11 August 2013

Maria Riva's Blind Items Pt. 7

¿Quién es esa niña?
Due to my lack of motivation, Maria Riva's blind items have been on the blog's back burner, but some kind words from superliz6 at Tumblr have encouraged me to turn the heat up on them because many mysterious identities remain in Riva's oeuvre about her mother, Marlene Dietrich, including this one that superliz6 has brought to my attention.

During Christmas of 1963, a children's book writer barged in on Massy and the Rivas' festivities to carnally console Dietrich, still in mourning after the recent assassination of John F. Kennedy. By 1964, Marlene was lamenting the plane crash death of this "lady author," who was none other than Nancy Spain. Despite Riva's characterization, Spain wrote much more than juvenile literature, including perhaps this account.

Finding reference to Spain in other Dietrich bios has been quite a chore. In fact, I had to dust off Leslie Frewin's reworked 1967 book, Dietrich: The Story of a Star, to find mention of Spain. According to Frewin, Spain hurled threats at him to keep him from writing his Dietrich bio. Frewin incorrectly locates Dietrich's first meeting with Spain at the Theatre de l'Etoile in 1959, where they realized they shared fashion tastes. Frewin also describes an extensive interview that Spain conducted with Dietrich the following day. In addition to Marlene's revelation that she medicated roses with aspirin, the two "talked of clothes and beauty and men." Obviously, the most unfathomable part of that sentence is that men were a topic of their conversation. Please share this interview if you have it because David Bret wrote that it was "thought to have been [Dietrich's] most explicit ever." Bret may be the only other Anglophone Dietrich biographer to recognize Spain, quoting Marlene as saying that Nancy introduced her to Gilbert Becaud, the composer of "Marie, Marie." Those of you more knowledgeable of Nancy Spain will certainly flesh out the details of this blind item, as I have only just ordered Nancy's cookbook and memoir.

10 August 2013

10 Great Women, As Chosen by Marlene Dietrich

In 1942, as publicity for The Lady is Willing, Marlene shared her selection of the ten greatest women of the time with Hollywood magazine's Jack Dallas. Her choices:


Dorothy Thompson, the distinguished journalist, because she has finally proved that a woman’s opinions concerning the troubled world in which we live can be as searching, profound and constructive as those of male minds; because her soundness has come to be generally recognized and her influence universally felt; and because she has managed to combine a successful career with successful motherhood.


Helen Keller, because, despite the terrifying handicap of being born without sight, speech, or hearing, she has become an international symbol of the triumph of the human will against all-out adversity; because she has turned her handicaps into assets; and because, above all, she is living a rich and useful life.


Queen Elizabeth of England [later Queen Mother], because she is attractive  without intent, charming without effort, impressive without guile, and ladylike without apology, she is the most ultra-feminine woman in the world; and because she has always managed to be effacing enough to highlight the personality of her husband, the King.


Amelia Earhart, that slim, spare figure of a woman, because she set her compass on Life and never changed her course; because she lived for a purpose; and because she died heroically, a falling star plunging into an uncharted ocean and, surely, saluting with a smile and a wave of the hand the sun or the moon as her plane plummeted her to an unknown destiny.


Alice Marble, the tennis champion, because she is the perfect embodiment of athletic femininity, healthy without being horsey; and because, in her capacity of National Director of Physical Training for Women she is using her gifts for the general good.


Mme. Chiang Kai-shek, because she is one of the world’s most brilliant women; because she is aiding her great husband, the Generalissimo, in preserving China in the face of unending peril; and because she is bringing a new freedom to the women of China.


Clare Boothe, because she undeniably is one of the most fascinating conversationalists; and because she knows women and has held up a mirror so we could see ourselves. (Or did you miss The Women?)


Eve Curie, because she is of the bandbox type; because she can travel light and appear to be convoyed by a trailer filled with Schiaparellis; because she does not follow fashion but leads it — gently.


Greta Garbo, because where there’s Garbo there’s tension; and because she has proved that furbelows are foolish and mystery is marvelous.


Nellie Manley, my hair-dresser for eight years, not only because she does her job well but also because she has no apologies for its lack of lustre; because she is neither amused by glamour, deceived by glitter and tinsel, or ravaged by ambition; because she is a true philosopher and can take life as it comes, and be cause, totally free from complexes and frustrations, she is at peace with herself and wouldn't change places with Marlene Dietrich for the Taj Mahal.