|I only met MARLENE once in my life, but my impression was
overwhelming. I saw her in Paris in the seventies. I got home and started to write to her,
she answered, thank God, signed and autographed my letters, pictures and paintings through
all the years.
I started to read all about 'lovely MARLENE' and was so
pleased to know the living legend, MARLENE DIETRICH.
Since that time I have been under her spell.
I began to collect her autographs, vintage photos, films, records, CDs, books, postcards,
magazines, posters, lobby cards, press pictures, simply everything I could get. In more
than four decades, I have built up a interesting collection, including super rare recorded
songs, unpublished photographs of stage and private moments and even some of
MARLENE's private wardrobe.
So much has been written about MARLENE, but she herself
commented: "Quatsch! What's true is, that what you read is untrue...". I have
indeed read so many nonsense in those clippings and books I hoarded in my shelves. Even
the book by her own daughter couldn't scratch the icon, the legend MARLENE DIETRICH goes on
So I will not dare start another fiction about her
fascinating, interesting life. Some facts about her career, films and records can be found
on my detailed MARLENE DIETRICH COLLECTOR'S page. All books, picture books, and even the
pages in the net, mostly show stills from her movies. Well, I do love those still shots
out of her over fifty gorgeous films, but besides to her glistening phenomenon on the
silverscreen, my main interest is in MARLENE as an entertainer, the daughter of Berlin out
there alone upon the stages of the world.
These one-woman shows, often copied but never equaled, was
frequently conducted by
Burt Bacharach. Decades later, I visited a few theaters where she had performed in Germany
and some of the 'rest' of her world tour. Success everywere, from Las Vegas to Broadway;
Australia; England; Germany; Poland; Sweden; Danmark; Holland; France; Monaco; Italy;
Japan; Hawaii; Russia; Argentina and Brasil, where she recorded one of her best album,
'DIETRICH IN RIO' 1959 by Bras.CBS/Columbia.
MARLENE started this second career in December 1953 at the
Saraha Hotel in Las Vegas at the age of 51. She kept on touring for 22 years and enchanted
the whole wide world with her unforgettable songs. Many were already familiar from her
films, Lili Marleen, The Boys in the Backroom, I Wish You Love, Where
have all the Flowers gone and Falling in Love Again became her trade mark. She
appeared alternately in black or white tuxedos, with her top hat always at a cheeky angel
and in her legendary, buglebeaded Jean Louis gowns. This glory is topped by furs, feathers
and of course her famous swan coat: breathtaking !
In 1972 MARLENE gave permission for two performances of her
show in the New London Theatre to be recorded for television. Even in 1960, when she made
her first ever TV recording for Swedish television, she was skeptical of this medium. She
was also unhappy with the result of the London recording. She would like to have engaged
Orson Welles as the director, as she never wished to leave anything to chance.
MARLENE retired to her Paris domicile after a bad accident
in Sydney in 1975 and never dared take a step on stage again.
She packed her 68 show costumes away and then they disappeared into one of her warehouses
in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris and Geneva.
All these works of art, together with her gigantic estate will be on exhibition at the
Filmmuseum MARLENE DIETRICH COLLECTION BERLIN (MDCB).
In 1979 MARLENE was persuaded to play a cameo role in a her
last film Just a Gigolo with David Bowie in the leading part. They never met, as
her scences were filmed near her home in Paris. The Swedish designer Mago, a friend and
companion in her last years in the entertainment business, designed her last film wardrobe
which was made by none other then House of Chanel. After filming had ended, the diva took it for
granted that she could keep these costumes without asking, a typically DIETRICH
idiosyncrasy. This is why there are now over 50 film costumes in her estate.
In 1984 Maximilian Schell made a very moving documentary
film about her life; 'MARLENE'. For about 223 000 dollars she spoke on tape, but
never allowed a picture shot nor film. "No thank you, I've been photographed to death
!" The years passed by in her own chosen solitude. She often changed her telephone
number, so that only a chosen few could get in touch with her. Most of her contemporaries
and trusted friends had already passed away.
Outside the Ave. Montaigne 12 paparazzi still hunted the
diva. Even to the extent of mounting cameras on a mobile crane to take a snapshot of the
legend. A destruction of the myth ? Very few were allowed to enter her dark sacred
chambers. Due to her age she was weak, tired and bedridden. On the sunny spring morning of
May 6, 1992, MARLENE DIETRICH entered immortality.