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Marlene's in there, too, seemingly with an outdated address (she'd surely moved further up, to 993 Park Avenue, by then: her alphanumeric phone number is correct, though!).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