27 December 2014

Happy Birthday: Stars and Cake!

Dietrich was born 113 years ago, on this day in 1901.  

A Capricorn, she was one of the first stars to use the services of astrologer Carroll Righter, who had come to Hollywood in 1938. ("The stars impel, they don't compel. What you make of your life depends on you," he said).

"Anyone with troubles can unload them safely onto Capricorn's shoulders," Marlene said of her own zodiac sign, ruled by Saturn  "the celestial taskmaster. He won't let you get away with anything."

Righter either looked at his charts of the screenplay of The Lady Is Willing in 1941 and advised Marlene not to go to the studio one day. She disregarded his advice: while filming a scene with 'Baby X' in her arms, she tripped over a toy on the set and broke her ankle as she shielded the baby. Columbia's publicity men had a field day supplying photos of Marlene recuperating to the press. (She completed filming of the movie with her ankle in a cast, deftly hid out of view).

"Don't mess around with old Carroll — 'cause he must know something." Marlene concluded.

As late as 1978, according the New York Daily News, Marlene still rarely made "a move without consulting the zodiac ... with Righter". (The paper was reporting about a lunch date between Maria Riva and the astrologer. Riva had just become a "very happy" grandmother; great-grandmother was in Paris working on her autobiography).


Today being Marlene's birthday, here's a "birthday" cake: her recipe for Dutch Apple Cake, shared with readers of New Movie magazine in 1932. 

1 cake yeast
¼ cup lukewarm milk
¾ cup scalding hot milk
¼ cup sugar
2 ½ cups flour
¼ cup shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk, beaten

Soak the yeast in lukewarm milk. Add to scalded milk. Add half the sugar and flour. Let rise until doubled in bulk. Then eat in the rest of the sugar, flour and other ingredients. Spread thinly in greased baking pan. Let rise in warm place until doubled again. Press thinly sliced apples into dough in even rows. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon cinnamon mixed with a half cup brown sugar and dot with currants. Bake in hot oven.

(Let us know what it tastes like!)

Happy Birthday Marlene!

18 December 2014

A Suite of Ivory Suits

Spoliansky in Berlin.
Bonhams sold an ivory cloqué Balenciaga evening suit from Marlene's wardrobe earlier this month (it fetched £3 250, premium included). According to the auctioneer's description, Marlene had gifted it to composer Mischa Spoliansky's daughter, whose family offered it for sale.

Spoliansky was one of the people who could have claimed to have "discovered" Marlene: he auditioned and cast her in two of his revues in Berlin. 

She made her first recordings as a cast member of 1928's  Es liegt in der Luft; the following year, Josef von Sternberg spotted her on-stage in Zwei Krawatten, and arranged her screen test for The Blue Angel. While Marlene went on to Hollywood stardom, Spoliansky emigrated to London in 1933, where he became a well-respected film composer. 

For decades, the pair would catch up when Marlene was in London. (Spoliansky later wrote one of Marlene's songs in Stage Fright and she included his lilting Auf Der Mundharmonika in her 1964 album, Die Neue Marlene). 

Here's the evening suit sold by Bonhams, and a photo of Marlene wearing a similar outfit  in 1962:

Spot the differences.
Dietrich wore similar ensembles to the one auctioned: in 1962, when she was received the Edison Award in the Netherlands; and in 1963, when she performed in London at The Royal Variety Performance. Both of those suits had differing detailing to one another, and the suit sold is again slightly different to both of those.

Dietrich in The Netherlands, 1962 (left); and Marlene Meets The Beatles at The Royal Variety Performance, 1963 (right).
[Photos: Bonhams & Crees Collection]

04 December 2014

Pretty Souvenirs: A 2014 Marlene Dietrich Auction Overview

Many a Dietrich admirer (and lovers of fine jewellery) would love to be the owner of this tri-colour gold bracelet, with a lapis lazuli clasp, which is being offered by Sotheby's New York as part of their Magnificent Jewels sale next week. Made by Cartier, it was given to Marlene by Erich Maria Remarque. She was photographed wearing it by Harper's Bazaar's Louise Dahl-Wolfe. Sotheby's estimates the 14 karat bracelet will fetch between $ 20 000 - $ 30 000. 

Perhaps you'd prefer to strut your stuff à la Dietrich? That can be arranged!

This pair of custom-made Delman shoes, used by Marlene in her stage shows, will be sold this week by Julien's. Online bidding is already under way (the top bid is currently at $ 700: it should easily reach their estimate of $ 800 - $ 1 200).

Salerooms have been earning nice commissions offering an interesting mix of other Dietrich items for sale this year. Some other highlights:

In January,  Sotheby's also sold this Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot sketch of a landscape with cows, another gift from Remarque.  Previously, the sketch had been offered to the public in November 1997, when the contents of Marlene's New York apartment was sold by her heirs. This time around, it brought  $ 11 250 (buyer's premium included) — well in excess of the the estimate of $ 6 000 - $ 8 000.

The most high-profile Dietrich auction of 2014 was the “Marlene Dietrich Inheritance Sale” which garnered worldwide press coverage. The internet-only sale, held in March by UK-based newcomer Auction My Stuff, featured everyday items gifted by Marlene to of some of her grandchildren (many were from John-David Riva's collection).

24 November 2014

Ol' Blue Eyes's Little Black Book

Many Sinatra collectors will no doubt be eager to own his 1960s address book, when it comes under the hammer at Heritage Auctions in December (pre-auction internet bidding on the item is already underway: the current top bid is $1,300).

The address book, compiled by his long-time secretary, is a (circa) 1964 who's who, from Harold Arlen to Richard Zanuck and some people called Kennedy

Marlene's in there, too, seemingly with an outdated address (she'd surely moved further up, to 993 Park Avenue, by then: her alphanumeric phone number is correct, though!). Not sure what she would have made of her alphabetical billing below soon-to-be Mrs Bacharach, Angie Dickinson:

Let's ring Marlene ... she might just answer!

18 November 2014

Dietrich in London: 50th Anniversary

Half a century ago, this week, Marlene Dietrich arrived in London to prepare for a concert season in that city. She had previously performed there, at the Café de Paris in the fifties, but that was in cabaret. This would be London's first opportunity to experience her expanded repertoire, in a theatrical event finessed by musical director, Burt Bacharach, and herself.

Dietrich at Heathrow airport, November 1964.

01 November 2014

Dietrich Interviewed: Advice from "An Old German Shoe"

Marlene had recently completed her annual Las Vegas stint and was in the midst of her South American concert tour when this interview, by Lloyd Shearer, was published in an August 1959 edition of Parade:

BOOKERS WHO SCHEDULE the stage appearances of famous show business personalities loosely classify these celebrities in two groups  — talent and freak attractions. 

Marlene Dietrich, who each year is booked into the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas, the Copacabana in Rio and several other night spots throughout the world at $25,000 a week, is classified as a freak attraction. 

The reason? People will pay to see her regardless of her act — an act in which she sings badly because her tremulous voice lacks timbre and range, and in which she dances inadequately because her dancing is limited to a series of offbeat kicks and cakewalks. And yet Marlene is always a sellout.  Wherever she plays she draws enthusiastic crowds. She stimulates tumultuous ovations. She arouses such awe and envy-inspired audience comment as, “How does she do it at her age?” or “Doesn't she ever grow old?” or “Look at the figure on that woman.” 

At 55, onstage, sheathed in a shimmering side-slit creation designed by Jean Louis, languorously slinking up to a microphone, incredibly immune to the ravages of age, Grandma Dietrich generates more glamor and sex appeal than any other actress you can think of, even those half her age. 

How does she do it? The honest answer is money, technique and style. 

“Let's not fool anyone,” Dietrich candidly declares. “It takes money to be glamorous nowadays. Glamor is what I sell in my act, and it costs plenty. 

Feathers from Argentina

14 October 2014


A fantasy coupling, and an April fool's joke, from 1932.

New York, 1935.

Garbo and Dietrich. They were often compared to one another, but did they they ever meet? 

Marlene always denied it, which did nothing to stop speculation. Garbo's reported comment on the subject?: "Who is Marlene Dietrich?" 

One thing is certain — they may have had the opportunity to meet through shared friends and acquaintances, but they couldn't have met as often as those who knew both (and who supposedly witnessed such meetings) said they did! 

The Garbo site, GarboForever, has a nice summary of many of these legends: you'll have to decide for yourself how reliable they are. One supposed meeting, at a nightclub in 1935, was widely reported. Marlene's denials made the cover of the New York Post in March that year:

01 October 2014

Making Fashion: Two New Exhibitions (With Books!)

Two current exhibitions celebrate the work of those who helped shape Dietrich's image:

Photographer Horst P. Horst photographed Dietrich on several occasions for Vogue. A major career retrospective, focussing on the photographer's work at the fashion magazine, is currently on show at London's V&A (where it will run until 4 January 2015). 

Photographer of Style was was opened by Carmen Dell’Orefice, the one-time Vogue model who worked with the photographer from 1946. Using over 250 photographs from the magazine's archive — alongside items of clothing, Horst's papers, and film clips —  it explores Horst's creative efforts in collaboration with models, designers, artists and and stars like Marlene. 

Visitors to the exhibition will also be able to see all 94 of the covers Horst shot for Vogue, in addition to new exhibition prints of some of his colour work, printed from his original large-format transparencies.

The website about the exhibit includes fascinating information, including brief film footage of Marlene's friend, Alexander Liberman (whose photographs of her were published in 1993's An Intimate Photographic Memoir).  Anna Wintour has penned a forward to Susanna Brown's book, which accompanies the exhibit.

Across the pond, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts explores the combination of jewellery and fashion during Hollywood's golden age. 

Fittingly, one of Marlene's costumes from Desire, in which she played the chicest of jewel thieves, is on show. (The négligée, with its matching fur-trimmed cape — which, going by recent photos, looks like it may have been altered — is on loan from the FIDM Museum, who have several items from Dietrich's wardrobe in their collection.)

Also on show: a Travis Banton evening gown designed by Dietrich's costume collaborator for her one-time co-star, Anna May Wong; and a Schiaparelli dress that adorned the curves of Marlene's Paramount pal, Mae West. Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow and Carole Lombard are among the other stars represented.

The jewellery on view provide an opportunity to see the work of Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin up close. The house, makers of Marlene's fabled suite of emerald jewellery, is represented by various items from the thirties to the fifties: notably, a multi-use platinum, emerald and sapphire necklace once owned by actress June Knight.

Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen will be on show  until 8 March 2015. A book about The Jewels of Trabert & Hoeffer-Mauboussin draws on the museum's collection to chart the collaboration between the firms of Trabert & Hoeffer and Mauboussin during the thirties and forties.

(Updated: 4 October 2014)

29 August 2014

El Morocco Memories

With Clifton Webb, c 1937.
The zebra print on the banquettes was really dark blue, but that pattern (which reproduced so well in newsprint photos) served as background for the rich, the famous and the climbers of a generation and clearly identified their location at Manhattan's El Morocco nightclub.

The club, originally opened as a speakeasy, on 54th Street in in 1931, claimed to have invented not only the velvet rope at the entrance, but Sibera, too (on the wrong side of its tiny dance floor, to which the socially undesirable were banished). Nanette Fabray remembered: “One entered, and there was a hierarchy of where one sat. The first table on the right was the best; the second was reserved for the owner, John Perona. You didn't dare go unless you were perfectly turned out.”

22 August 2014

The Scarlet Letters

Big-budget studio films were heavily promoted, and The Scarlet Empress was no exception. In addition to press coverage and ads, there were publicity stunts – worldwide.

Paramount's pitch to showmen.
In London, a waxwork of Marlene Dietrich was unveiled at Madame Tussaud's in conjunction with the opening of the film. John Armstrong, director of advertising at Paramount Theatres there arranged that the unveiling be broadcast via a transatlantic radio link to the US via NBC. The waxwork was dressed in ostrich feathers from South Africa – gaining press for the movie in far-flung parts of the British Empire. Even department store Selfridges joined in with displays. Across the channel, a special premiere was held at the Theatre Agriculteurs in Paris, with American envoy in France, J I Strauss in attendance. And cinemas from New York to Shanghai lured their patrons with special displays.

09 August 2014

An Interview with Sauli Miettinen

Marlene Dietrich: Nainen ja tähti 
[Marlene Dietrich: A Woman and A Star]
by Sauli Miettinen
Last year, I interviewed Sauli Miettinen, the author of the Finnish language Marlene Dietrich biography, Marlene Dietrich: Nainen ja tähti [Marlene Dietrich: A Woman and A Star], which will hopefully be translated into German and English. The questions that I posed to him had developed out of my interest in factors such as one's geographical location, linguistic abilities, age, as well as technological and media access that can affect one's ability to receive and seek information about a celebrity such as Marlene Dietrich. I also wanted to discover how Miettinen researched Dietrich's life and career and what his thoughts were on other Dietrich biographies--and on biographies in general. Miettinen answered these questions and more, and I now eagerly await the day when I can read his book in English translation. As you read this interview, please think of any questions that you may have. Hopefully, Miettinen will be able to respond in the comments section and turn this interview into an ongoing conversation about biographies and biographical research in relation to Dietrich and in general.

03 August 2014

Travis Banton's Inspiration

It all happened in Texas when Travis was a little boy, seven years old ...

His mother and father were going to a great ball given in honour of visiting celebrities. There had been talk of this occasion for weeks and weeks. All the women of the family had huddled in his mother's bedroom the day her gown came home from the shop in a big white box and mists of tissue paper.

Although it was almost nine o'clock the lights in the nursery were left on the night of the ball. He was waiting for his mother to kiss him good night. She was to stop in just before she left so he might see her in her gown.

His mother was so very beautiful. Her gown of soft blue chiffon might have been fashioned from a piece of Spring sky. It caught at her slim waist with crushed velvet. and on both of her shoulders were great bunches of forget-me-nots ...

"That gown of my mother's gave me my dream or whatever you want to call it of doing this sort of thing ... So in memory of that gown I designed one of the gowns Marlene Dietrich wears in Song of Songs the same way. Only Marlene's gown is violet, with violets on the shoulders."

 Modern Screen magazine, 1933

Designer Travis Banton with Marlene in 1937.

29 July 2014

Seeing Double in Kismet

Some of the gold paint used in Kismet is still doing the rounds at the museum in Berlin housing Dietrich's collection, seventy years after the film was made. It's fitting, as her gilt legs – in that Jack Cole-choreographed dance – and the loopy wigs she wore in it, are what the movie is remembered for.

Marlene with designer Irene.
At that point in her career, an Arabian detour seemed fated for Marlene. She'd already done Scheherazade on radio (playing the title role and the slave girl and the monarch), and producer Edward Small announced that he was preparing an Egyptian-set film romance, Bella Donna, for her, to be released by United Artists.

The latter didn't materialise, but Kismet did – at MGM, where stars were “flattered and spoiled”. She thought her role (as Jamilla, in Baghdad by way of Macedonia) was “impossible”, but her star salary would cover expenses back home during her upcoming overseas USO tours. Marlene “couldn't be happier,” Screenland gushed about the star's new two picture deal at Metro, before wondering aloud if it was “true that she wasn't invited to the wedding when her daughter married recently. 'Tis rumored.”

While MGM was putting the final pre-production touches on its piece of exotica, Marlene divided her time between duties as Orson Welles' assistant in his Mercury Wonder Show on Cahuenga Boulevard – where she had replaced Rita Hayworth – and doing shifts at the nearby Hollywood Canteen.

Mind reader Orson Welles' assistants, Rita Hayworth (soon-to-be Mrs Welles) and Marlene Dietrich using the power of suggestion.

Principal photography on the film started in late October 1943. Costume designer Irene devised golden chainmail harem pants for Marlene to wear during her big dance number. These would “jingle” and “glitter” as Marlene lolled around on black lacquer floors (with the actual dancing provided by an uncredited contract dancer).

Marlene and her dance double.

On the first day of shooting of the number, Stravinsky boomed on loudspeakers on the sound stage and Marlene went into her dance. She later remembered: “Suddenly all one heard was crack, crack, crack, the sound of the chainlets breaking, one after the other, then two, six at a time, until I stood there without pants . . . General panic.”

Marlene, aware of schedules and budgets, went into practical mode. “'Gold,' I thought, 'how is a golden effect achieved on the screen?' It occurred to me to paint my legs with gold paint.”

This was done and – although the paint starved her legs from oxygen, causing hypothermia – she thought it looked “simply fabulous” on-screen.

They looked “fabulous” on Broadway too, where they dominated the huge billboard of the Astor Theatre. Kismet opened there on 22 August 1944 (replacing Bathing Beauty) and set a house record when it grossed $310 000 in its 11 week run in New York. Film Daily in its review thought Marlene was “stunning” and “definitely something for the boys.” 

Betty Grable also has Kismet on her mind.

Abbott and Costello's Lost in a Harem recycled sets and costumes  from Kismet. 

18 June 2014

Dietrich's Unfinished Film: "I Loved a Soldier" (1936)

Actresses Come! Actresses Go! Nothing Ever Happens!” may be an apt tagline for Marlene Dietrich's unfinished 1936 film, I Loved a Soldier. The production, a story about a servant girl who falls in love with a soldier at the grand Hotel Imperial, had  leading ladies checking in and out at a dizzying rate.

Paramount announced in September 1935 that they had secured the services of Walter Wanger's import, Charles Boyer, to co-star with Dietrich in Invitation to Happiness (a remake of the Pola Negri silent film,  Hotel Imperial). Principal photography would commence after Dietrich had completed Desire, which was then just about to go into production.

At work on "I Loved a Soldier".
Filming started in early January 1936, on what wags would soon be calling Paramount's “jinx” picture. Early on there was an accident with a gun, injuring one of the crew members. The bullet barely missed Boyer, singeing his toupée, which must have unnerved the French star.

What unnerved Dietrich was the screenplay (there wasn't a completed draft). Writers, headed by John van Druten and supervised by Ernst Lubitsch, didn't make much progress on that front, but the front office kept themselves busy by re-titling. On the same day Invitation to Happiness became I Loved A SoldierMae West's latest belle, Lou, changed her name to Klondike Annie. The casting office, meanwhile, had drafted Paul Lukas for a “major role” and recalled Marlene's Scarlet Empress cohort, Sam Jaffe from New York, as filming continued in a stop-start fashion on the lot.

Director Henry Hathaway would in later years jokingly tell how he had envisioned that Marlene's character – “a slob” – would gradually become more beautiful as her romance with Boyer blossoms:

“You're not supposed to be be beautiful until next Thursday,” Hathaway supposedly warned Dietrich, who pleaded, “can't it at least be Wednesday?”

As battles continued on several fronts, Dietrich wished she “could be like the Americans and get really mad” when she was angry. “The repression of feeling” – a result of her European upbringing, she said, was “very bad for the nerves.” Things came to a head in February when Paramount executives, looking at the shambles around them (not all of it only connected to this film: the company was in serious financial difficulty) and tallying up the almost one million dollars already spent on the Dietrich vehicle, fired Lubitsch.

“When people refuse me something or annoy me, I do not rant, rave and make a scene. I freeze,” Dietrich confided:  “I walk out of the production or the room,” which she did, quitting Paramount early in March.

Stock shots like these are likely all that nowadays
survive of the Dietrich-Boyer vehicle, "I Loved a Soldier".
(Marlene wouldn't be unemployed for long: she had already agreed to do A Knight Without Armour for Alexander Korda in London later that year.)

About three chummy days after her walkout, Paramount and Marlene announced they were again “amicable and friendly”.  Paramount agreed to recast I Loved a Soldier without Dietrich, who would make another film for them on her return from London.

Dietrich (left) and her replacement, Margaret Sullavan (right).
Margaret Sullavan was obtained from Universal by mid-March as Dietrich's replacement (in exchange for Carole Lombard's services for My Man Godfrey) but the “jinx” struck again when Sullavan broke her arm as she tripped over a wire on the set, after only a few days on the job. A battle-weary Paramount finally shelved the picture when their next replacement choice, Merle Oberon, was unavailable due to a “prior engagement” – The Garden of Allah.
Dietrich and Boyer, reunited at Selznick.

Producer David O. Selznick, however, on receiving the news that Dietrich and Boyer had checked out of the “Imperial”, promptly evicted Oberon (and co-star Gilbert Roland) from his Sahara with vague promises to Merle about Dark Victory (Bette Davis would eventually emerge victorious there). By this time Paramount had seemingly lost interest in poor Merle, too.

Dietrich negotiated, called Korda in London (to delay A Knight Without Armour for a couple of weeks) and, on 26 March 1936, signed a $ 200 000 deal with Selznick International: she (and Boyer, and his toupée) agreed to (de)camp to a Technicolor Garden of Allah.

Paramount did get Hotel Imperial on screens in 1939 –  in a production starring the Italian Dietrich, Isa Miranda, but even then the old “jinx” re-emerged during filming, when Ray Milland was hospitalised after falling off a horse.

20 May 2014

Дитрих '64

This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of Marlene's 1964 tour of the USSR, where she performed in Moscow and Leningrad.

Marlene was welcomed to Moscow by a group that included actress Tamara Makarova.

On her opening night in Moscow, after 15 minutes of curtain calls, she addressed the audience:

"I have loved you for a long time. I love your music, your poetry, your writers and your artists, but most of all I love your soul. You have no lukewarm feeling. You are either sad or happy. I think I have a Russian soul myself."

05 April 2014

Doctor Dietrich's Best Production? Her Daughter.

[In 1971, Jeffrey Archer organised a charity midnight matinee (to benefit MIND) at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. It was Marlene Dietrich's first  concert appearance in London for several years. This backstage interview  with both Marlene and Maria Riva, preparing for the show   comes courtesy of the wonderful Crees Collection.]


by James Green

September 1971: Marlene at Heathrow.
There are many ways of saying Darling. But Marlene Dietrich's way is unique. A mixture of warning, invitation, seduction, plus a mocking suggestion that the men are about to be separated from the boys. But “Dar-ling” she says silkily by way of greeting. And crosses to plant a kiss on my five o'clock shadow. Not at all a bad start backstage at the Drury Lane theatre where tonight at midnight she will hold the football pitch size stage alone for one hour, 45 minutes. It is a charity concert and the audience will be paying up to £50-a-seat to hear her sing 25 songs and turn on the living legend magic.

At the moment she is wearing a navy blue coat with matching trousers, and a floppy-brimmed hat in the same colour pulled down over one eye.

As she checks on songs, running order, lighting, I have a word with her daughter, Maria.

25 March 2014

Another Season, Another Reason For Making . . . Auctions?

***See photos of the auction exhibition here or here***

For some, spring cleaning means tossing that can of tuna six months past its "best by" date. For the heirs of Marlene Dietrich, it means holding an auction! Helping the "new online auction service for Art, Antiques and Collectables Auctions," Auction My Stuff, launch its site, "Marlene Dietrich: The World's Most Glamorous Grandmother" is billed as including property from J. David Riva, J. Michael Riva, and J. Paul Riva. That leaves out one of Dietrich's grandsons, which I leave for you to cogitate. In fact, I'm still pondering the matter, especially after great-grandson J. Matthew Riva surmised that "Massy would not approve" on the Last Goddess Facebook page.

21 March 2014

The Trouble With Lilly

In 1939, before America's newest siren citizen, Marlene Dietrich sailed for Paris, she stopped by at the New York the salon of Lilly Daché (another European export to the US) for some head gear.

"I want three hats, no more!" Dietrich insisted, but salesgirls aware of her penchant for hats did their job well: Marlene left with 30.

"Each of these hats present a new and important trend, and though all were designed especially for the lovely Marlene, she consented to let Daché reproduce them for the rest of the waiting world," fan magazine, Photoplay, reported to its readers as it shared highlights of Marlene's spree:

  1. Teatime — and breast feathers rim the crown and coque feathers grace the brim of a coquettish little hat of raspberry velvet.
  2. The rippling, off-the-face silhouette, providing again that headsize-hats can be smart without being deep and clumsy. Dietrich chose hers in red and black striped angora tweed.
  3. A little Dutch Boy's visor topped  by a blousy, beret-crown. Marlene chose hers in beige suede.
  4. Sleek-as-a-seal black ciré turban.
  5. Turbans are so important, we'll have them in fur, too. Dietrich chose black fox with a sentimental cluster of rose smack in front, and grosgrain ribbons to anchor the back.
  6. Dietrich sailed away in this one! Black and white striped angora tweed postilion with pointed bandeau-back and copper anchor.

Sailing of the Normandie was temporarily halted in New York while the IRS seized Marlene's emeralds in lieu of back taxes she insisted she didn't owe. They missed  her really precious cargo, though: the latest Lilly Daché creations!
Marlene was a regular customer, but apparently couldn't be annoyed by Daché's bills. In 1942 The New York Times reported that the milliner was suing her movie star client for $4 141, which Daché claimed was owed to her for "hats, headdresses, gloves, muffs, sleeves, chokers and earrings".

According to Daché, she and Marlene had reached an agreement whereby accessories were designed especially for Dietrich, who could reject any of which she did not approve. There were not many of these: of 98 items delivered to Marlene, only 18 were returned. 

The remainder included a Persian lamb and jet jacket (at $650), silver opossum muff ($250), white bugle turban ($150), jersey gloves ($ 18.50 for a pair) — and our favourites: a pair of embroidered sleeves ($79.50) and a gold-fringed evening hatpin ($52.50).

03 February 2014

Marlene Dietrich's Beverly Hills Mansion: Then and Now

[Update: Thanks to Joseph's research  we've been able to identify Marlene's address in 1935 as 913 North Bedford Drive in Beverly Hills. See the comments section, below,  for more info.]

Let the tour begin ! 
(Click on any of the images to enlarge.)

Marlene lounges in the Sun Room, with its two-tone lacquered floors, a jungle mural by Charles Baskerville and moderne furnishings (including a mirrored backgammon table, white leather seating and animal print rugs).

22 January 2014

Marlene Dietrich: Two Legs, To Stand On.

What do you do for your legs to keep them looking so lovely?
Nothing. I was born with them.

What do you do to exercise them?
I just walk on them.

Why don't you want to show them anymore?
I have nothing new to show the world.

[Courtesy Crees Collection]