27 April 2011

Marlene Dietrich Biography Ghostwriters?

I have never read this morsel before! Simon & Schuster didn't publish Maria Riva's book because it was so "over-the-top," which is why Knopf picked it up? Also, Maria had ghostwriters?

In a strange twist, I also came across an interview that the Brothers Judd conducted with Burt Boyar, whom they stated had co-authored Sammy Davis Jr.'s autobiography, Yes I Can, with wife Jane Boyar (R.I.P.). During the Brothers Judd interview, Boyar revealed that he had worked with Maria Riva on her Marlene Dietrich biography. Coincidentally, an untitled Marlene Dietrich biography was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office under Boyar Investment, Ltd. in 1980 (see record below). That's not all. The untitled biography was also registered under Simon & Schuster, the publisher for whom Maria Riva was writing her biography, according to the aforementioned May 25 1992 New York Magazine gossip. To complicate this mystery even further, let me observe that Simon & Schuster published the recent Dietrich biography by Charlotte Chandler.

This string of information leads me to ask a string of questions:

Did Maria Riva really work with ghostwriters while she was writing her famous Dietrich bio? If so, were the Boyars her ghostwriters? Did Maria Riva leave Simon & Schuster because she did not want to use the Boyars' biographical material? Did Maria Riva use any of the Boyars' biographical material after she joined Alfred A. Knopf? Did Charlotte Chandler use any of the Boyars' material for her Simon & Schuster biography? If either Riva or Chandler accessed the Boyars' work, to what extent did they use it? I know none of these answers, but I do know that Maria Riva, Charlotte Chandler, and Burt Boyar could offer insight on the matter.

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