Phantom of the Opera

Jack Pierce was a marvellous make-up
man, and the best in the business.

Pierce had to keep simplifying
the Phantom's face of fire

until it met with Rains' approval.
Sensitivity to returning combat veterans,
many of them disfigured,

also caused the producers
to tread carefully.

As late as December 1942,
Universal's junior songbird
Gloria Jean seemed to have the part.

But when prerecording
started before Christmas,

the role of Christine
was being played by Susanna Foster,

a 17-year-old singing prodigy
from the Midwest.

Susanna had grown up in awe
of Hollywood singer Jeanette MacDonald.

She rivalled her idol
in beauty and star presence.

Christine, you're going to be
a great and famous singer.

The kind of a star Susie Foster is,
is somebody that you feel
is absolutely sincere in what she does.

She also had a voice of crystal clarity
and incredible range.

I could not stand these Cs
above the high Cs.

It was a pain in the ear for me,
but it was a great piece of art.

It made her famous, and she
was the only one who could do it.

Five years in Hollywood without
a starring role, it was a dream come true

when she was selected to play Christine
opposite Jeanette MacDonald's co-star,

baritone Nelson Eddy.
Nelson was thrilled about the prospect,
until Arthur Lubin told him
he would have to die his blond hair.

He accepted the role only when Jack
Pierce developed a special black hair dye

that would wash out each night.