18 May 2011

Maria Riva's Blind Items Pt. 1

In her Marlene Dietrich biography, Maria Riva employed a literary device that strongly paralleled a blind item. Some readers may have preferred that Riva identify the conspicuously unnamed people in her anecdotes. I find the evasiveness engaging, especially because many of these people may have still been alive when the bio was first published.

So who were these mystery folks?

During 1937, Riva recovered from an illness and returned to the Swiss boarding school Brillantmont, where a “thin, dark-haired girl, with strange light-gray eyes” became her roommate. This girl audaciously asked in English whether Riva had her mother's gams. Riva remembered this moment as the first of many times that people would raise this question. Was "Gray-Eyed" the stunning Gene Tierney, who also attended Brillantmont in the '30s?

Gene Tierney

During the 1947 filming of Golden Earrings, Riva recalled that Dietrich wooed a well-built, up-and-coming movie star who had made a splash on the Paramount lot after debuting in a gangster film. Dietrich had Riva change sex-soiled Irish linens and charge a record player to Mitchell Leisen's account for this married gold digger. Was the boy toy Burt Lancaster, who got top billing in two 1947 flicks--Universal's Brute Force and Paramount's Desery Fury?

Burt Lancaster, March 1938

Your guesses?

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


  1. I would like yo know who the "cavalier"is.Funny I just re read the book and was wondering about a few of these mystery people,I think you could be right.I just dug out a cutting from the London Times datedJan 5,1993.Marias book identifies someone as PD who Marlene said was a "sentimental old Jew I had in Edinburgh" Turns out he was Peter Diamand,who became artistic director of the Edinburgh Festival after Lord Harewood.Mr Diamand described her as"She was the most extraordinarily beautiful woman.She was in her early sixties.She looked glorious"So that is one thing solved.Lets have more.Paul

  2. Nice work, Paul! I am out of town but will dig up more blind items during the upcoming week. I will also add yours.


  4. The name of the girl that maria talks about was Lady levita daughter of a very wealthy family; her daughter was called Stephanie Levita cooper; and she was getting over her unrequited love of women, when maria was there, she was talked about by the other girls; Gene Tierney biography Michelle Vogel.
    The butch woman who tried to seduce Dietrich was Mercedes de Acosta, who wrote a book about it in the 1960s; some of it was true Dietrich some false Natcha Rambova; Madam Valentino book also Rudolph Valentino website.

  5. Lady Levita grandson is the British prime-minster David Cameron

  6. Read the book called That furious lesbian the story of Mercedes De Acosta by Robert A Schanke pub 2004
    Concerning Dietrich and De Acosta

  7. She Acosta was the one who tried to make love to Maria read her wikipedia page; it gives you some idea of what she was like, not pleasant. Acosta wiki page tells you why Maria was upset; this woman was not a nice person, even her friends were not impressed by her ways; interested only in what she could get out of people.

  8. Mercedes De Acosta lost her eye; she had taken to wearing a eye patch over one eye, which made her look like a pirate, such as those in children novels; like the character Long John Silver; so she was the one who attacked Maria.

  9. The actor that had a affair with her was not Burt but Jean Gabin he had a torrid affair with Dietrich which lasted into 1948; RKO asked him to star in a film, he demanded Dietrich star with him; they refused and fired him. See wiki site for Gabin.