on their own, but together…true magic! My mother and grandmother and I watched those films together when I was growing up, and later I bought the videos so that Mom and I could watch them whenever we wanted. We all used to sing together along with the films, and those are golden memories!

  3. Interesting post, Kay! I’ve never heard about Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy’s love story. I wonder why they stayed with MGM and continued to act? I’ll have to rent the movies you mentioned. I love the old movies.

    With the background you’ve given, I can’t wait to read “Soaring Eagle’s Embrace.”


  4. Wow, I just spent way too long reading about Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald, I hope you’re happy!!!!!!!
    Fascinating, all the rumors about them, including that he might have fathered one or two children with her, neither child survived to birth, all very hush hush and full of conflicting reports.
    He is also known to have lived right across the street from her apartment in her old age and her HUSBAND has his own apartment in her building??? So she sort of had both of them? And yet had neither of them???
    You know, in a way it’s kind of refreshing to think they did their best to keep their private life PRIVATE, compared to modern celebrities.

  5. I like this “Story Behind the Story” theme. It’s fun to get a little background and find out what’s going through the author’s mind when they write about and think about their own books.

    Great post Karen! I’m sorry to say I haven’t seen any of these old movies, but I’ll soon rectify that!

  6. Hi Connie!

    Thanks so much for your delightful thoughts. Yes, I was certain they were in love — you can’t help but see it on the screen — yes, they were good actors, but it goes beyond that.

    That book, Sweetheart, is very interesting — as it documents their love story.

  7. Hi Virginia!

    It’s so good to hear from you. You know, I sing along with them, too. I also sing to my plants — I think they do better when I do — my African violets at least bloom when I sing to them. 🙂 And my favorite songs are almost always those that Jeanette and Nelson sang together.

  8. Hi Kirsten!

    Yes, all of their movies are wonderful, but my favorites are “Naughty Marietta,” “New Moon,” and of course “Rose Marie.”

    Jeanette had a career before she ever met Nelson — so she was already a movie star. Nelson was an opera star who toured off season. Jeanette went to one of his concerts and then convinced the Louie Mayer I think it was at MGM to sign Nelson on — apparently the first time Nelson saw Jeanette, he fell in love and remained in love with her forever.

  9. Hi Mary!

    As Grandfather George says, those two were way suppressed. According to Grandfather George, who was an actor in Hollywood before his retirement, it was well known that Gene Raymond was homosexual — perhaps bisexual, but definitely homosexual. Jeanette didn’t know that when she married him, but learned of it the day after their marriage, and wound up in Nelson’s arms crying.

    MGM wouldn’t allow her a divorce and so she remained married to him, but in love with Nelson all her life. That book, Sweethearts, is fascinating.

  10. Hi MK!

    Yes, if you’ve never seen those movies, you have some wonderful times ahead of you. I would recommend Naughty Marietta first, Rose Marie next and then also New Moon and then Maytime. Altogether they only made 7 movies with each other, but those movies remain with some of the most passionate footage ever shot, in my opinion.

  11. Jeanette never really had both Gene and Nelson. It was apparently well known that Gene was homosexual (well covered up because Jeanette didn’t know before marrying him) — it was Louie Mayer apparently — according to the book, Sweetheart, that conviced Jeanette to marry Gene — a very bad deed on his part, because he knew that Gene was homosexual.

    Interesting those early days of Hollywood.

  12. I love those old musicals and although I must admit that NE and JM were not two of my favs, their moive Rose Marie had a little place in my heart.. After all Nelson played a Mountie…They are kind of dear to my heart… But there were a few other of thier movies I liked to, One called Sweethearts was good..
    I think they had a very rocky romance, but I believe she was married to someone else and so was he… But how wonderful that your grandfather George had first hand knownledge of the couple..

  13. Hi Kathleen!

    Yes, she did, and yes, he did, too, but there are stories behind it — again that book, Sweetheart, goes into this in detail. Thanks so much for your post. 🙂

  14. Hi Kay, I wish I could meet Grandfather George. You mention him so lovingly! What a terrific influence.

    I love movies that make me feel good. Which it why I rarely go these days LOL.

  15. I’m afraid I’ve not seen those movies. Sometimes it’s what you can’t have that seems more romantic/wonderful than what it possibly could have been in real life. It’s like thinking of first loves. But it does make an intriguing story.

  16. Really interesting article. I think I have seen those movies on the Classic Movie channel. I liked the old black and white films and the actors. Their story is similar to Spencer Tracy-Katherine Hepburn one.

  17. Hi Catslady!

    Apparently Hollywood executives thought the same thing — sad commentary on our “civilization,” I think. Thanks for your comment!

  18. Yes, you’re right. I hadn’t thought of that — Spencer and Katherine Hepburn. I loved the old movies, too, however, I don’t do much movie watching anymore — mostly I read. 🙂

  19. I wanted to say one other thing — it’s true that Nelson Eddy bought an apartment right across from where Jeanette lived in their later years. But if you read the book, there was a very good reason for it.

    Jeanette was in somewhat frail health after a heart attack, and she needed care and attention, which according to the book, Gene wasn’t giving her. Nelson got an apartment across the road from her to keep an eye on her and give her the care and company she needed.

    He planned on earning enough money eventually to buy a place for her in the country — but it didn’t materialize before she died. He was in Australia, I believe, on tour.

    I cling to George’s account of these two people who were so in love, and relish the fact that according to George, they are still madly in love and together.

  20. Thank you so much for the links to the songs. I never think of checking Youtube for these things. So happy to find another Nelson Eddy/Jeanette McDonald fan. I love these old musicals. It has been so long since I saw them – usually on the late night TV when I was babysitting, a VERY long time ago. It sent me on a long trail of playing as many of those great songs as I could find. It also brought up songs from my all time favorite of these old musicals, DESERT SONG. Love the plot (typical romance trope) and the music. Nelson Eddy did some of the songs on TV but not the movie.

    I had never heard their story. How very sad for them to be kept apart all those years and forced to make such awful choices. I do hope they have now found happiness. Grandfather George gives us hope.

    I love that this book is your musical. There are certain stories and characters that have a melody and flow to them. The characters deserve their song. In writing their story, you have given it to them. I don’t have it yet, but will make sure I get it.

  21. Hi Patricia B!

    Nice to meet another Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy fan. I fell in love with their music and their romance when I was around 10 or so…perhaps younger, I no longer remember exactly. But I never forgot them or their inspiration. I love the DESERT SONG, also. I can’t remember the fellow’s name who played that part in the movie — or her name either — they were beautiful and their music was beauiful.

    But there was magic to Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy — and I think that magic was real, true love. Too bad Hollywood execs felt they had to enrich themselves on something so beautiful and keep these two apart. How typical of the “corporation” and its group/collective “think.” No heart. But these two and their love will live forever so long as we can play their songs over and over, and see their true devotion for each other. 🙂

  22. Kay I loved the movies of Jeannette and Nelson.This is a story about them I didnt know. This reminds me of Hepburn and Tracy. They also loved till the end. I will be looking forward to getting the book when it comes out.

  23. Kay,
    The DESERT SONG movie starred Gordon MacRae and Kathryn Grayson. I first heard it in college and bought the record. Unfortunately, I have never seen the movie. It is only available in VHS. The TV version which is supposed to be closer to the original story and stars Nelson Eddy in his later years, is available as a DVD.. His voice is still wonderful. I have been playing the song clips from both since getting the links.

  24. Hi Emma!

    Yes, it really is alot like Spencer and Hepburn. I’d never really realized that until someone here mentioned it. I really loved these movies — Jeannette and Nelson — and I also liked Hepburn and Tracy — but these musicals speak to my heart. 🙂

  25. I didn’t know that Nelson Eddy did that version on TV. I’m going to have to look for it. I have that movie of Gordon MacRae and Kathryn Grayson — I never did get rid of my VHS player. Thank goodness it still works. 🙂

    They were beautiful, absolutely beautiful — but I must admit that Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald still have my heart. 🙂

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