|L-R Israel Demchick, Marlene Dietrich, Joshua Ellis, Selma Ellis. |
The partially obstructed banner behind them reads in full: "American Friends of the Hebrew University," the organization that sponsored the event. Philadelphia hotel. October 2, 1971
I was a big fan of Marlene Dietrich and adored her one-woman show on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 1967. I was 18 at the time.
In 1971 or 1972, Miss Dietrich was given an award by Israel's Hebrew University for her fund-raising efforts on their behalf. The award was given at a Philadelphia hotel, but I do not remember which one. I was there that night because my grandfather, a Philadelphia-based architect named Israel Demchick, was also being honored for his fund-raising efforts on behalf of the university.
I think many in the audience were intimidated by Marlene Dietrich and she was very much alone during the early meet-and-greet part of the evening. I decided to go over to her and introduce myself.
First, I explained to her my connection to her fellow award recipient. It was just the two of them being honored.Could she be any more Dietrich?
Miss Dietrich: "You are very young. Are you in school?"
Me: "Yes, Miss Dietrich."
MD: "What are you studying?"
Me: "I'm getting my masters degree in theatre."
MD: "The theatre? That's ridiculous! You should be studying something practical like chemistry or physics. It's a good thing I'm not your grandmother!"