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Gene Raymond

Gene Raymond, ca. 1945
Born Raymond Guion
August 13, 1908(1908-08-13)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died May 2, 1998 (aged 89)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active 1931–1975
Spouse(s) Jeanette MacDonald (1937-1965) (her death)
Nel Bentley Hees (1974-1995)

Gene Raymond born Raymond Guion (August 13, 1908 – May 2, 1998) was an American film, television, and stage actor of the 1930s and 1940s. In addition to acting, Raymond was also a composer, writer, director, producer, and decorated military pilot.

Contents

Biography

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Stage and movie career

Raymond was born Raymond Guion on August 13, 1908 in New York City. He attended the Professional Children's School while appearing in productions like Rip Van Winkle and Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch. His Broadway debut, at age 17, was in The Cradle Snatchers which ran two years. (The cast included Mary Boland, Edna May Oliver, and a young Humphrey Bogart.)

His screen debut was in Personal Maid (1931). Another early appearance was in the multi-director If I Had A Million with W. C. Fields and Charles Laughton. With his blond good looks, classic profile, and youthful exuberance — plus a name change to the more pronounceable "Gene Raymond" — he scored in films like the classic Zoo in Budapest with Loretta Young, and a series of light RKO musicals, mostly with Ann Sothern. He wrote a number of songs, including the popular "Will You?" which he sang to Sothern in Smartest Girl In Town (1936). His wife, Jeanette MacDonald, sang several of his more classical pieces in her concerts and recorded one entitled "Let Me Always Sing".

His most notable films, mostly as a second lead actor, include Red Dust (1932) with Jean Harlow, Zoo in Budapest (1933) with Loretta Young, Ex-Lady (1933) with Bette Davis, Flying Down to Rio (1933) with Dolores del Río, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, I Am Suzanne (1934) with Lilian Harvey, Sadie McKee (1934) with Joan Crawford, Alfred Hitchcock's Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941) with Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery, and The Locket (1946) with Laraine Day, Brian Aherne, and Robert Mitchum. MacDonald and Raymond made one film together, Smilin' Through, which came out as the U.S. was on the verge of entering the World War II. After the war, Raymond both directed and starred in the suspense drama Million Dollar Weekend (1948).

Death

On May 2, 1998, Raymond died of pneumonia in Los Angeles, California.[1]

For his contribution to the motion picture and television industry, Gene Raymond has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 7003 Hollywood Boulevard and 1704 Vine Street respectively.

Controversy

A 2001 biography of Nelson Eddy and MacDonald, Sweethearts by Sharon Rich, claims that Raymond had affairs with men during his marriage to MacDonald. The book includes documentation of Raymond being arrested on three occasions for sex with other men: a photo of Raymond's January 1938 arrest and booking number (page 498 of the 2001 edition); a U.S. Army nurse is named and quoted concerning the second arrest; and retired Scotland Yard detective Joe Sampson confirms the third arrest, which occurred in England during World War II.

The book also claims that Louis B. Mayer engineered the marriage of MacDonald to Raymond—even though Mayer knew Raymond was bisexual -- to prevent MacDonald from marrying Nelson Eddy. Mayer was concerned that a MacDonald-Eddy marriage would end in divorce, due to their temperaments, then he would lose his lucrative box office team. Also, Eddy wanted children and preferred MacDonald to at least semi-retire, which didn't please the studio mogul. While Mayer blessed the MacDonald-Raymond union, he had Raymond blacklisted following his 1938 arrest. After Stolen Heaven (1938), Raymond made no films until Cross-Country Romance (1940) and Hitchcock's Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941) -- previously he averaged 4 movies a year.

Notes

References

  • Daly, Maury. "Gene Raymond: Renaissance Man" in Classic Images (November 1995)
  • Eyman, Scott. Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005)

External links


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