31 December 2011

Maria Riva's Blind Items Pt. 4

Click photo to visit Library of Congress site
for more information
One more post from me before the new year! I figured I may as well revive this series of blog entries, especially after discovering a photograph on the Library of Congress (LC) site--Marlene Dietrich, Rouben Mamoulian, and Amelia Earhart on the set of The Song of Songs. Purdue has a photo from the same shoot of just Dietrich and Earhart (although their metadata doesn't specify the film's name, it's clearly from The Song of Songs), as does Marlene Dietrich Collection Berlin (MDCB). A copy of the photo that MDCB shared in the newsletter is also available for purchase at Ebay.

About the LC photo, unless the "Recently Processed Collections" page hasn't been updated in a while, it appears that the Rouben Mamoulian Papers have become the freshest crop of Dietrich-related resources available to researchers. Browse the finding aid to learn more about this collection, which includes correspondences between Mamoulian and Dietrich throughout the '30s, '40s, and even 1960, materials related to the production of The Song of Songs (e.g., correspondences, memoranda, photos, and a script), and a jeweled cigarette case that Dietrich gave to Mamoulian.

And now for the blind item!

Miriam, was it you?
Maria Riva described what I assume was the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, which rocked the set of The Song of Songs. A "well-known actress" whose name Dietrich couldn't remember told Dietrich to calm down during the quake and not worry about Maria back at the Marion Davies estate because her children were also in Santa Monica. Dietrich then crudely pointed out that this actress's children were adopted. Who was this victim of Dietrich's razor tongue?

My guess is Miriam Hopkins (a name Bette Davis never forgot), who would have been filming Paramount's The Story of Temple Drake around that time, but I'm not sure. As far as I can tell, Hopkins had only one adopted kid (Michael Hopkins), and I wouldn't be surprised if Dietrich made at least one disparaging comment about her looks in Maria's book.

Think it was another actress? Let me know!

To read my guesses about Maria Riva's other blind items, click here

30 December 2011

Flickr Odds 'n' Ends Pt. 5

Here's a light and airy entry I've whipped up before the New Year's festivities distract me, Dietrich and Gary Cooper on the set of Desire. You can see the pair in the same threads here (apologies in advance for the unsolicited soundtrack) and here (the first photo in the second row), but I'm posting this photo because the fellow who uploaded it has many more well-scanned classic Hollywood images. Click and see:

marlene  Dietrich, Gary Cooper

 For those of us who don't read Dutch, I've been told this is a loose translation:


29 December 2011

La Dietrich duranguense

Andrea Palma, La mujer del puerto, 1934
Marlene Dietrich has influenced sundry entertainers, but I never knew that she became an archetypal performer within less than five years after her Hollywood debut, inspiring a fellow emigrant named Andrea Palma to transition from obscure milliner to iconic Mexican actress. I may be a smidge illiterate because I fail to notice in either Steven Bach or Maria Riva's tomes any mention of Palma.

Born Guadalupe Bracho in 1903 from a good Durango family, Andrea Palma was the cousin of two other famous Mexican stars, Dolores del Rio and Ramon Novarro, and the sister of director Julio Bracho (if you read Spanish, check out the biographical chronicle that informs this post, Los Bracho: tres generaciones de cine mexicano, by Jesus Ibarra). Of course, we're familiar with the dolorously gorgeous del Rio, whose beauty Dietrich admired (that Maria did confirm in her book). Even though I'd rather swim with the fishes than fantasize about them, I'm aware that some of you may find it titillating to imagine del Rio attending those mythical sewing circle shindigs.

20 December 2011

Dietrich's Fashion Advice for Dionne Warwick

Dionne Warwick's book, My Life, As I See It: An Autobiography, contains a funny anecdote about Marlene Dietrich tossing her clothes out because they were mere prêt-à-porter. Dietrich then played Warwick's fashion godmother by giving her a Balmain dress, which Warwick modeled on her Here I Am album cover (see left). Aside from gifts, Dietrich treated Warwick to her wisdom, such as the criteria for choosing a gown. No wonder Warwick called Dietrich "Momma"!

Now for dry technicalities. Did the Olympia concert in Paris, where Dietrich gave Warwick her big break, take place in 1963 or 1964? Warwick's book says the latter, while her official site lists the former. Whatever the case may be, I hope you enjoy reading from Warwick's book below:

19 December 2011

Dior Trick?

I've been reading that Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich, and Marilyn Monroe were digitally included in the Charlize Theron J'Adore Dior "movie" (is this what we're calling commercials nowadays?) that premiered this fall, but that Lola Lola doesn't look like a CGI Dietrich to me. Rather, she's a beautiful impersonator, no? If this doppelganger has any acting skills, maybe she can play Dietrich now that Gwyneth Paltrow thankfully no longer has the biopic listed on her IMDB page.

Venus, Untouched

I recalled that missladiva had mentioned Dietrich's involvement with the play, "One Touch of Venus," when I came across a biography of its producer, Cheryl Crawford. Even though "Surabaya Johnny" with musical saw accompaniment sounds like roaring camp, I can't believe Dietrich wormed her way out of two original Kurt Weill projects during her career. Aside from this play, which eventually became a star vehicle for Mary Martin (listen to her lush rendition of "Too Soon" with Kenny Baker here), Dietrich never recorded "Der Abschiedsbrief" back in 1933, which Weill apparently had written with her in mind.

To read more about "One Touch of Venus," see:

Also, read this for more on "Der Abschiedsbrief" and--even more surprising--a proposed Dietrich-Sternberg-Weill movie musical proposal that fizzled:

Others have speculated that Weill's compositions were too vocally demanding for Dietrich, but Weill tailored songs to his wife Lotte Lenya's voice, which Dietrich could have easily sung as well, knowing how to compensate for her weak diaphragm by emoting. In fact, many utterly unimpressive vocalists have put their spin on Weill compositions over the years (e.g., The Doors' version of "Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)" and Louis Armstrong's take on "Mack the Knife"). If I must settle for "Surabaya Johnny," though, someone please let me know whether any recordings of Dietrich's performance exist.

16 December 2011

Tsk, tsk, Daily Mail

Several months ago, I blogged about Dietrich's Rolls Royce featured in Morocco. Daily News has reported more on that car, which Bonhams expects to sell for around $0.5 million next month, and the article has used what appears to be the screen captures that I made. I don't care that people take content from this blog, but how tasteless of them to pass those images off as their own copyrighted material. I hate to sound so "kumbaya," but we should be sharing our sources when we spread information instead of presenting ourselves as the harbingers of facts for the sake of profit.

UPDATE: Read more about the sale of the car here!


When I babble about Marlene Dietrich's film characters, I tend to revert to her name, but the loner Lydia in 1947’s Golden Earrings was a creation that I regard as a true alter ego, paralleling in some respects personas such as Amos 'n' Andy. Like that pair, Lydia presented ethnic/racial stereotypes for comical effect, yet these characters diverge in terms of their historical background. Although blackface has been traced as far back as the Middle Ages in France, the blackface minstrelsy that tapped into American culture had developed during the early nineteenth century. As for Gypsyface, the only instances that I know to have preceded Golden Earrings were stage and screen renditions of Victor Hugo's novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Please tell me more about these adaptations because the 1939 film version is the earliest one that I’ve seen. In that film, the Gypsies don’t prominently embody comical stereotypes; rather, some are bestowed with sharp wit. Of course, Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda was so fair that I would more likely mistake her for an Irish Traveller.

In contrast to O’Hara’s gypsy performance, Dietrich’s Lydia embodied the phenotype, attire, and accoutrements of a Hollywood Gypsy (see here): a horse-drawn wagon, greasy black hair, bronze skin, a torn skirt, head kerchiefs, and gold coins strewn in her hair and sewn on her clothes. Lydia was also gifted with a Gypsy's supposed sixth sense: spewing garrulous curses, reading the mind of Ray Milland's character Col. Ralph Denistoun, and telling fortunes. When Lydia's supernatural powers couldn't aid her, she relied on superstitious rituals such as marking her chin to guard herself from the evil eye. In contrast to her broken sentences with omitted articles and botched conjugation, Lydia peppered her vocabulary with Romani words such as “gadze” (also spelled "gadje"--a non-Gypsy), German words such as “Liebling,” and Hungarian words such as “istenem,” evoking an exaggerated creole that Gypsies would speak after encountering multiple languages during their international wanders. By stealing apples and a coat, Lydia flouted concepts of ownership in a caricatured Gypsy fashion, too.

Aside from Lydia, other characters contributed to this barrage of Gypsy memes, such as Murvyn Vye's character Zoltan, who boasted of his fertility by claiming to have “thirty--and three” children and praised Denistoun for eating with his fingers. As far as Lydia was concerned, Denistoun’s visual trappings did not suffice until he pierced his ears to wear the film’s titular Gypsy symbol--a pair of golden earrings. Gypsy characterizations sometimes overlapped Black stereotypes as well, with Denistoun stealing a chicken from a coop. Paradoxically, this farcical imagery underscored the severity of Denistoun’s situation--survival in hostile territory. By upholding Gypsy tropes, Denistoun evaded his Nazi enemies and continued his espionage. In fact, Denistoun was able to reconvene with his colleague and learn about the Gestapo's actions under the pretext of telling fortunes. If Gypsies were the film’s archetypal tricksters, Denistoun was a metatrickster because he fooled friends and enemies to believe he was merely an errant buffoon.

With a penchant for reason, Denistoun resembled Shanghai Express’s Captain “Doc” Harvey when he told Lydia she would go to jail in England for her “hocus pocus.” Denistoun, however, suggested that the Lord’s Prayer could substitute spitting in a river before crossing a bridge, as if that act were any less ritualistic. While reading his colleague's palm, Denistoun unexpectedly foresaw his colleague's demise and later expressed to Lydia his doubt in his rationalist views. All along, Denistoun shared traits associated with Gypsies, which corroborated his realization, “Gypsy, gadze. Gadze, gypsy. It's all one, Lydia.” Indeed, Denistoun expressed assumptions about Gypsies (“I thought Gypsies always travelled around in caravans”), but Lydia and Zoltan also revealed their ignorance of gadzes. For example, Zoltan asked Denistoun whether gadzes bathe every day and blamed his father's early death on the baths the Hungarian army had forced him to take. Also, Lydia made an observation about gadzes that resembled the concept of white privilege: “You suckle pride and become ruler of world at your mother’s breast.” Perhaps you agree with Lydia’s statement, but my point in this context is that Gypsies saw gadzes as The Other just as gadzes saw Gypsies. In some later Hollywood productions, Gypsy characters exploited gadzes’ perception of them as exotic outsiders and used this status to con unsuspecting gadzes and elicit audience laughter. See this 1966 episode of The Andy Griffith Show:

Unlike this clip, serious references to ethnic persecution pervade the dialogue of Golden Earrings. Soon after meeting Denistoun, Lydia claimed that her husband had no papers, and that “they”--the gadze authorities--took them. Later, Lydia’s statements about gadzes became overtly bitter, such as, “In old days, they hunt us like wolves,” and, “One day in this accursed land, they will kill all of us.” Toward the film’s end, Lydia, Zoltan, and Denistoun boldly approached a home where high-ranking Nazi officials had met, and a houseguest declared, “We of the master race should not contaminate ourselves.” It was as if the film dealt with historical atrocities against Jews such as pogroms and the Holocaust through Gypsy allegory. Gypsies, too, were victims of genocide, and even though Golden Earrings did not entirely overlook prejudices against Gypsies, it did diminish the brutality that Gypsies endured during the Porrajmos by portraying Gypsies who roamed relatively freely through Nazi territory. Even the saccharine character development of Lydia couldn’t compensate for this historical omission, nor could her endorsement by a respectable Englishman like Denistoun: “You are the most wonderful person I ever met. Your generosity, and your warmth and affection, and your loyalty and devotion--you spill over with it.” The only other movie I know of that addressed both the persecution of Gypsies and Jews was The Man Who Cried, which I admittedly must watch again because I haven’t seen it in about a decade. If you've seen the film, please discuss it.

Of course, I can’t forget a woman who racked up three Billboard #1 hits in the 1970s by performing in ethnic drag--Cher. In addition to Bob Mackie’s peekaboo style, the imagery of Cher’s “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves” performance (see below) was rife with exotic Gypsy stereotypes, in contrast to the seemingly intimate lyrics that conveyed the desolation in which Gypsies lived as pariahs. Before the Kardashians, who made Armenian ancestry a brand, Cher had an exotic look that didn't fit the All-American mold. Thus, it's no wonder she performed as lyrical characters of Gypsy and Native American descent. Dietrich also played various ethnic parts, which her foreign image in the U.S. allotted her, but Lydia represented such a drastic departure from Dietrich's usual appearance that it came off as parody. Since her arrival to the U.S., Dietrich had perfected her international sensuality, and Golden Earrings was a unique film in which Dietrich clowned around with her non-native status, comparable only to that dumpy milkmaid disguise in 1931's Dishonored.

20 September 2011

Dietrich vs. Garbo

Even before she arrived in the US, Dietrich was being compared with Garbo by critics; today, the two are still compared. In 1938, Photoplay compared the two and declared Garbo the "winnah!". What's your take on these endless comparisons between the two?

15 September 2011

French Radio's Marlene Tribute

In August, France Culture broadcast a series of five programmes dedicated to Dietrich.

Subjects include Marlene's love life, her role as muse and the Dietrich-Sternberg collaborations. Archive interviews with Marlene are used, as well as new interviews with Silke Ronneburg and Werner Sudendorf (from the Marlene Dietrich Collection Berlin), Jean-Jacques Debout (whose songs Marlene recorded), Marlene's friend Louis Bozon and her grandson Peter Riva.

You can listen to the programmes on France Culture's site. The programmes are in French.

16 July 2011

Unissued Marlene: Aus der Jugendzeit (1954)

Marlene performs "Aus der Jugendzeit", one of a set of unissued recordings made in July 1954 for Columbia Records. The orchestra is directed by Jimmy Carroll.

15 July 2011

Candidly Marlene

Some interesting candid shots of Marlene from various old newspaper archives have shown up on ebay recently (many offered by this seller):

With Rouben Mamoulian (November 1935)

On the set of "Angel" with Herbert Marshall (December 1937)

With Van Heflin and Claude Rains during a radio broadcast of "Madame Bovary"

On the set of "Desire" (November 1935).

11 July 2011

Derek Prouse Interviews Marlene Dietrich: "I Hated Being A Film Star" (1964)

Derek Prouse interviewed Marlene Dietrich in December 1964.

What clues does the flat in the elegant Avenue Montaigne afford to the character of its celebrated occupant?

An uncountable mould of suit cases in the hall; a salon impersonally furnished, the décor of a constant traveller, a purposeful book case whose books are clearly there to be read: Goethe, Scott Fitzgerald, the collected scripts of Ingmar Bergman; a large photograph of General de Gaulle inscribed: “Pour Madame Dietrich – en temoinage d’admiration pou son magnifique talent.”

Dietrich enters: one feels instantly that here is a shy and private woman; the flowers one has brought to her she holds almost defensively before her face; this is a subtle way of saying “thank you” without words. She places them attentively in a large vase on a desk, and it capriciously keels over. Suddenly we are under the desk in a spreading pool of water and spiteful rose stalks. The ice is broken.

Out of the busy coming and going of the mopping-up operation a few random phrases are speared: “I’m not a myth” . . . “I never see the Press … why should I?” . . . “America? A country can stay young for too long. Everything that is new is still automatically the best there” . . . “The thirties? Who wants to hear about old films nowadays?”

“I do,” one asserts. Obviously, sooner or later we must speak of The Blue Angel and the man whose name was inseparably linked with hers for so long, Josef von Sternberg.

“Well, Mr von Sternberg came to the theatre to see some actors he wanted for The Blue Angel and I happened to be in the play. That was towards the end of ’29. I was at the Max Reinhardt theatre school in Berlin. (There’s not much done in the theatre today, and called new, that Reinhardt didn’t do first.)

“Reinhardt had four theatres in Berlin and in the evenings we students would have to go around saying ‘The horses are saddled’ in the first act of this play or ‘Here’s a letter for you, Madam’ in the third act of another – as part of our training.

“After the success of The Blue Angel I just went with Mr von Sternberg to America for one film. One film – and then if I didn’t like the place I would be allowed to leave. Otherwise I wouldn’t have gone; I wanted no seven-year contract or anything like that. I had to look at the country first; I didn’t know if it was good enough for my child. Then I saw it was good and brought her over and my husband came whenever he could; he was working here in Paris for Paramount. But then Hitler came in and we got stuck in America. The film I liked best? The one that had the least success: The Devil is a Woman.

“And after you left von Sternberg?”

“I didn’t leave Sternberg (the faintly weary voice suddenly rises in passionate assertation; the only time the deferential “Mr” is forgotten). “He left me! That’s very important. In my life he was the man I wanted to please the most. He decided not to work with my any more and I was very unhappy about that, before that, Mr von Sternberg had picked Rouben Mamoulian to direct Song of Songs and I love Mamoulian because of his kindness to me at that time. It was the first time I’d worked without Mr von Sternberg and I behaved atrociously. I thought I’d never do anything again since he left me.

“Perhaps I’m wrong to say I was unhappy – you can’t be made really unhappy by something you’re not interested in. My heart was never in that work. I had no desire to be a film actress, to always play somebody else, to be always beautiful with somebody constantly straightening out your every eye-lash. It was always a big bother to me. And I hated the stupid publicity that was created around one.”

“Like that much publicised feud with Mae West, for instance?”

“Not at all true. She was very kind to me. And she’s such a witty woman.”

The voice was becoming low, almost distant. “No. It’s so difficult playing somebody else. I like playing myself.”

“Is that way you prefer working in cabaret?”

“Cabaret!” (Suddenly, it might by Lady Bracknell confronted with the handbag.) “I never play in cabaret! I play in theatres; that’s quite different. Oh yes, I did play the Café de Paris in London and Las Vegas but that was five years ago, now I sing the songs I like to sing. I have no script and no director; I don’t have to waste my energy explaining why I want something like this and not like that; I don’t have to fight with anybody or say ‘Please let me do this.’ I explain to nobody why I come in from the right, the left or the centre. I stand or fall by my own decisions. No front-office interference; just my conductor, Burt Bacharach, and me. He is my only critic; if he says ‘Don’t do a song,’ I don’t do it.”

Dietrich’s long career has not been without its perilous impasses; at the end of her association with von Sternberg her stock was dangerously low in Hollywood. With Desire, that witty film directed by Frank Borzage in which she played an international jewel thief, she swept back into favour.

But it was at Universal that she made one of the greatest and most unpredictable successes: In Destry Rides Again, gone were all the glamorous trappings; the atmosphere of aloof, impregnable mystery that had always been her stock-in-trade was exploded. Instead, a brawling saloon-entertainer in the West, dodging guns and belting out “See what the boys in the backroom will have.” Was this transformation Dietrich’s own idea?

“No it was Joe Pasternak’s. He made the decision.”

“And you were in favour of it?”

“I needed the money.” Flat factual and forthright, this statement imposes a pause.

“But you must have enjoyed it.”

“No! (a protesting cry.) I – never – enjoyed – working – in – a – film. You have to get up at the crack of dawn, and then you have to get prettied up all day long and every hair has to match the next day and 60 000 people fool around with you. It is just awful. Anyone who enjoys that … (the voice trails away in speechless stupefaction).

“But I was grateful for one thing: the big legend that the Paramount publicity machine built up did, paradoxically, afford me privacy. I never like to talk about myself: I think that no one has a right to know about one’s private life and private affairs. Mr von Sternberg said: you have to give the magazines something to print so the glamorous legend was fine, even if there wasn’t a word of truth in it.” (The “legend” that was exhaustively “plugged” during the thirties implied that Dietrich was a Trilby manipulated by von Sternberg, her dark and mysterious Svengali.”
“But now I do the work I enjoy. I’ve toured South America. I’ve played all the Scandinavian countries, Russia, Israel, Holland and many others.

“But you always come back to Paris?”

“Everybody loves Paris – even Hitler didn’t dare to push the button. And Paris has always recognised artists; it understood von Sternberg and it understands Orson Welles. When I talk with him I feel like a plant that has been watered.

“And in Paris there is freedom: they let you live and nobody bothers you. You can do what you want, live with whom you want, and that’s wonderful – no? They are so full of their own lives that they have no time to bother about anybody else’s. I can go to the meat man and buy my meant and nobody pesters me. They say ‘Bonjour Madame Marlene’ and pass me by.”

Dietrich moves out on to the balcony. The Avenue looks bleak and anonymous but to her seems beautiful. “They’ve cut down my trees,” she murmurs wistfully. Chekov has taken over. But the telephone soon snaps her back to her intense professional world.

“I’ve just made a new record. I produced it myself. Fifteen songs of Berlin; songs of the town in the old days. Berlin always had something special; it was always in island. An island with its special kind of tragic wit without self-pity and without reverence.”

I recall Johnny, which Dietrich first recorded in 1929 and which is in her recent long-player. She sings in German:

Johnny, when you have a birthday
Come and be my guest
For the night

The singer, the song and the invitation seem to have gained with the years. The spell is potent and not easily broken.

I left, remembering Jean Cocteau, who told me just before his death that he had arranged to hire a copy of Shanghai Express (one of Dietrich’s early Hollywood successes). “I wanted so much to see ‘chere Marlene’ once more,” he said.

One sees what he meant: a legend can often boomerang, but Dietrich, by hard work and artistry, has kept hers meaningful and alive.

02 July 2011

Who's Afraid of Marlene Dietrich?

Here's Marlene Dietrich in her shiny black rain jacket with her "pet hate" Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Although Taylor appears either awe-stricken or amused by the legend standing before her, Dietrich seemingly ignores Taylor--perhaps exchanging Richard Burton's furtive glance? According to the account quoted here, both ladies unsheathed their claws, with Taylor emerging victorious. That didn't stop Dietrich--always such a gracious competitor--from generously bestowing Taylor with her title as the world's most glamorous grandmother.

27 June 2011

Throwing Shade: Homophobia In Riva's Dietrich Bio? Pt. 1

First and foremost, this blog entry represents my participation in the Garbo Laughs Queer/LGBTQ Blogathan. I look forward to continuing my exploration of queer/LGBTQ topics and encourage others to do the same. In this blog entry, I will give you some definitions of terms I'll use and then explore whether Maria Riva's biography, Marlene Dietrich, contains examples of homophobia.

With that said, I encourage you to use “throwing shade,” “homophobia,” “homosexuals,” “homosexuality,” and any other terms in the comments section. For the sake of mutual understanding, I only ask that you clarify what these terms mean in your comments if they differ from my definitions. Here's an example of why it's important to understand how people use terms in different ways. In May, a mother in Los Angeles calls her son in Melbourne to ask him, “When are you going to visit me?” The son says, “Some time during the summer.” June, July, and August pass, and the son has not even mentioned visiting his mother, infuriating her. At the end of September, the mother calls her son to confront him, “Why did you say you were going to visit me in summer if you never had any intention of doing so?” Taken aback, the son says, “What? It's not even summer yet!” Then, the son—who has been living in Melbourne for decades—realizes why his mother is confronting him and reminds her, “Oh, mom! We misunderstood each other! Summer in the Southern Hemisphere doesn't begin until December!” If the mother and the son had simply understood each other's different uses of terms, no hurt feelings would have resulted—at least, not because of the terms.

Now, here's how I'm using the following terms:

Throwing shade
- to criticize, demean, or insult; to diss or derogate (from here).

Homophobia – Throwing shade at homosexuals' homosexuality.

Homosexuals – People who express romantic and/or sexual attraction toward or practice romantic and/or sexual acts with others of the same sex or gender (adapted from here).

– Expressing romantic and/or sexual attraction toward or practicing romantic and/or sexual acts with others of the same sex or gender.


In his March 5 1993 Entertainment Weekly (EW) review of Maria Riva's Marlene Dietrich, George Hodgman stated the following: “The catalog of lovers is interminable, moving across gender lines and back again. Riva is obviously uncomfortable with her mother's bisexual tendencies and her large gay following. The case that she builds against her mother for trying to encourage homosexuality in the young girl by leaving her with a lesbian nanny is shoddy and homophobic.” Due perhaps to word limits, Hodgman did not supply examples of how Riva expressed her discomfort, and he omitted an important detail: Riva wrote that the lesbian nanny had raped her. If I accept Riva's admission of rape as truth, I would posit that Riva's speculation regarding why her mother chose a lesbian nanny was not homophobic; rather, the homophobia in Riva's case rests in how she characterized her lesbian nanny: “Strangely, I never really blamed that woman. She frightened me, disgusted me, harmed me, but 'blame'? Why? Lock an alcoholic into a liquor store and he helps himself—who's to blame? The one who takes what is made available or the one who put him there? Even an innocent parent would not have put a young girl into an unsupervised, wholly private environment with such a visually obvious lesbian.” Not only did Riva compare lesbianism to an addiction, she also asserted that a blatant lesbian shouldn't be a girl's primary caretaker, thus throwing shade at “obvious” lesbians as sexual predators with an appetite for female children. By the way, a 2010 study showed that ZERO percent of its adolescent participants had reported sexual abuse by a lesbian mother or other lesbian caretaker. While this study was flawed in its nonrandom, non-diverse, and small sample, its findings suggest that the experience that Riva suffered was a singular exception. Unless, of course, the sample was composed of only lipstick lesbians.

If you want to explore Hodgman's observation that Riva was “obviously uncomfortable with her mother's bisexual tendencies and her large gay following,” please consider addressing it in the comments section because I won't investigate it at this time. Instead, I will explore whether there were any other instances of homophobia in Riva's book by examining her descriptions of homosexuals. Keep in mind that I will continue listing people in future blog entries--this is only the beginning!

Banton & Dietrich on Angel set
Travis Banton (see this blog entry for another photo of him with Dietrich) – I don't know whether Banton was homosexual, but some sources report that he was. Riva did not overtly mention his sexuality in her book; in fact, she recalled that she “liked him. No matter what time of day, and that could mean anywhere from six a.m. To two a.m., Travis looked like one of his sketches—elegant, with a kind of razzmatazz.” Riva also praised Banton for treating his staff kindly and crediting him for introducing her to American cuisine, with no hints of homophobia.

Mercedes de Acosta
Mercedes de Acosta – Riva threw ample shade at de Acosta, calling her “a Spanish Dracula,” implying that she wasn't a skilled screenwriter, and stating that her renown derived from her romance with Greta Garbo. Throwing shade at homosexuals wouldn't alone count as homophobia according to my definitions, though. Riva would have to throw shade at their homosexuality, and I don't see anything homophobic in Riva's countless jabs at de Acosta. Rather, Riva seemed to tease de Acosta's purple prose (particularly de Acosta's “highly romantic pseudonyms”) and tedious romantic efforts (“She was so 'smitten,' she was boring!”).

The “boys” (see this blog entry for their possible identities) – Riva referred to them as “comic relief,” “an odd couple,” “their kind,” “scavengers,” and “homosexual cons.” The use of the word “homosexual” was gratuitous, but I don't consider the shade that Riva threw to be homophobic. Riva was describing a particular group of gossipy sycophants who happen to be gay, and she cleverly quoted a gay man, Clifton Webb, as calling the boys “Dietrich's private Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.”

The Pirate (right)
The “Pirate” (see this blog entry for her possibly identity) – Riva buried this woman's looks in shade. Despite describing that the Pirate as “a sexy, flat-chested woman” first mistaken as “a sexy boy,” Riva compared her to a rhinoceros. Poking fun at a person's looks doesn't constitute homophobia, though, and the preceding comments that Riva did make regarding the Pirate's masculinity were not demeaning.

Well, here's where I'll end this blog entry, and I will pick up from where I left off to continue reviewing whether Riva wrote homophobic portrayals of others, including Edith Piaf and Noel Coward.

23 June 2011

On Hollywood Memorabilia And Museums

Unrelated photo of M.D. and Billy Wilder from here
Recently, I read a blog entry about the Debbie Reynolds auction that prompted me to write a lengthy comment. The comment is pending the blog owner's approval, but I want to post it here to initiate a dialogue with all of you regarding the role and responsibility of museums to manage Hollywood memorabilia. I'll edit it to give you all a better understanding because I make a lot of local Los Angeles references and--as you have perhaps already observed--often correct typos and undesirable diction.

Thanks for posting what may be the most comprehensive overview of Debbie Reynolds' collection efforts. I have been seeking such an article since I read about the big auction and failed to find one until I stumbled upon your blog. This situation reminded me of Maria Riva's claim that that she offered her mother Marlene Dietrich's estate as a donation to American film museums (see this video), and when no one showed interest, Riva reportedly sold it to the city of Berlin for $5 million, which subsequently made the Filmmuseum Berlin [note: then known as Deutsche Kinemathek, no?] its caretaker. The contradiction between donation and sale makes me wonder whether Riva acted solely as an altruist, and I harbor similar suspicions about Debbie. Certainly, I wouldn't blame either woman for making money (or, in Debbie's case, attempting to recuperate money) from a Hollywood collection. If it's their property, they have every right to sell it.

On another note related to this blog entry, the contradiction between donation and sale also reminds me that the distinction between culture and commodity can be blurred, which is why I wouldn't consider Debbie's auction items national treasures. Debbie's former possessions have made a cultural impact in films, but they are also the products of profit-driven movie studios, which do not uphold all the criteria of non-profit institutions such as museums. For the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) or another local museum to accept Hollywood memorabilia, the following criteria would have to be met: first, the memorabilia would have to promote the museum's mission; second, the memorabilia would have to be affordable; third, the museum would require the staff and space to properly preserve the memorabilia; fourth, these staff and this space would have to be affordable. 

When movie studios such as MGM housed old costumes, they had to deal with the second, third, and fourth criteria, but because they are businesses, they had no obligation to accept the most important criterion, the first one. If a business needs money to stay afloat, it will sell its assets; museums could never ethically follow such a model (although some have, e.g. the Hermitage Museum when its hometown was called Leningrad). Certainly, the memorabilia from Debbie's collection would meet the mission of LACMA and even the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), but I don't know whether any museums in the United States let alone in L.A. have the money, staff, and space to properly preserve items such as costumes—and such an extensive collection as Debbie's was. Only the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) Museum comes to mind as a local option, but I can only say with certainty that they have the staff to care for what Debbie sold. As for financial means and space—I don't know. They thrive on donations—dress and textile as well as financial—which suggests that unless someone donates a multimillion-dollar Monroe gown or donates millions so they can purchase a Monroe gown, they can't afford to play with the big spenders at auctions.

Personally, I would love to see every museum, library, and archive object (Hollywood memorabilia, fine art, cuneiform, what have you) digitized in a high-quality three-dimensional form to maximize their accessibility so that people who might never even have a chance to visit an institution could view and research its holdings, but I know the costs of my dreams are currently nowhere near the reality of any institution's budget.

22 June 2011

Beyonce For L'Uomo Vogue

Folks didn't flock to bid on Marlene Dietrich's "Boys in the Backroom" ensemble at Debbie Reynolds' recent auction, but celebrities continue to emulate La Dietrich in fashion magazines. Sometimes their intentions are questionable, and other times they genuinely pay respect, as Beyonce did at L'uomo Vogue. Although the intertitle would have been a more appropriate nod to Pola Negri or some other actress who peaked in silent films, Beyonce faithfully recreated two of Dietrich's most iconic looks--the swansdown coat and the top hat and tails. Manning the camera, Francesco Carrozzini snapped shots of Beyonce's prominent cheekbones in black-and-white and in color, but Beyonce's poses suggested a Dietrichian intimacy with her key light. Just as Dietrich couldn't play Catherine the Great without playing Dietrich, Beyonce couldn't play Dietrich without playing Beyonce--her hair flips making me wish for a Sasha Fierce "Diva" redux.

If questions of race came to your mind when you saw these Beyonce images, let me state that the video and photos reminded me of various analyses I've read regarding race and Marlene Dietrich's "Hot Voodoo" performance in Blonde Venus. I recently stumbled upon this blog entry by Natalia Cecire that drew from Mary Anne Doane's discussion of "Hot Voodoo," emphasizing the following concepts: white femininity representing unstable sexual purity, black masculinity representing sexual impurity, and black femininity remaining invisible. Cecire and Doane slightly weakened this last point by acknowledging the black(face) female troupe onstage during Dietrich's "Hot Voodoo" performance, who stood conspicuously behind an afroed Dietrich, but Cecire and Doane noted the insignificant and ornamental role of the dancers, calling them "props" and "mise-en-scene" respectively. EDIT 2: Additionally, "Hot Voodoo"'s song lyrics countered the claim that black female sexuality was invisible because Dietrich sang, "I'm beginning to feel like an African queen." Thus, black femininity was not only visible but also prominently typified sexual impurity in the "Hot Voodoo" sequence.

If I were to continue Cecire and Doane's comparisons, I'd add that this reduction of black women to stage decor valued only for their skin color subsequently minimized their skin color to a mere color. Just as an interior decorator could have a table painted red, a director could have a woman painted in blackface. Let me interject one admission: I am not certain as Doane was that the chorus girls were primarily white; some could be white, black, Latina, mixed, etc., but all we see is their uniform skin tone, exemplifying a sensibility expressed by "Blonde Venus" director Josef von Sternberg in Fun in a Chinese Laundry. Relating a story about a bearded extra who demanded to know his motivation for walking across the set of another director's film, von Sternberg revealed that this extra was replaced by another wearing a fake beard. Then, von Sternberg asserted that an actor "is no more than a small part of the entire chiaroscuro."

I don't know why von Sternberg opted for blackface instead of black skin, and while Cecire and Doane's depictions of these dancers-as-decor correlated with von Sternberg's description of actors as elements of his film canvas, I can't fully endorse Cecire's observation that "blackness becomes yet another prop for fully commodified white female sexuality."*** According to how von Sternberg objectified actors, white female Dietrich would be as much a prop as the troupe in blackface. In fact, black people were one of many groups whose look von Sternberg appropriated in his films with Dietrich--for example, Chinese people in Shanghai Express, Spanish people in The Devil Is A Woman, and Russian people in The Scarlet Empress. As for the presence of commodified white female sexuality in the "Hot Voodoo" scene, we could say that Dietrich's character used her sexuality to sell her show, ultimately to help pay for her husband's radium treatment. Indeed, in other von Sternberg-Dietrich films, we can enumerate many examples, the most blatant perhaps being Dietrich's role as a prostitute-turned-spy who used her sexuality to earn money (as a prostitute) and learn military secrets (as a spy) in Dishonored. I'd only add that in von Sternberg's films, Dietrich's characters held or eventually snatched the purse strings of their white female sexuality. The Scarlet Empress illustrated this inevitable act, with Dietrich's character initially a hapless Prussian princess brought to Russia to bear a male heir to the throne, hardly different than a female panda shipped to a British zoo as part of a breeding program. Later, Dietrich's character took the reins of her sexuality to woo suitors stronger and more attractive than her spouse, bear the needed heir, and usurp the Russian throne.

***Some time, I would like to accept this premise to explore how Beyonce inverted it. In other words, I'd be interested in assessing how Beyonce used (Dietrich's masculine and feminine?) whiteness as a prop for her commodified black female sexuality. Evidence I might use to support Beyonce's commodification of her sexuality as a black woman would include her House of Dereon fashion line and a term she coined--"bootylicious." Such a discourse would draw too much attention away from this blog's star, Marlene Dietrich, so I'll leave it for another outlet. If you would like to discuss it, though, please do and please discuss anything else that comes to your mind in relation to this blog entry. EDIT: Can't help but touch this topic a little more because it struck me that Beyonce lit white female mannequins--props, if you will--on fire in the "Diva" video (linked in this blog entry). EDIT 2: Keeping the aforementioned concepts in mind, what intrigues me about Beyonce is that her entertainment career took off in the 1990s, when black female sexuality became increasingly visible in commercially successful songs by black male entertainers (from Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" in 1992 to D'Angelo's "Brown Sugar" in 1995). Of course, there was no reason why men alone should profit from this emerging visibility, and Beyonce--like Dietrich's characters in von Sternberg's films--has successfully wrested black female sexuality to commodify it herself. Moreover, Beyonce has begun creating unique business ventures to sell multiracial female sexuality, which could be another way that I regard the House of Dereon, which bears the maiden name of Beyonce's Creole grandmother. With her recent single "Run the World (Girls)," Beyonce's marketing radical feminism, displaying impressive performance finesse and special effects.

19 June 2011

The Legionnaire and the Lady

Dietrich (a la Tante Valli?) & Clark Gable, Lux Radio Theater
When Marlene Dietrich first performed on Lux Radio Theater, the CBS-run program had recently begun airing from Hollywood with Cecil B. DeMille as its presenter. Not only was Dietrich's Lux Radio Theater debut an adaptation of her American debut film Morocco, it was also Lux Radio Theater's first film adaptation. In this June 1 1936 broadcast, called The Legionnaire and the Lady, Clark Gable took over the role of Gary Cooper, who coincidentally sat in the star-studded audience. Dietrich did not replicate Amy Jolly's drag king act, but she maintained the controlled cadence of her silver screen character, despite having mastered English so well that she had earned a reputation for critiquing her film scripts. Around the time of this broadcast, Dietrich had returned to Los Angeles from Arizona to complete another desert drama, The Garden of Allah, whose dialogue left a taste like rancid halvah in its stars' mouths and which failed to repeat Morocco's success.

Listen to The Legionnaire and the Lady below, or download it from Internet Archive. See photos from the Lux Radio Theater show at IMDB (with inaccurate dates).

18 June 2011

Marlene Dietrich Costume Sells for $ 8 000

Marlene Dietrich's Destry Rides Again costume, offered at the Profiles of History auction of items from the collection of Debbie Reynolds, sold for $ 8 000 (buyer's premium excluded), the low end of their estimate. There was only one bid for the item.

When the costume was previously offered at auction a decade ago (probably when it was bought by Debbie Reynolds), it sold for $ 19 000.

17 June 2011

Dietrich's First Rolls Royce--A Barn Find?

This unrestored 1929 (or was it 1930?) Rolls Royce Phantom, which was on display at the Saratoga Automobile Museum in 2007, was reportedly Marlene Dietrich's first set of wheels in Hollywood. Like many Dietrichian legends, this one is shrouded in conflicting details that may frustrate the fact-finders among you. Simply identifying who gave Dietrich this vehicle will make one's head spin. Was it her movie studio Paramount? Was it her "producer" Josef von Sternberg? Or was it inexplicably Warner Bros. exec Jack Warner? Clearly, it was Mr. Warner, consoling Dietrich over a decade in advance for having to play Edward G. Robinson's wife (image from Film Noir Photos) in Manpower. If it were Dietrich's "producer" von Sternberg, we need to get the facts straight. Gregory Peck was not the lead actor in Morocco--everyone knows Paul Robeson played opposite Dietrich! Read more about this vehicle's "history" below, and you will learn a new nickname for Maria Riva (no, not Heidede or The Child!):

According to the above, the vehicle was most recently owned by Kansas-based Roger Morrison, and this link suggests that Morrison (or whoever the current proprietor is) has taken efforts to restore the Phantom to its former green glory. In that link, you should also note that the two Dietrich photos appear to feature different cars; compare the convertible tops, the tires, and--most significantly--the metalwork around the tires.

If reading the above tortured you, be relieved the know that a more likely back-story regarding this vehicle appears here. Furthermore, you can read about other cars associated with Dietrich here.

EDITED TO ADD: I just skimmed through Morocco and noticed the car in 3 scenes.

First, when Dietrich bids Gary Cooper farewell...

Second, after Dietrich and Adolphe Menjou ditch a dinner party to see whether Cooper has been injured...

Finally, when Dietrich leaves Menjou to follow Cooper into the desert...

EDIT AGAIN: Thanks, Daily Mail, for showing your love for these screen caps!

Incidentally, this car sold for a jaw-dropping figure.

16 June 2011

Got Dietrich Under Your Skin?

Do any of you have Marlene Dietrich tattoos? Below are some inked renderings of La Dietrich, perhaps an intriguing way to avoid licensing permissions. For those of you with tattoos, why do you think all these people have Marlene on their limbs? Because those body parts are more visible, or because those body parts are less sensitive to pain?

tattoo portrait Marlene Dietrich by Mirek vel Stotker

15 June 2011

Marlene Dietrich Stoops To Conquer The Press

from: Sydney Morning Herald,
22 September 1975

Marlene Dietrich turned the tables on the press at the weekend by giving a press conference.
In recent years Miss Dietrich has been as loath to talk to the press as her 1930s rival, Greta Garbo.

On Saturday she spent 40 minutes sitting in the sunlight at the Loft at the top of the Boulevarde Hotel talking and talking.

She talked, rather than answered questions, on almost everything from photographers - "I hate them" - to relaxing - "I don't."

Miss Dietrich put everyone at ease. She was asked: "Will you ever make another film?"
She would not.

Not even a film about her own life? "Oh dear, I'd be bored stiff!" she said.

According to Dr Roger Manvell's Encyclopaedia of Film, she is probably 74 years old. Whatever her age, she certainly did not look a day older.

she wore a stylish but simple brown pants suit with a matching peaked cap. She wore a modest amount of makeup, with or without which, the mildly mocking Dietrich eyes were as recognisable as ever.

"Why was she talking to the press?"

"It's him, Mr Smith persuaded me," she said indicating Cyril Smith, the promoter of her show which opens at Her Majesty's Theatre tonight.

Why had she avoided talking to the press before?

"I haven't given any interviews since 1972. In 1972 someone wrote a very misquoting article about me.

"Anything you can ever read in the papers you can never believe. You are newspapermen, you know how they make it up," she said with a look which suggested there was a hint of something more in her jest.

Questions about her films prompted no nostalgia.

"Let's get one thing straight, don't mix me up with my movies. On stage, in my show, I am myself but not in films.

"When I was young I played a tart in a red light district. I would not have chosen it for myself.
"I was supposed to be the Blue Angel but it was nothing to do with me. They said can you play a tart in a harbour town? I said yes, I suppose I can, I went to theatre school. When they said can you speak with a deep voice? I said sure."

Why did she still sing her old songs?

"I have to sing them otherwise they won't go home," she said with the Dietrich huskiness of her films coming through.

Why did she still tour?

"To be a performer you have got to be disciplined, you have got to know that you are not very important. Young people tell you what they think and if they do something wrong it is not their fault - it is because they had an unhappy childhood, they say. It was not like that for us.
"My sister died the day I opened in Birmingham on my last tour. No one knew and I could not say 'I can't perform today.'

"We stand out there with a high fever and perform. We have been taught not to allow little personal things to get in the way."

14 June 2011

Lola Cubed

Imitations and spoofs of Marlene Dietrich cropped up soon after her Hollywood arrival. From a 1932 Hollywood on Parade short, here are the Brox Sisters singing "Falling In Love Again":

Did Dietrich herself ever appear in any Hollywood on Parade shorts? They were produced by Paramount but seem to only feature supporting actors and Dlisters (e.g. Helen Kane and Anna May Wong).

12 June 2011

10 June 2011

On Dietrich's Generosity

In a 1987 interview with Joan Rivers on The Tonight Show, Bette Davis praised Marlene Dietrich's generosity, recalling that Dietrich came from the set of The Garden of Allah to the Hollywood Canteen, "covered in gold paint" and making the men go mad. In fact, Davis was referring to Kismet, but set aside that inaccuracy to hear one legend praise another:

As for Joan Rivers, I Googled her and Dietrich's names together on a whim and found an amusing anecdote by a Preston Neal Jones (the same Preston Neal Jones who wrote a book on The Night of the Hunter?) about Dietrich ignoring Joan on an airplane.

09 June 2011

Marlene Dietrich News Bytes

  • As missladiva already wrote, one of Marlene Dietrich's Destry Rides Again costumes is up for auction. See it here. According to that page "Public previews [are] at the Paley Center for Media, 465 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 [...] June 4-5, 8-12 and 15-17 [...] 12pm to 5pm," which I gather means you can take a gander at it for free if you can't afford the the $8,000 minimum bid. To those of you who admire Dietrich's collaborators, you may also enjoy gazing at the Travis Banton creations made for Rudolph Valentino, Carole Lombard, and Claudette Colbert (no Banton-Dietrich confections at this time, though).
  • Speaking of fashion, the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museoa in Getaria, Spain, which was inaugurated on June 7, will open to the public on June 10. Visit the museum's website in the language of your choice (English | español | Euskara | français) and see its YouTube channel. According to some articles, a Dietrich gown will be on display. If so, perhaps Marlene Dietrich Collection Berlin (MDCB) loaned it out? Maybe it's in one of the YouTube videos? I didn't see anything Dietrich-related when I searched the museum's site.
  • EDIT: See where Marlene Dietrich apparently lived when she arrived to [now West] Hollywood here.
  • Comments? Questions? More news?

08 June 2011

Maria Riva's Blind Items Pt. 3

In Marlene Dietrich, Maria Riva wrote of a character nicknamed the "Pirate" (known as "Jo"/"Joe" by others), who courted her mother during the summer of 1939. According to Riva, Dietrich mistook the Pirate for a man when she first laid eyes on the butch beauty sailing her schooner along the French Riviera. In fact, the Pirate was a woman named Marion Barbara "Betty" Carstairs, dubbed "The Queen of Whale Cay," a cheeky reference to a Bahamian isle Carstairs owned and developed. Not only was Carstairs a woman of many monikers; she was also a woman of many hats. As a Standard Oil heiress, speedboat racer, World War I ambulance driver, and former owner of a chauffeur (or should I say chauffeuse?) company, Carstairs was perhaps the first diesel--well, I digress! Although Carstairs likely wasn't what Billy Ocean had in mind when he sang "Caribbean Queen," I would rather see more socialites like her and less like Paris Hilton.

Like Dietrich, Carstairs had a special German doll in her life, only hers was a Steiff--not a Lenci. Called Lord Tod Wadley, he was a foot-tall leather figure who wore Savile Row and hammed it up for the camera like his "friend" Carstairs, to whom he brought good luck during her boat races. Terry Castle wrote an extensive article about Carstairs and Wadley, which you can read here. Speaking of dolls, there is a building on Great Whale Cay called the Dollhouse and also Marlene Pavilion, which Carstairs apparently built for Dietrich and is now in ruins (see it here). Did Dietrich ever visit this island? Riva's book dispelled legends that she did. I wonder what this bio on Carstairs says of Dietrich. Have any of you read it?

As one of Riva's more thinly veiled blind items, the Pirate--who dared to call Dietrich "Babe"--was easy to unmask. In fact, Steven Bach mentioned Carstairs several times in Marlene Dietrich: Life and Legend. Steven Bach also identified a "former secretary" of Carstairs who joined Dietrich's entourage, a certain Violla Rubber--a fitting name for a woman who ostensibly was the notorious nanny nicknamed the "Rhinoceros" by Riva (incidentally, Riva had earlier noted this animal's resemblance to Carstairs). According to Riva, Dietrich employed the Pirate's Rhino and installed her in a Beverly Hills Hotel apartment alone with Riva, corresponding to Bach's description of Riva's living arrangements with Rubber. For those who have read Riva's book, you know that the Rhino--"a visually obvious lesbian"--violated the teenaged Riva, who couldn't turn to her mother for consolation because Dietrich was apparently recovering from an abortion (Jimmy Stewart's child, which Bach claimed was Riva's revelation). After Riva's first engagement, the Rhino bolted, leaving Rudi Sieber to discover that she had forged Dietrich's checks.

What shocks me is that if the Rhino was indeed Violla (sometimes spelled "Viola," which would make for an awful pun in Spanish) Rubber, she may have been the same Miss Rubber who worked as Bette Davis' manager in the 1960s, likened to a "gym mistress" by Lionel Larner in Ed Sikov's book, Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis. Allegedly, Davis demanded that Miss Rubber try on a bathing suit she had purchased for Davis' daughter B.D. The Rhino may have also been the same Violla Rubber who gave Diana Barrymore a break and knew her intimately, inheriting $10,000 from Barrymore after her demise. Furthermore, the Rhino may have been the Broadway producer Viola (with one "l") Rubber, who was nominated for two Tony Awards in 1962 for the Tennessee Williams play, "The Night of the Iguana."

Thoughts? Comments? By the way, I will save the Cavalier blind item for the next post in this "series" because this entry thoroughly distracted me.

To read my guesses about Maria Riva's other blind items, click here!

06 June 2011

Marlene Dietrich Newsletters: How To Enhance Your Search

The Marlene Dietrich (MD) Newsletters (available here and here) published by the Marlene Dietrich Collection Berlin contain a wealth of information, and I recommend that all fact-finders consult them first when conducting an online search. In fact, I've noticed that Google has been indexing them, but not in a systematic way that will help you sift through their contents more efficiently. If you want to conduct an organized search of newsletter contents, follow the tips below.

  • Go to
  • Type any Dietrich-related term that appeals to you, followed by site:
  • Press the "Search" button--it's that easy! I will show a screen capture example, with the search term "sternberg" below.

For (whose contents do not differ from, as far as I can tell, but it appears that Google hasn't indexed this site as extensively)
  • Go to
  • Type any Dietrich-related term that appeals to you, followed by site:
  • Press the "Search" button--it's that easy! I will show a screen capture example, with the search term "sternberg" below.

As you will see, there are 17 "sternberg" results from and 36 from, which is Google's fault. Bear in mind, however, that if you conduct this search with and cannot open the PDF file in the search results, you can at least take note of the newsletter's issue number and see whether you can retrieve it from the Newsletterarchive at

Unfortunately, I don't know how to sort Google's search results by date, but you can limit the date range by clicking "More search tools" in the lefthand column

Then, by clicking "Custom range..."

Finally, by picking any date range you want (I chose "1/1/2003" to "12/31/2004" as an example) and pressing "Search"

As you will see, restricting the dates will render 1 result from

Be aware that search engines can make mistakes, but if you do not want to wrack your brain trying to remember--for example--in which MD newsletter you saw Nicholas von Sternberg's letter about his father and Cesar Romero, try adapting these tips to your search. As always, if you have questions, comments, or other tips, please add them in the comments section.