30 December 2010

Weimar Cinema at MOMA

Weimar Cinema, 1919-1933: Daydreams and Nightmares, an exhibition presented by MOMA in association with the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation, includes screenings of 75 Weimar-era films and an exhibition of posters and stills. The exhibit, which started in November, will run until 7 March 2011. Die Frau, nach der man sich sehnt and Der Blaue Engel will be screened in January.
Count Ferdinand Von Galitzien has reviewed Die Frau, Nach Der Man Sich Sehnt at his blog.

29 December 2010

The Devil Is A Paper Doll

Yesteryear Once More has posted a Dietrich paper doll with several outfits from The Devil Is A Woman, released at the time of the film's issue as promotional tie-in's. Go take a look! Also posted is an Oakland newspaper review of the film from the time, which concludes that "[t]he picture is one to be avoided at all costs and deserves no rating."

27 December 2010

993 Park Avenue: Marlene Dietrich's New York Apartment

Marlene Dietrich settled in Manhattan's swanky Upper East Side after the end of World War II, when the world's most glamorous grandmother relocated to New York to be close to her daughter Maria Riva and her grandchildren.

993 Park Avenue went co-op in the late fifties and Dietrich bought an apartment in the building. The full service, thirteen storey Italianite block had been built in the teens by Bing & Bing. Dietrich decorated her modest apartment, number 12E (a two bed / two bath unit of 1600 square feet), in a mixture of styles: Louis XIV furniture was offset against glizy mirrored walls befitting a movie star.

Dietrich photographed in her living room for Life Magazine (1952).

When she wasn't travelling the world with her spectacular one-woman show, Dietrich divided her time between her New York home and a Paris rental on the Avenue Montaigne. Visting Dietrich in Paris in the late 70s, her friend Leo Lerman noted "[t]he podge of the [Parisian] flat, which I find touching and that Gray [Foy] says is so unlike her New York controlled elegance. I like both and find both very much the way she is."

After a stage fall in Australia in 1975 Dietrich went into semi-retirement in Paris, becoming increasingly reclusive. Her grandson, J. Michael Riva lived at the Park Avenue apartment during the early 80s with his then-fiance, Jamie Lee Curtis, when the latter was filming "Trading Places" (1983).

Dietrich died in 1992.

Her heirs sold the apartment in 1998 for $615 000. "I walked in and the place was empty and disgusting and old," commented the buyer, who intended to redecorate. ""I have these dumb mirrors, too ... Because she had smoked-glass mirrors all over the place, including in the bedroom, which I am taking off."

993 Park Ave #12E reappeared on the market in 2010. Without its famous previous owner's "dumb mirrors" and shag carpeting, the genteel refurbished unit was listed by Sotheby's Real Estate for $ 2 250 000. It has now been sold.

Refurbished kitchen (2010).

Master bedroom (2010).

Living Room (2010).

26 December 2010

Birthday Girl Marlene Dietrich's Violin Serenade

Original caption: Jack Pepper, Desert Sea News Bureau. Tribute to a Trouper. Las Vegas, Nevada: Marlene Dietrich held her stage presence Sunday, when suddenly presented with a five foot, 400 pound birthday cake during her appearance at the Hotel Sahara in Las Vegas. But when the curtain closed and the orchestra spontaneously serenaded her, Marlene proved to be a virtuoso by grabbing a violin and joining the orchestra. Marlene says she is 48.
[Photo: Corbis]

13 December 2010

Dietrich in Wales!

Anthony Brockway has an interesting post about Marlene's June 1973 visit to Cardiff at his blog, Babylon Wales.

(Photo from The Times, 5 June 1973)

Giacometti Letter to Dietrich Sells for $ 266 500

A letter written to Dietrich by the Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti in 1959 sold for $266,500 at a Sotheby's auction in New York on Friday, CBC News reports. The three page letter was written to Dietrich around the time of her 1959 triumph at Paris' Theatre de l'Etoile and features pen-and-ink drawings of roses.

Sotheby's Lot Description:
Autograph letter signed ("Alberto Giacometti"), 3 pages (10 5/8 x 8 1/2 in.; 270 x 215 mm) with 3 pen-and-ink drawings, Paris, 12 December 1959, to Marlene Dietrich; one vertical and one horizontal fold, minimal wear. Autograph envelope (signed "Alberto Giacometti"), also inscribed "Giacometti" in red ink by Dietrich.

12 December 2010

Everyone's Gone To The Moon (Candid recording from 1966)

Taking the legend seriously - Dietrich’s whip is her own tongue

by Rebecca Morehouse

Timing it precisely, Marlene Dietrich enters the Louis XVI Room of the Waldorf-Astoria. She has just been described in Ernest Hemingway's words —"brave, beautiful, loyal, generous and kind." She is wearing a black Chanel pantsuit, black shoes, a black slouch hat.

She walks to the front of the room, begins to turn left and right, obliging a phalanx of photographers. The room is packed with newspaper, radio and TV reporters. She does not bother to say hello to them. Her face is impassive, her manner says: "Let's get on with it."She is a legend taking it seriously, a queen queening it, a wild-animal tamer whose whip is her tongue. She picks up a microphone, walks to a chair, sits.

The questions begin."Are you tired of being called the world's most glamorous grandmother?" a reporter asks respectfully. Snap goes the whip: "That old bit. I gave that title long ago to Elizabeth Taylor." He gamely struggles on: "Is it true you mop the kitchen floor to work off your frustrations?" She: "What frustrations? I have no frustrations. I'm a very good house-keeper, yes."

She is standing now, the microphone in her hand. The fit of her suit is perfection: couturiers say no one is more demanding at fittings. Surprisingly, she speaks with a lisp. Are some of her teeth missing? Or is there a lozenge in her mouth? Impossible to tell. She parts her lips only slightly as she talks.Another question: "Do you still wear see-through gowns?"

"You have old questions," she says wearily. "The interviews are more interesting in Europe. They're more interested in artistic things. There is not so much interest in culture in America. We're the only country that doesn't have a minister of culture."

The press conference was called to publicize her first television show, "Marlene Dietrich—I Wish You Love," on the CBS TV network, Saturday, January 13, from 10 P.M. to 11 P.M. It pre-empts The Carol Burnett Show, was taped before an audience in London in late November. Alexander H. Cohen, who presented her one-woman show on Broadway, produced the special.She is reminded that she once said, "They offer me the moon, but I'm still a virgin in television. Who needs it?" Why did she change her mind?"I still feel that way," she said. "But Mr. Cohen can make me do almost anything ... I like live shows, I like to see live peformances. A small screen is really frustrating. TV is wonderful for people who are lonesome or sick." There is laughter. "Why do you laugh? I mean people who are ill.

"Television is rush, rush, rush. I started out at 4 o'clock and at 2.30 in the morning I was still standing there. We had two days. We should have taken a week." Alexander Cohen, seated near her, puts his hands to his face. "It's difficult." she continues. "I didn't have commercials on Broadway. As there are so many commercials, I can't do all the songs."

You're not doing enough to bring culture to people. People in TV programming think they have to appeal to the lowest possible intelligence and I think they're wrong."

She is slender as a boy: "I'm just lucky, I guess." From 12 feet away, her face shows no lines. the skin is smooth and tight across those high, wide-apart cheek-bones."Would you describe your beauty regime?" a woman reporter asks. She: "That's a whole story in itself. I rarely look in a mirror, except when I'm performing. I don't pay attention to myself." ("Just 24 hours a day," someone murmurs.)

Question—What keeps you going?

Answer—Demand keeps me going. I work out of necessity, like everybody has to work. I never really wanted to do something, I was pushed into it. I'm not ambitious at all. I like what I am doing now (her one-woman show) better than doing films. You are alone and you'd better do it well or not at all.

Q.—Don't you have personal goals?

A.—I'd love to work with Burt Bacharach again. Otherwise, I don't have any goals. I think he is the greatest composer since George Gershwin. I miss him very much, I wish him happiness, he's a wonderful guy. (Mr. Bacharach musically directed her Broadway show.)

Dietrich was born in Berlin, her real name Marie Magdalene Dietrich. After her success in "The Blue Angel," she went to Hollywood in 1930. Her first American film was "Morocco," with Gary Cooper. In 1937, she became a U.S. citizen.She has an apartment here, but spends most of her time in Paris now. She flew here with 22 pieces of luggage."It's easier for me to work out of Paris. When I fly to Israel, Russia, Japan, the flights are shorter. I like to work. I go to London all the time; that's where the great actors are, Olivier, Gielgud."

She refused to take credit for popularizing trousers for women: "I wore them in Hollywood in the 1930's, but women wore trousers in California then. They're very comfortable." But they do hide those fabulous legs.

Q.—What do you do when you're not working?

A.—I do all my own typing. I do busisess letters myself. By the time you have told someone how to do it, you have done it. I have no secretary. I do have servants.No, I do not live with my family. My daughter (Maria Riva, who acted in the early days of television) has four sons and lives in London. She no longer performs. It was sad that she gave it up. My husband lives in California. (He is Rudolph Sieber, a onetime film director who now farms. They were married in 1924 and have been amiably separated many years.)

Bob Williams, TV critic of The New York Post, ventured to ask her age and drew her sharpest scorn."That is the oldest question," she huffed. "I'll say one thing, I'm not as old as the newspapers make me out to be." By the calendar count, she is 68.

Q.—Do you ever watch TV reruns of your old films?

A.—I don't, oh God, no. I have better things to do than that.

Q.—How does one survive?

A.—I wonder.

(Inteview conducted on 13 December 1972, first published in The Baltimore Sun on 2 January 1973 to publicize I Wish You Love.)

03 December 2010


Julien's Auctions in Los Angeles auctioned a dress from Marlene's private wardrobe today as part of their "Icons & Idols" auction (lot #49). The Saks Fifth Avenue dress from 1952 fetched $ 1 152 (excluding buyer's premium).
Lot description: "An ivory and black silk dress embroidered with soutache owned by Marlene Dietrich. Labels read, "Salon Moderne/Saks Fifth Avenue" and "Saks Fifth Avenue/New York" with the following handwritten information: "Mrs M Dietrich/date: 3/14/52 / No. 706." The dress has been confirmed by Barbra Schoeerer of the Marlene Dietrich collection Berlin to have belonged to Dietrich. Marlene Dietrich became an unwilling fashion icon who insisted she dressed only for herself. In 1952, Dietrich was living in New York City. Unsized."

29 October 2010

In A Stranger Paradise

Marlene in Kismet (1944)
Costume sketch by Tom Keogh

One of Marlene's "Kismet" wigs from the MGM wig archive, recently auctioned by
Heritage Auction Galleries.

27 April 2010

Who Should Be Dietrich?

I've always wanted Uma Thurman to play Marlene. These pictures are from W magazine from a few months ago. They make me think of Frenchy.

27 March 2010

Hate to break it to you!

I know I've neglected this blog, but vicious rumors have been spreading, which have wrecked havoc on my life. I can barely bring myself to type out the sordid, malicious babble that is circulating, but I feel you loyal readers must know:


Indeed, it's listed on IMDB. We can at least try to rejoice in its status as "in development" and hope that Carol Channing comes crashing through the doors of the BBC boardroom, demanding the role that is rightfully hers.

18 March 2010

The face Schell couldn't photograph?


Just a Gigolo may no longer be Dietrich's final image. I am told that Dietrich's grandson, Peter Riva, took this photo in 1988. For a woman pushing 90, she looks swell. She even took the time to apply lipstick, although I can't tell whether those dark, sunken eyes are a product of cosmetics or dotage.