From the Archives: Nelson Eddy Dies Following Stroke on Nightclub Stage

Times Staff Writer

Nelson Eddy, a voice from the past, died Monday in Miami Beach after suffering a stroke.

A song on his lips, the 65-year-old baritone who sang to yesterday’s lovers collapsed on the stage of a nightclub.

Eddy was stricken Sunday night while performing at the Sans Souci Hotel. He had just finished one song and had started another when his voice failed.

“Will you bear with me a minute?” the wavy-haired singer asked his audience. “I can’t seem to get the words out.”


A puzzled look on his face, he turned to his pianist and said: “Would you play ‘Dardanella’? Maybe I’ll get the words back.”

Then he said: “My face is getting numb. Is there a doctor here?”

As his legs became rubbery, he was caught by others on the stage as he started to fall.

Death Due to Stroke

Eddy was taken to a hospital, where he died Monday morning. Doctors said death was due to a stroke, caused by a blood clot on the brain.

Private funeral services will be conducted Thursday at Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery, under the direction of Pierce Bros. Beverly Hills Mortuary.

It was a concert appearance at the Philharmonic Auditorium here in 1933 that propelled Eddy to fame. Following it he was offered a movie contract by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Eddy wound up making 19 films, but he was best known for his eight musicals with Jeanette MacDonald, who died two years ago.


Together they sang such numbers as “Indian Love Call,” “Rose Marie” and “Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life.”

Their movies included “Naughty Marietta,” “Maytime,” “New Moon” and “Sweethearts.”

In the waning days of his career, as he toured the nightclub circuit and gave nostalgic concerts, the songs he made popular for another generation were the ones the audiences asked for.

He once estimated that he had sung “Rose Marie” about 7,000 times.

Eddy was born in Providence, R.I. As a young man while working as an advertising copywriter, he performed on the side with the Philadelphia Civic Opera. He eventually appeared at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, singing Tonio in Pagliacci.

He made his last picture with Miss MacDonald in 1942, but in later years they appeared together at times on radio shows. It was while doing a radio bit with ventriloquist Edgar Bergen that Eddy sang “Shortnin’ Bread,” which then became his theme song.

However, for the last five years he hadn’t sung “Shortnin’ Bread.” Its lyrics, he said, are objectionable to civil rights groups.

In 1959, after 23 years on the market, his recording of “Indian Love Call” reached one million in sales.

Hearts Fluttered

As his blond hair turned silver, Eddy continued to sing, causing matronly hearts to flutter at the memory of a dashing young man in the uniform of a Canadian Mountie.

During the last years his night club singing partner was Gale Sherwood. He recently returned from three weeks of appearances in Australia with her.

Only last week Eddy had said he would continue working “until I drop” because “I love it.”

Eddy lived in a colonial style Bel-Air home at 166 Ashdale Place, with his wife of 28 years, the former Ann Denitz Franklin. They had no children, but she has a son, Sidney Franklin Jr., by a previous marriage.

Eddy also leaves his father, William D. Eddy, and a sister, Mrs. Lloyd Brown.