Jeanette started performing almost as soon as she could talk and walk. She appeared in numerous kiddie shows including James H. Littlefield’s “The Kiddie Revue” and “Al White’s Song Birds.” In November of 1919, she followed her older sister, Blossom, to New York and managed to land a job in the chorus of a deluxe “tab show” directed by prominent choreographer Ned Wayburn. (This revue introduced George Gershwin’s song, “Swanee.”) During the next ten years, she made the most of her assets – enormous determination and stamina, a sweet voice, a melting gaze, a dainty ankle, and a cloud of red-gold hair – and worked her way up from the back row of the chorus to starring roles.
1919 – Ned Wayburn’s “The Demi-Tasse Revue,” a musical entertainment presented between films at the Capital Theatre.
1920 – Jerome Kern’s “Night Boat,” chorus replacement.
1920 – “Irene,” on the road, as the second female lead. (Irene Dunne played the title role during part of the tour.)
1921 – “Tangerine,” as one of “Six Wives.” Julia Sanderson starred.
1922 – “Fantastic Fricassee,” featured singer in a Greenwich Village revue. Good press notices brought her a role in…
1923 – “The Magic Ring,” in which she played second female lead in this long running musical which starred Mitzi. Reviewers picked Jeanette out for praise.
1925 – “Tip Toes,” a hit with songs by George Gershwin. Again, Jeanette had second female lead, supporting star Queenie Smith.
In Boom! Boom! in 1928. The cast included Archie Leach, later renamed Cary Grant.
1926 – “Bubblin’ Over,” musical version of “Brewster’s Millions,” starring Cleo Laine and Cecil Lean. Jeanette is still the second female lead.
1927 – “Yes, Yes, Yvette,” with Jeanette in title role. Planned as a sequel to producer H.H. Frazee’s “No, No, Nanette,” the show toured extensively but failed to please the critics when it arrived on Broadway.
1928 – “Sunny Days,” her first Shubert show. Jeanette played the lead and drew rave reviews.
1928 – “Angela,” in title role. Critics panned the show, but Hollywood star Richard Dix saw her and had her screen-tested for his next film. However, she couldn’t get out of her Shubert contract.
1929 – “Boom Boom,” with Jeanette’s name above the title. (Cast included young Archie Leach who later changed his name to Cary Grant.)
In 1929, the brilliant film director Ernst Lubitsch saw Jeanette’s earlier screen test (See “Angela” above) and cast her in his first sound film, The Love Parade, which starred the continental sensation Maurice Chevalier. Fortunately, this first of her 26 films was an enormous hit. (See Filmography.)
In the 1950’s, Jeanette and her husband, Gene Raymond, toured in Ferenc Molnar’s “The Guardsman,” with Herbert Berghof. She also starred in “The King and I” and “Bitter Sweet” at regional theatres.