Nelson Eddy and Company arrived in Sydney, Australia for their first nightclub appearance “Down Under”. Originally planned as a four week engagement at the Chequers Theatre Restaurant, it was soon extended to six weeks by popular demand. With standing room only every night it broke all house attendance records. In other words, Nelson, Gale and Ted wowed them in Sydney!
Nelson Eddy and Company!
Where they entertained...
...and where they stayed.
The Chequers Theatre Restaurant was a popular nightclub that hosted all the top performers to visit Sydney during the decade. There were glass doors (behind that car in the middle) and a wide carpeted staircase that led downstairs into the club. But by the mid-70s the place was in decline and closed.
The Chevron Hilton Hotel, Sydney’s first ‘international hotel’, was built in 1959. The Rolling Stones and other top performers of the sixties and seventies stayed there while they visited Sydney. It was demolished in 1985.
Mr. Eddy puts it bluntly....
By John Fitzgerald
The thing that strikes everyone who has come
into contact with Nelson Eddy in Australia is that
he is fair dinkum.
He has even gone so far as to slam a few doors
to give emphasis to a few points.
. He broke into musicals and later
formed his world famous partnership
with Jeanette MacDonald simply
because he was “the cheapest
baritone Hollywood could find
at a time in the mid-1930s when
even the big stars were accepting
. He will NOT discuss his personal
affairs -- his wife, his business
interests and so on, other than to
say that he likes to relax with a
paintbrush or a sculptor's spatula.
. He has no intention of ever again
donning a Mountie's uniform and
warbling “Rose Marie” to a 1963
version of Jeanette MacDonald. (In
case you think the original was
yesterday, Dad, it was filmed in
He will not appear on television
because he wants his act for more
nightclubs – not for millions to see
and then forget.
. He has no romantic attachment at
all with shapely comedienne Gale
Sherwood, his singing partner of
6000 nightclub shows in nine
years, and who will appear with
him in his first Melbourne season
starting at the Tivoli on Saturday.
. He will definitely NOT be
photographed without warning,
is not and never has been blind
(his glasses are for reading), he
occasionally meets Jeanette
MacDonald at parties. She is
retired but he goes on working
because “ I like it, it's fun”
Pretty blunt stuff. But Mr. Eddy has something neither he or anybody else can explain.
It is the sort of thing that for the last six weeks has packed 1000 customers a night into his Sydney nightclub shows, has led to stacks of fan mail, fruit deliveries to the hotel foyer and even bookings for his Melbourne Show from New Zealand!
Eddy set out in life as a newspaper
proof reader, and then an advertising
copywriter (he writes, his own
scripts for his show).
He got his big break in “Naughty
Marietta” with Jeanette MacDonald
in 1935 and then followed a series of
record-breaking musicals. He made
16 films in all.
His reappearance in a theatre in
Melbourne will be his first theatre
performance since his wartime shows
I suppose Mr. Eddy himself best
sums up this situation when he gets
to that bit in his act where he says:
“I met a woman in the hotel lobby
this afternoon. She came up to me
and she asked : “Weren't you Nelson
Gale's A Real Live Wire
Miss Gale Sherwood doesn't look or act in the least like a lady electrician.
She is tall, attractive, blonde, shapely and charming with loads of personality and an infectious, bubbling laugh which bursts forth at the merest suggestion of something amusing.
Most leading ladies of her standing
and glamor would be content to bask
in the spotlight's glow and have the
production side of a stage and nightclub act to others. Not Miss Sherwood.
When she and Nelson Eddy arrive in a new nightclub and begin rehearsals,
Miss Sherwood plunges into the task of taking care of “all the details”.
She ensures that the lighting facilities are adequate, prepares the lighting plot for the technicians, supervises the microphones and adjusts their balance and makes that the dressing rooms are outfitted to their requirements.
Her part in the organization of the act just developed bit by bit, in the same
way as the act itself grew. “After 10 years we've found it's better to depend
on nobody but ourselves,” Miss Sherwood said.
“In some nightclubs we've played, they have no such luxury as a lighting man, or the sound man is really a
television repairer by trade. So I've learned to do everything except splice wires”. “I'll learn to do that next year” she added with a laugh.
The show currently playing at the Tivoli is really a hard-working partnership, and praise for its success and durability should be
shared equally between Nelson Eddy, Gale Sherwood and pianist Theodore Paxson, Mr. Eddy's musical director for 37 years.
Nelson Eddy writes the material, Miss Sherwood organises the backstage requirements and Mr. Paxson co-ordinates and rehearses the music and musicians.
They employ no outside producer to control their act. They prepare some new material, rehearse it themselves, add to it,
subtract from it and knock it into shape.
While (Eddy) was in San Diego, California, someone suggested he employ a girl singer to enable him to do one of his musical comedy duets which he had made so famous in films with Jeanette MacDonald.
The auditions brought Gale Sherwood into the picture. Despite her extensive
career n musical comedy and operetta shows, she was more than a little
apprehensive at singing for the great Nelson Eddy.
“I had to take my shoes off,” she recalled, “because I was shaking too much in high heels. And Nelson cheated. He was not supposed to attend the audition , but I learned later that he watched and heard it all from behind a two-way mirror.”
“When I was first engaged by Nelson, I had to sing the Jeanette MacDonald
part in the duet 'Indian Love Call' from 'Rose Marie.' We did it straight then.”
“But gradually my part grew bigger. Two duets, three, then a couple of solos.
Nelson wrote special material for me, and we began to bring in more comedy, which I love, into the act. We 'send up' opera and the old style of musical comedy, for which Nelson was famous.”
Nelson and Gale making it work
On a bicycle built just for DDG (Drop Dead Gorgeous)
The Eyes Have It!
Nelson's painting of Gale battered and bruised from
being hung too close to a heat vent...
Gale restored...but was something lost in the translation?
“What did I do?