07 September 2012

Earl Wilson's Vintage Gossip Bites: The Broadway Edition

At The Last Goddess, we devour good gossip; below are some tasty morsels from New York-based Earl Wilson's syndicated  column, written at the time of Marlene's two Broadway triumphs in 1967 and 1968:

  • MONTREAL -- Maurice Chevalier, "a very happy old man" in his own words, delivered himself of the provocative opinion here the other day that "Marlene Dietrich had the guts that Greta Garbo never had" in continuing her career and that Garbo "must not be very gay now not working." ... "I don't approve of Garbo not working," Chevalier said. "she got so scared because something she did went wrong, and she didn't dare to come back, and she has refused everything. If she had kept working she would still be the great Garbo, whereas now Dietrich is greater than Garbo. She would have had to take older parts so she would be the great old lady of the screen. It is better to be a great old lady than just a souvenir." Chevalier was sure that Marlene -- "who has a lot of guts and it's surprising to find guts in one so feminine" -- will be a big hit in her one-woman singing, dancing show which, he pointed out, "is not her profession, but a new one for her". (5 August 1967)

    • Marlene Dietrich insists upon a special stage door watchman for her one woman show, to protect a gown allegedly costing $ 50,000. Advance word is that she's so good and lovely, that "she performs for an hour and 20 minutes, then takes bows for 40 minutes". (9 October 1967)

    • Marlene Dietrich was escorted to El Morocco the other morning by Lord Snowdon, Princess Margaret's husband who is here on business, and Alexander Lieberman of Vogue, and Mrs Lieberman. For supper (or breakfast) they had scrambled eggs with red wine. Several beautiful woman such as Mrs Pat Uchitel were there, and I asked what they noticed. They replied, "Marlene's figure." ... "Isn't she TOO thin?" asked somebody near me ... "A woman," they shrieked, is NEVER too thin!" (Is that right?) (24 October 1967)

    • Marlene Dietrich rejected a 50Gs-a-week offer from Miami Beach Deauville, "but I'd like to vacation there". (18 November 1967)

    • Marlene Dietrich told the Billy Reeds she'll go into white tie and tails again when she does Die Fledermaus in Vienna next summer. (19 November 1967)

    • Marlene Dietrich shelved a return to NY -- but may play Osaka, Japan, Fair in the mid-1970s. (25 January 1968)

    •  The Marlene Dietrich triumphal return had some light moments. The "white mink" floor-length coat -- or was it ermine? -- turned out to be swans' down (from the belly of a swan), and it was gorgeous, and I may start breeding swans ... Producer Alexander H. Cohen was funny when I mentioned to him that one bouquet-thrower, who also threw love beads, which Marlene promptly put on, was working both aisles, flinging flowers from one side to the other, and was later seen backstage. "Those flowers cost me a lot of money," joked Producer Cohen, "and Marlene won't let me use them twice." Marlene wore a Jean Louis silk net gown with bugle beads and crystals -- and now jewelry -- and as she took her short little hobble-skirted steps across the stage, bowed the deepest, prettiest bow in history, and waived from the parted red curtains, we thought she is the greatest showman of our time. (10 October 1968)


    1. I LOVE your blog!

      The ONLY reason I point out a typo ...

      "and Marlene won't let me use the[m] twice."

      ... is because it mucks with a punchline.

      No offense intended.

      Thanks for posting such great stuff about Marlene.

    2. Decrepit Diva,

      No offence taken, and thanks for pointing out the typo (fixed)! Glad you like the blog!

    3. Misladiva, I enjoyed the gossip, love the photos and video (saw it already on your channel). I'm puzzeled how you manage to get all this outstanding material. Your channel is a gem and I'm addicted to it!

      I don't often think of Marlene as sweet, but somehow in this video I think she is sweet and adorable! Love the white dress, looks stunning! Always a pleasure to see how she can express so much emotion with so little.

    4. Hey Joseph!
      I've been incommunicado lately but I had to come see what Dietrich has been up to. That feisty gal!
      I had a good laugh out of the first pic of her in her helmet and with that trout pout. (She certainly perfected it)

      Loved reading some of Chevalier's thoughts. He never minced words when discussing his experiences with his colleagues.

      I thought of you recently when I finally got the large book, catalog on Dietrich's auction items, her personal affects. Gorgeous stuff and I enjoyed seeing all of her personal correspondence that she held on to. I think I asked you previously if you have the book. It's quite lovely.

      Hopefully one day I'll actually get to sit down and do a bio on Marlene.

      1. Hi, Page! Is this the Sotheby's catalog called Personal Property from the Estate of Marlene Dietrich? I don't have that and would be interested in getting it myself--especially if it includes a price list.

        Frankly, I've been "gone fishing" until recently and am thankful that great people like missladiva have tended to this blog. I hope you can write a Marlene bio, and that catalog will serve as a unique source of information that'll give you quite an edge over the other bios I've seen online.

    5. Thank you for the wonderful pictures and the fabulous video !

      Do you know :

      1. Thank you, Missladiva !

        I founded pictures on the French blog "Soyons-suave" (Let's be sweet)

        Hair for Kismet :

        New for me :

        Légion d'honneur :

        Best regards.

    6. Joseph,
      You are going to be so mad at me but I bought the book on Amazon and it was only like $3.50. A steal! The shipping was more than the book and it's in mint condition. Hopefully you'll be able to find it there. Actually the thick coffee table book I got is called Marlene, Photographs and Memories. I also just got her thick bio "Life and Legend by Steven Bach. I had been trying to find one with credible info, well researched and it was the one that sounded good. Have you read it? It's such a long bio that it might take me awhile to get through it.

      I was gone for a good month because my laptop kept shutting down while blogging but I recently got a new one so I'm back in business.


      1. Oh, both books are incredibly helpful, and I consult them all the time myself when I write blog entries. About Marlene Dietrich: Photographs and Memories, it's in fact a portion of the mind-blowing Marlene Dietrich Collection Berlin (MDCB). Steven Bach's bio has lots of facts and details, but there are some inaccuracies, which you can find in some MDCB newsletters by Googling (without the quotes) "steven" or "bach". Also, it wouldn't hurt to try "steven" or "bach" because I don't know whether the newsletters are fully indexed on both sites.

        I'm glad you got a new laptop--I may have to do the same myself because I have a mischievous sprite in mine that redirects me to different sites when I click on Google search results!

    7. It just occurred to me that Tiger Woods' alleged former mistress, Rachel Uchitel, is the granddaughter of former El Morocco owner, Maurice Uchitel, Pat's (ex-)husband. 'Tis a pedigree that rivals Kate Middleton's, no?

      1. And I should add that "uchitel" means "teacher" in Bulgarian. I assume that it means the same in other Slavic languages.;)