“Are you married?” asked Jeanette.
“Very wise,” said Jeanette, leaning her head in Nelson’s direction (King, 131).
Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy were well known as onscreen sweethearts, having starred in eight films together. However, they were also surrounded by rumours and innuendo that persist to this day, which speculate that they were involved offscreen as well. Books and websites (such as www.maceddy.com) describe evidence of an ongoing relationship that was quashed by the studio, and it is to this that King alludes. Both MacDonald and Eddy married other people and projected to the world that they were happy in their relationships, but they may have had a secret affair that ended in heartbreak and disappoinment for them both. The relationship between King’s Jeanette and Nelson is strained (she even implies that Nelson is a dog (133), referring to the way that he is acting towards Latisha), and this colours the way in which Jeanette speaks to Latisha. She speaks derisively about marriage, calling it a “mistake” (131), and asking if Latisha killed her husband; when she replies that she “threw him away,” Jeanette replies, “I love stories with happy endings” (135).
Latisha’s relationship with her husband, George Morningstar, is also strained and disappointing. His character is an allusion to George Armstrong Custer, which will be the topic of my next post.