The only career Nelson Eddy ever considered was singing. His parents were singers, his grandparents were musicians. Unable to afford a teacher, he learned by imitating opera recordings. At age 14 he worked as a telephone operator in a Philadelphia iron foundry. He sold newspaper advertising and performed in amateur musicals. Dr. Edouard Lippe coached him and loaned him the money to study in Dresden and Paris. He gave his first concert recital in 1928 in Philadelphia. In 1933 he did 18 encores for an audience that included an assistant to MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer, who signed him to a seven-year contract. After MGM acting lessons and initial trials, his first real success came as the Yankee scout to Jeanette MacDonalds French princess in Naughty Marietta (1935), a huge box-office success made on a small budget. Eddy and MacDonald were paired twice more (Rose-Marie (1936), Maytime (1937)) when Metropolitan Opera star Grace Moore was unavailable; they became an institution.