Nelson Eddy - Early Life

Early Life

Eddy was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the only child of Caroline Isabel (née Kendrick) and William Darius Eddy. His father was a machinist and toolmaker whose work required him to move from town to town. Nelson grew up in Providence and Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and in New Bedford, Massachusetts. As a boy, he was a redhead and quickly acquired the nickname "Bricktop." As an adult, his red hair was streaked with silver, so that his hair photographed as blond.

Nelson came from a musical family. His Atlanta-born mother was a church soloist, and his grandmother, Caroline Netta Ackerman Kendrick, was a distinguished oratorio singer. His father occasionally moonlighted as a stagehand at the Providence Opera House, sang in the church choir, played the drums, and performed in local productions such as H.M.S. Pinafore.

Eddy's parents divorced when he was 14, which severely traumatized him. Living in near-poverty, Eddy was forced to drop out of school and moved with his mother to Philadelphia, where her brother, Clark Kendrick, lived. His uncle helped Eddy secure a clerical job at the Mott Iron Works, a plumbing supply company. He later worked as a reporter with the Philadelphia Press, the Evening Public Ledger and the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. He also worked briefly as a copywriter at N.W. Ayer Advertising, but was dismissed for constantly singing on the job. Eddy never returned to school but educated himself with correspondence courses. He was bitter that his father refused to provide financial support after the divorce but in later years they had an uneasy reconciliation.

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