The Baritone


*by Vonnie




Nelson in 1930-1933


Young man in a hurry

In April, 1930 Nelson did what was probably his last Newton Coal Hour with a repetoire of favorites that included Duet from Samson and Delilah and Australian Bush Songs. On the 20th of August he made his New York debut singing in Beethoven's 9th Symphony at Lewisohn Stadium before an audience of 18,000..a day late because of a rain delay. An open air concert at Robin Hood Dell followed that with (according to the Public Ledger) “ the most emphatic success of any of the soloists of the season.” The busy baritone also gave two series of six concerts at Philadelphia's Warwick Hotel and there were radio sponsors lined up all around town. Nelson did the Atwater Kent Hour on NBC, the Congress Cigar Program on CBS and Mutual's Hoffman Beverage Variety Hour on WOR. Add an opera and a concert tour to round out the year and you can see Isabel Eddy's little boy was very busy indeed.

the Warwick Hotel where Nelson sang inside!

Robin Hood Dell where Nelson sang outside!


Listen to “Serenade” by Schubert a fan favorite back then.


MacEddy Magic/Colorized by Vonnie Krotts


Soon he was making news all over town!

      Philadelphia Bulletin 9/1/30: “Close to 7500 people gathered outside the Robin Hood Dell to hear the popular baritone. And no soloist in the season
      of summer concerts has been so uproariously received as Mr. Eddy … So much has already been written about Nelson Eddy, and he is so well known here
      that further appraisal of his work would be superfluous. Suffice it to say that he sang with the restraint and beauty of tone that have become characteristic
      of his work....He was in splendid voice and exhibited great artistry and that clear enunciation which always features his work. Mr. Eddy was bliged to repeat
      the numbers, both being received as thunderously as before. New York Evening World 1/8/31: “ There is also a baritone who has suffered. He is Nelson Eddy, who failed to reserve a rehearsal studio before his recent broadcast over WABC. Arriving there, he found them all in use. Being a regular fellow, without the usual affectations of temperament, he simply stepped into a phone booth and rehearsed by himself without piano accompaniment. The difficulties of getting a piano into the booth were found too great.”

Philadelphia Enquirer (Henry Beck) 3/7/31:“Composers, if you ask me, should be scurrying to have Mr. Eddy sing. When he sings them, songwriters will hear things they never meant to be there, that stamp the the songs above the average. Mr. Eddy's encore best illustrates what I have been trying to tell you for ever so long. He obtained the song The Bellman only the day before. He liked it, he said, and he hoped the audience would. From now on those who hear the song will be requesting it in the next and final program. It is a moody bit in which Mr. Eddy becomes not the baritone but the Bellman himself.”

Musical Courier 5/23/31: “Forced to cancel his annual trip to Europe because of his numerous summer engagements in this country, Mr. Eddy's bookings for next year have almost doubled. In addition to concert and oratorio work, the baritone will sing six leading roles with the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company.”


    Young man on the way up

    On January 9th, 1932 Nelson was interviewed by a columnist from the Johnstown Democrat. He asked Nelson what he had done that season. The golden voice
    answered “During the opera season I sang eight roles
    although I have thirty-three roles in my repertoire. I am now on concert tour, and I sing once a week over radio station WOR.” What Nelson forgot to mention was that he was already scheduled to appear in Elektra by Richard Strauss on March 3rd, play Count Gil in Secret of Suzanne by Wolf-Ferrari on March 10th and sing in the opera Marie Egiziaca at Carnegie Hall on March 16.

         Nelson merits a major article in the Philadelphia Evening News!

      “….He has no tricks of manner, no affectations, none of the facial contortions which mar a singer. His voice flows effortlessly and, as you watch him, you are conscious that he is not concerned with Nelson Eddy, or the effect he is having on his listeners. Everything he has, all his imagination, his intelligence, his strength, is poured into the music. He is absorbed in the role he portrays. The English cockney stands before radio station WOR's microphone, talking about the death of his friend. The singer's shoulders droop forward, he seems suddenly to grow small and frightened. “They are hanging Danny can hear the dead march play.” Danny marches again across the silence of the studio, the thud of feet, the anguish of the friend who watches him tramping along the road from which there is no return. There is no sound in the crowded control room in which we sat. People seem hardly to breathe. The singer straightens, his head snaps back, his fingers double and the muscles of his arm flex.

      “And he'll hang in “alf a minute.” the gorgeous voice rings out in the agonized protest of a helpless buddy. The music ended. Mr. Pasternak dropped his arm and the control room listeners did a thing which we have never heard in such a place and never expect to hear again. They broke into cheers. The singer could not hear them. He did not even glance at them to see whether they had liked his song. It was an irresistible expression of emotion.”

      “Mr. Eddy had gone over to a corner of the room and sat leaning forward in his chair, the spell of the song still on him. No one spoke to him. It was obvious that his fellow artists felt that a trivial compliment would be inadequate. They waited for him to come back from that land where Danny marched into the endless halls of time. “


      (Danny Deever was an 1890 poem by Rudyard Kipling set to music.)




Nelson Eddy Sings- Song of the Vagabonds - 1939 Radio Appearance

Danny Sharples


In October, 1932 pianist Oscar Levant joined Nelson Eddy on the Hoffman Variety Hour at WOR and stayed around for the rest of the year.

By the end of 1932 Nelson was finally “out of the red” and into the green. He owned two apartments, one in New York and one in Philadelphia, and, with the aid of a very business-savvy friend, had made some very wise investments. The baritone now had a full-time accompanist, a secretary and a maid-cook and had also made things more comfortable for his mother. While Nelson would always be careful with his new-found wealth, he never forgot the friends who helped him on the way up.

Nelson began 1933 with a new radio sponsor. Socony Vacuum Company on CBS radio. The announcer was Harry Von Zell, later a CBS staff announcer (Burns and Allen, Phil Baker, Fred Allen) and actor in many films and television dramas. Nelson also appeared on the NBC production of Showboat with Charles Winninger. Then, in January, he left on his East Coast tour.

Handsome, charming and talented! 

On February 27, 1933 Nelson made his West Coast debut in San Diego's Savoy Hotel. The reviews were more than enthusiastic.

San Diego Sun 3/28/33: ...(He) began singing encores after the first number and sang fiurteen in all, besides a program of songs and arias in six languages that would have exhausted both the vocal organs and mentality of the average concert artist. Although Eddy's voice is beautiful enough to be kept under glass, he doesn't hoard it. It would take several ages of writing to describe the beauty and excellence of Eddy's singing, the perfection of his enunciation, thecharm of his personality, his great dramatic gifts that make it possible for him to turn from pathos to humor to tenderness to wild fantasy.”

A Night with Nelson Eddy

Basil Nelson (Mac&EddyMagic) with colorist Vonnie Krotts

Nelson had no time to read the excellent reviews. The morning after he was rushed from San Diego to Los Angeles to replace Lotte Lehman, the internationally famous singer who had become too ill to perform. And, as before, the critics raved over his performance.


Los Angeles Daily News 3/2/33: “With handsome features, the physique of a college athlete, and gifted with an exceptionally fine voice, the outstanding things on his program were a freshness and vitality that is all too rare on the concert platform, a robustness and ability to sustain musical passages almost indefinitely clarity of diction and withal, a depth of feeling and remarkable dramatic expression that designates the true artist.”

Fresno Bee 3/8/33: “...nothing less than a sensation...It looked for a while as though the lights would have to be turned off on the crowd to get them to go home”.

  • But this time the film industry also heard the applause and by the next morning Nelson was besieged with offers from the major film studios. He thought very carefully and decided that he could reach more people with his singing through the medium of film as long as it allowed him time for opera and concert dates. Only MGM allowed him 3 months every year for his personal use. So he signed on the dotted line. As of June 1st, 1933 Nelson Eddy, Baritone also became Nelson Eddy. Movie Actor!

    Cool, calm and unflappable! !

    Next: The Baritone in Arabella's Scrapbook Part III.

    Fan Fare and Share

More scraps from my scrapbook......

An e-mail from Cecilia.......... dated June 4th,2006!

“I want to share this poem I copied from a lady at my first MacEddy meeting 2 years ago in King of Prussia, PA. The author of this poem won $5.00 from Modern Screen Magazine in Sept. 1937...

(pictures supplied by Arabella)


If fickle fate would only lend

me Gary Cooper for a friend:

Or give me just one hour alone

with subtly charming Franchot Tone.

Once let me dance with Fred Astaire,

Or rumple up MacMurray's hair.

And let me chat with handsome Gable

across some private dinner table.

Or maybe Frederic March would do,

his profile makes a lovely view.

I still would ask for one more,

and this I really do implore.

For my lasting full time steady...

kindly give me NELSON EDDY!


    Useless information I found on the way to something else.....

In 1930 Nelson Eddy sang his songs on CBS radio for Congress Cigars. The company was owned by Samuel Paley, a Ukrainian immigrant who knew everything there was to know about making cigars. Before long, his little cigar store grew into a very big company. Sam tried to pass his knowledge on to his son, William but Bill had other ideas. So Sam kept on rolling cigars, named them La Palina. William went out and bought 5 radio stations and named them ….CBS!

Oh, by the way, the lady who's picture appears on every cigar is no other than Goldie Paley, Sam's wife and William's mother!


William S.Paley

Samuel S. Paley

Nelson at the mike