05 April 2014

Doctor Dietrich's Best Production? Her Daughter.

[In 1971, Jeffrey Archer organised a charity midnight matinee (to benefit MIND) at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. It was Marlene Dietrich's first  concert appearance in London for several years. This backstage interview  with both Marlene and Maria Riva, preparing for the show   comes courtesy of the wonderful Crees Collection.]


by James Green

September 1971: Marlene at Heathrow.
There are many ways of saying Darling. But Marlene Dietrich's way is unique. A mixture of warning, invitation, seduction, plus a mocking suggestion that the men are about to be separated from the boys. But “Dar-ling” she says silkily by way of greeting. And crosses to plant a kiss on my five o'clock shadow. Not at all a bad start backstage at the Drury Lane theatre where tonight at midnight she will hold the football pitch size stage alone for one hour, 45 minutes. It is a charity concert and the audience will be paying up to £50-a-seat to hear her sing 25 songs and turn on the living legend magic.

At the moment she is wearing a navy blue coat with matching trousers, and a floppy-brimmed hat in the same colour pulled down over one eye.

As she checks on songs, running order, lighting, I have a word with her daughter, Maria.

25 March 2014

Another Season, Another Reason For Making . . . Auctions?

***See photos of the auction exhibition here or here***

For some, spring cleaning means tossing that can of tuna six months past its "best by" date. For the heirs of Marlene Dietrich, it means holding an auction! Helping the "new online auction service for Art, Antiques and Collectables Auctions," Auction My Stuff, launch its site, "Marlene Dietrich: The World's Most Glamorous Grandmother" is billed as including property from J. David Riva, J. Michael Riva, and J. Paul Riva. That leaves out one of Dietrich's grandsons, which I leave for you to cogitate. In fact, I'm still pondering the matter, especially after great-grandson J. Matthew Riva surmised that "Massy would not approve" on the Last Goddess Facebook page.

21 March 2014

The Trouble With Lilly

In 1939, before America's newest siren citizen, Marlene Dietrich sailed for Paris, she stopped by at the New York the salon of Lilly Daché (another European export to the US) for some head gear.

"I want three hats, no more!" Dietrich insisted, but salesgirls aware of her penchant for hats did their job well: Marlene left with 30.

"Each of these hats present a new and important trend, and though all were designed especially for the lovely Marlene, she consented to let Daché reproduce them for the rest of the waiting world," fan magazine, Photoplay, reported to its readers as it shared highlights of Marlene's spree:

  1. Teatime — and breast feathers rim the crown and coque feathers grace the brim of a coquettish little hat of raspberry velvet.
  2. The rippling, off-the-face silhouette, providing again that headsize-hats can be smart without being deep and clumsy. Dietrich chose hers in red and black striped angora tweed.
  3. A little Dutch Boy's visor topped  by a blousy, beret-crown. Marlene chose hers in beige suede.
  4. Sleek-as-a-seal black ciré turban.
  5. Turbans are so important, we'll have them in fur, too. Dietrich chose black fox with a sentimental cluster of rose smack in front, and grosgrain ribbons to anchor the back.
  6. Dietrich sailed away in this one! Black and white striped angora tweed postilion with pointed bandeau-back and copper anchor.

Sailing of the Normandie was temporarily halted in New York while the IRS seized Marlene's emeralds in lieu of back taxes she insisted she didn't owe. They missed  her really precious cargo, though: the latest Lilly Daché creations!
Marlene was a regular customer, but apparently couldn't be annoyed by Daché's bills. In 1942 The New York Times reported that the milliner was suing her movie star client for $4 141, which Daché claimed was owed to her for "hats, headdresses, gloves, muffs, sleeves, chokers and earrings".

According to Daché, she and Marlene had reached an agreement whereby accessories were designed especially for Dietrich, who could reject any of which she did not approve. There were not many of these: of 98 items delivered to Marlene, only 18 were returned. 

The remainder included a Persian lamb and jet jacket (at $650), silver opossum muff ($250), white bugle turban ($150), jersey gloves ($ 18.50 for a pair) — and our favourites: a pair of embroidered sleeves ($79.50) and a gold-fringed evening hatpin ($52.50).