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|Additional Physical Format:||Online version:
New York : Knopf, 1993
|Named Person:||Marlene Dietrich; Maria Riva; Marlene Dietrich; Maria Riva; Marlene Dietrich; Maria Riva|
|All Authors / Contributors:||
|Description:||789 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm|
|Responsibility:||by her daughter, Maria Riva.|
With her total recall of the detail and texture of her mother's life, she powerfully evokes a woman, a career, a world.
Here is Dietrich the child - the adored Maria Magdalena - raised meticulously by a mother who knew her place as a successful tradesman's daughter in Berlin society and her duty as a good wife ... the adolescent Lena, revealed in Dietrich's voluminous and emotional life-long diaries (at age seventeen: "Somebody told me I looked like a doll one wants to keep on kissing" ... "I had a very big fight with Mutti.
She said that as I 'hang' around with all those schoolboys, that I must be boy crazy" ... "Countess Gersdorf, your feet are pink my heart is set on fire for you ... ").
We see the young Marlene, the energetic, disciplined, quickly successful actress whose mother equated actors with shiftless tambourine-playing thieves ... Marlene about to marry Rudolf Sieber ("He was dressed like an English lord on his country estate. A little assistant director in real tweeds. Right away I knew I loved him!") ...
Marlene totally trusting her husband's impeccable instinct for an approach that would work for his actress-wife: to play vulgarity but not become it, to startle the world but maintain the aloofness of an aristocrat.
Here is Dietrich in the Berlin of the 1920s, becoming recognized for her sharp wit, her bisexual sensuality; in top hat, white tie, and tails (made by her husband's tailor), visiting cabarets where transvestites congregated and performed, embodying for them all they yearned to be ... Marlene seen through the eyes of her young daughter ("At age three, I knew quite definitely that I did not have a mother, I belonged to a queen").
Dietrich is here in all of her incarnations: Sternberg's muse and collaborator in The Blue Angel, Morocco, Shanghai Express, The Scarlet Empress, The Devil Is a Woman ("Mister von Sternberg is a ... god! A Master! No wonder they all hate him ... He paints, like Rembrandt, with his lights").
And without him, Dietrich floundering until, with her understanding of what he had done and how he had done it, she was able herself to create Shanghai Lily in all her luminous beauty and to take command of Marlene Dietrich, the Movie Star.
We see Dietrich the international symbol of unattainable glamour ... Dietrich as Box Office Poison ... Dietrich reborn as (almost) the girl next door, in Destry Rides Again ... Dietrich in control of her husband, her husband's mistress, her own daughter, her own lovers, her films (the minutest detail of costume and lighting) ...
Dietrich the Romantic ... Dietrich visiting Colette, talking till dawn with Erich Maria Remarque, searching for Jean Gabin in Algiers, adored by Brian Aherne, helplessly in love with Yul Brynner, palling around with Noel Coward and Cole Porter ... Dietrich desiring - needing - ultimate Romance, passionate declarations of eternal devotion; her lovers unwittingly playing the roles she cast them in.
Dietrich in her fifties and sixties, Vegas star, SRO concert performer around the world again, and again, and again ... Dietrich in her eighties, divorcing herself from the world, making herself invisible, devoting herself to the immortality of The Legend.
But what we have said barely does justice to the rich complexity of the story told, the woman revealed, the world portrayed in Maria Riva's astonishing work. Her biography of her mother has the depth, the range, and the resonance of the nineteenth-century novel and the conviction and feeling of life passionately recollected.
- Dietrich, Marlene.
- Riva, Maria.
- Entertainers -- Germany -- Biography.
- Children of entertainers -- United States -- Biography.
- Children of entertainers.
- United States.
- Children of entertainers -- Biography -- United States
- Dietrich, Marlene
- Entertainers -- Biography -- Germany
- Riva, Maria