Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, USA
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.
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.)
Raymond married Jeanette MacDonald in 1937. They remained together until her death in 1965. MacDonald died on January 14 with her husband at her bedside. In 1974, he married Nel Bentley Hees, who died in 1995.
A 2001 biography of Nelson Eddy and MacDonald, Sweethearts by Sharon Rich, states that Raymond had affairs with men during his marriage to MacDonald. In fact, on their honeymoon MacDonald caught Raymond in an embrace with actor Buddy Rogers. The book has documentation showing that Raymond was arrested three times for having sex with other men. This includes a photo of Raymond's arrest sheet in January 1938; a US Army nurse is named and quoted concerning his second arrest; and a retired Scotland Yard detective named 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 because of their temperaments. He was worried a break-up would destroy his lucrative box office team. Mayer was also unhappy with Eddy's desire for MacDonald to at least semi-retire so they could have children.
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. This is reflected in Raymond's cinematic roles. He made no film appearances between Stolen Heaven in 1938 and Cross-Country Romance in 1940. It would be a year later for his next role in Alfred Hitchcock's Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Prior to his arrest, he had averaged four films a year.
On May 3, 1998, at 89 years of age, Raymond died of pneumonia in Los Angeles, California.
FoFor his contributions to the motion picture and television industries, Gene Raymond has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 7001 Hollywood Boulevard (motion pictures) and 1708 Vine Street (television).
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