Sunday, May 3, 2015
Actor Gene Raymond 1998 Forest Lawn Glendale Cemetery
Gene Raymond (August 13, 1908 – May 3, 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.
On June 16, 1937, Gene Raymond married singer and actress Jeanette MacDonald in a traditional ceremony at Wilshire Methodist Church in Los Angeles. They remained married until MacDonald's death in 1965. According to press reports, MacDonald's last words to Raymond while he massaged her feet were "I love you." He replied "I love you, too." She smiled and succumbed.
In 1974, Gene Raymond married Nel Bentley Hees, who died in 1995. On May 3, 1998, at age 89, Raymond died of pneumonia in Los Angeles, California. Gene Raymond was interred with Jeanette MacDonald in the Freedom Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Glendale Cemetery.
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 1937 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.
Shortly after their marriage, there were reports of physical abuse. When MacDonald appeared with facial bruises at a Hollywood party, Eddy went to Raymond's house and beat him senseless in his driveway, nearly killing him, an incident which was reported in the newspapers as Raymond suffering an accidental fall down a flight of stairs. In 1938, Raymond began sharing a house with a 19-year old actor and was arrested on a morals charge after a vice raid on a homosexual nightclub, requiring MacDonald to bribe the authorities in order to obtain his release. Enraged, studio chief Mayer ordered MacDonald and Raymond to resume the appearance of a happily married couple and, to demonstrate his power over their careers, 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.