So I’m not a massive fan of retro stuff or the Golden Age of Hollywood, and I haven’t seen any of her films either, but this lady is legendary.
- Born 27 December 1951 in Schöneberg, the German Empire
- Died 6 May 1992 in Paris
- Show performer (post-war) as well as actress
The interesting stuff
Marlene’s Wiki page gets interesting once you get to the Personal Life section.
“Marlene, who was bisexual, enjoyed the thriving gay scene of the time and drag balls of 1920’s Berlin” and according to someone called Diana McLellan was also “the busiest and most passionate bisexual in theatrical Berlin” with “a notorious and compulsive appetite for the sexual seduction of other beautiful women” (source). I’d recommend reading that source by the way, there’s some pretty explicit details about an alleged affair between Dietrich and Garbo.
Onwards. “Throughout her career Dietrich had an unending string of affairs, some short-lived, some lasting decades; they often overlapped and were almost all known to her husband, to whom she was in the habit of passing the love letters of her men, sometimes with biting comments”. That is ice cold. And hella liberal.
She also banged “Mercedes de Acosta, who was Greta Garbo’s periodic lover”. Given that she said some pretty mean things about Garbo when those two were lovers, Garbo must have been livid. Also, was everyone in Hollywood at least bisexual at the time? Why is it full of asexual vegans nowadays?
“She counted George Bernard Shaw, John F. Kennedy and John Wayne among her conquests”. JFK got everywhere, the dirty old dawg.
Oh, and she also “maintained her husband and his mistress first in Europe and later on a ranch in […] California”.
According to Wikipedia this was all done out of the public eye as well, so she wasn’t some Marilyn Manson-esque shock figure, she just did her thang and was unapologetic about it. So I guess what I really like is that back in the 20’s there was a cool as fuck liberal woman who was hugely successful, made bank and partied hard. But she was also anti-Nazi and chose to adopt American citizenship rather than collaborate with the party.
Unfortunately, as cool as being a bad gyal in Berlin sounds, it had the usual predictable consequences. In the final 11 years of her life, Marlene became an alcoholic dependent on painkillers and was practically bedridden, with only a select few allowed to see her. She died of renal failure.
She was just cool, basically. And I like the fact that even though she paid the price for living a life of excess, she had fun and didn’t restrain herself because of what people might think. Something we could all learn from.