The dimwitted cartoon character Dudley Do-Right began as a spoof of a singing Mountie played by Nelson Eddy in a 1936 movie, Rose Marie.
Eddy was a native of Providence who became the highest paid singer in the world, appealing to both opera fans and shrieking teenaged girls.
He was born June 29, 1901, in Providence to William Eddy, a machinist, and Caroline Isabel Kendrick Eddy, a church soloist. His family followed his father’s work to Pawtucket, R.I., and New Bedford, Mass.
His parents divorced when he was 14, and Nelson Eddy had to drop out of school and help support his mother in Philadelphia, near her family.
He worked for a plumbing supply company, for newspapers and for advertising agency N W Ayer, but he was fired for singing on the job. He studied opera by listening to phonograph records. After winning a local singing competition, he embarked on a career as an opera singer.
Nelson Eddy got his start in Hollywood when he substituted at the last minute for diva Lotte Lehmann at a sold-out concert in Los Angeles in 1933. The audience demanded 18 curtain calls. Film offers soon followed.
He decided to accept the offers to broaden his audience. He is most well-known for the eight movies he made with Jeanette MacDonald.
Rose Marie was the most successful of them, the highest earning movie of 1936. Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy sold more than 1 million copies of Indian Love Call, their most famous duet. It was called ‘the ultimate Eddy-MacDonald moment on screen.’
In the film, Jeanette MacDonald plays opera singer Marie de Flor seeking her fugitive brother in the Canadian wilderness. She meets Sgt. Bruce, played by Nelson Eddy, also looking for her brother. They fall in love while singing overwrought songs to each other — high camp by today’s standards, but it earned them a passionate following in their day.
Their performance of Indian Love Call has been relentlessly parodied ever since. Bing Crosby and Nanette Fabray made fun of it; so did the Muppets and the films Little Mary Sunshine and Mars Attacks!
And so did the 1999 film, Dudley Do-Right.
You can watch Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald sing Indian Love Call here and judge for yourself.
Nelson Eddy died March 6, 1967. A Rhode Island hockey team, the Mount St. Charles Academy Mounties of Woonsocket, has Dudley Do-Right as their mascot.
This story updated in 2022.
Hey, I knew who. Two for two today!
Terrific article! I especially liked the part about how Nelson Eddy was “the highest paid singer in the world, appealing to both opera fans and shrieking teenaged girls.” He and Jeanette actually have several very active and adoring fan clubs, including the Mac/Eddy Club, which just had an exciting meeting in Sturbridge, MA, with another one coming on June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles. Check it out at maceddy.com
‘Indian Love Call’ was sung several times during the movie, “Rose Marie”, but the link you cited is only Jeanette singing the song. To hear the actual duet, including Nelson’s glorious singing, try this link:
Thanks for publishing my post. I tried to email the NEHS, but it bounced back – wrong address. Would you mind forwarding this message to them? You don’t need to post it. Thanks!
I enjoyed visiting your site and reading the article, “Nelson Eddy, the Original Dudley Do-Right”, but was distressed to find there was no other biographical information on Nelson, one of the most famous ‘favorite sons’ of Rhode Island!
To get biographical material, just check out one of any of these websites:
or the 25 PAGES of hits of Nelson singing (gloriously, I might add).
Nelson still has several avid and active fan clubs who still meet today – the MacEddy club just met this past Sunday, May 1, 2016. The next meeting is June 26, 2016 in Los Angeles, CA.
I sincerely hope you will add a page about this fabulous musician, and I will promote it among my fellow fans!
Thanks for your consideration, Norma McDaniel
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