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25 April 2016

Marlene Dietrich, University Lecturer?

Marlene Dietrich, Hotel Carlton, Biarritz, 1945?
If a Welsh warrior can metamorphose into a demigod king with a Round Table and an Excalibur, what could a Prussian girl from a good military family one day become? Much of Marlene Dietrich's life isn't yet a century old, yet research and memories about even the briefest of its interludes can muddle what must have once been solid facts into a slurry of legends. One of these moments in Dietrich's life includes her time at Biarritz during the tail end of 1945, where she was--perhaps--a university lecturer?

During 1945 and 1946, the Biarritz American University (BAU) educated G.I.s not in traditional classrooms but in the seaside resort town's hotels and villas, a much deserved respite to help these troops reintegrate into civilian life after having survived World War II. As if the luxurious locale wasn't enough, stars such as Dietrich reportedly made appearances at BAU to lecture and perform, leaving indelible impressions on the war hero students that sometimes veered toward the outrageous.

26 January 2016

Joe Carstairs' Private Marlene Dietrich Photos Up For Grabs

Marlene Dietrich on Joe Carstairs' yacht: Dietrich's home movies of this day can be seen in the documentary, Her Own Song.


DOYLE NEW YORK is selling some souvenirs of those golden summers Marlene Dietrich spent on the Riviera in the late 1930s. These are from the collection of Joe Carstairs, the heiress and adventuress known as the "The Queen of  Big Whale Cay" (after her island in the Bahamas, where she had hoped to install Dietrich , whom she pursued during this time, in its "Doll House"). 

01 December 2015

Marlene Dietrich, American Friend of the Hebrew University

Israel Demchick, Marlene Dietrich, Joshua Ellis, Selma Ellis. At American Friends of Hebrew University event, Philadelphia, October 2, 1971
L-R Israel Demchick, Marlene Dietrich, Joshua Ellis, Selma Ellis.
The partially obstructed banner behind them reads in full: "American Friends of the Hebrew University," the organization that sponsored the event. Philadelphia hotel.
October 2, 1971








During one of my regular Google searches, I stumbled upon a photograph of Marlene Dietrich that led me to the site bio of Joshua Ellis, who has had an illustrious career as a theatre press agent. Curious, I contacted Ellis to learn more about this photograph, and he surprised me with his kind and informative responses. Not only did he provide me with a fuller image, which you can see above, he also recalled the evening when he met Dietrich, which had nothing to do with the theatre at all. Everything italicized in this post comes directly from Ellis, including this anecdote of his enviable encounter:
I was a big fan of Marlene Dietrich and adored her one-woman show on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 1967.  I was 18 at the time. 
In 1971 or 1972, Miss Dietrich was given an award by Israel's Hebrew University for her fund-raising efforts on their behalf.  The award was given at a Philadelphia hotel, but I do not remember which one. I was there that night because my grandfather, a Philadelphia-based architect named Israel Demchick, was also being honored for his fund-raising efforts on behalf of the university.
I think many in the audience were intimidated by Marlene Dietrich and she was very much alone during the early meet-and-greet part of the evening.  I decided to go over to her and introduce myself.
First, I explained to her my connection to her fellow award recipient.  It was just the two of them being honored.

Miss Dietrich:  "You are very young.  Are you in school?"
Me:  "Yes, Miss Dietrich."
MD:  "What are you studying?"
Me:  "I'm getting my masters degree in theatre."
MD:  "The theatre?  That's ridiculous!  You should be studying something practical like chemistry or physics.  It's a good thing I'm not your grandmother!"
Could she be any more Dietrich?