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.