04 May 2015

Dietrich - Fairbanks Love Nest, Gone and Dusted

When Marlene Dietrich went to London to make A Knight Without Armour for Alexander Korda, she took a suite at Claridge's. 

The set-up there wasn't very convenient for her then-current flame, Douglas Fairbanks Jr (whose flat was on Grosvenor Square): he had to make surreptitious early-morning exits through the servant's halls to get home and keep up appearances. 

It didn't take long for Marlene to move out of the hotel and into her own flat, conveniently directly below that of her "Knight". (Fan magazines gleefully reported about the Fairbanks-Dietrich-Sieber roundabout to their readers —  and, once Josef von Sternberg was discharged from the hospital where he'd been resting, he joined the troupe on their evenings about town, adding additional spice to the gossip).

22 April 2015

Peggy Lee & Marlene Dietrich: They're Playing Our Song!

Many Dietrich admirers know that Marlene never got around to singing two songs written for her, which have gone on to become standards: Autumn Leaves and Speak Low. (In  both cases, she withdrew from the projects they were written for).

Peggy Lee's biographer, James Gavin, adds another unsung classic to the list: Is That All There Is?, which became a late-career hit for Lee. (It is also the title of Gavin's book).

According to Gavin, songwriters Leiber and Stoller had Dietrich in mind when they wrote the song. Burt Bacharach arranged a meeting with Dietrich at her New York apartment where Jerry Leiber performed the song for Marlene, accompanied by Bacharach. Dietrich called the song "a lovely piece of material", and asked whether Leiber had ever seen one of her shows. Leiber admitted that he hadn't.

Then, in what Leiber called "the most consummate response" ever, Dietrich explained that she couldn't perform the song as "That song is about who I am, and not what I do."

11 April 2015

Kylie Minogue as Marlene.

From the spring issue of Sorbet magazine. Two of my favorites merge!