Marlene Dietrich

( 3 )

Overview

A landmark biography. The full-scale, riveting, hitherto untold story of Marlene Dietrich as only her daughter, Maria Riva - from girlhood through most of her life her mother's confidant and companion - knows it and can tell it. 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 ...
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Overview

A landmark biography. The full-scale, riveting, hitherto untold story of Marlene Dietrich as only her daughter, Maria Riva - from girlhood through most of her life her mother's confidant and companion - knows it and can tell it. 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

Riva, Marlene Dietrich's daughter, offers a biography of her famous mother as only she can do. From Dietrich's tortured early days to her Hollywoood heyday (and relationships with John Gilbert, Edith Piaf, Erich Maria Remarque, and others) to her brave work against the Nazis and her sad end as a Paris recluse, there was no drama more exotic that that of Dietrich's own life.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
As Marlene, the German-born Maria Magdalena Dietrich 1901-92 was a charismatic movie actress of the 1930s and 1940s. Like Greta Garbo, Dietrich symbolizes glamour and mystery. There are numerous books about the legend, including the star's own Marlene LJ 4/1/89. Riva, Dietrich's daughter, here adds her account. As anticipated, Riva's perspective is unique and affecting. Using her mother's diary, radiograms, and letters, she gives proper weight to Dietrich's youth, her experience on the Berlin stage, her collaboration with director Josef Von Sternberg e.g., The Blue Angel , 1930; Morocco , 1930, and her latter-day triumphs on stage and as a chanteuse. There are arresting tales here father and stepfather killed in World War I; a stint entertaining U.S. troops during the Battle of the Bulge; affairs with legends of the screen and other arts that give the reader a true grasp of both biographer and subject. Recommended for public libraries and film collections.Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/92. --Kim Holston, American Inst . for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters, Malvern, Pa.
Ray Olson
Coming late in the Dietrich-bio binge, this heavily reconstructed life has enough of the breathlessness and hyperbole, not to mention salaciousness, of a showbiz novel to outsell the others. It's the work of Dietrich's daughter who, once grown, became her mother's principal companion. Riva represents her mother as devoted to, not sex, but "Romance with every capital "R" available, declarations of utter devotion, lyrical passion." This is pretty much the impression that Spoto's "Blue Angel" gave, but Riva and her editors have made her account more compellingly readable, although some fans may wince at such disclosures as "Dietrich preferred medication to enter her body through her rectum" and "She preferred fellatio, it put into her hand the power to direct the scene." Scheduled for virtually simultaneous publication in Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Japan as well as America and featuring 217 photos, many said to be debutantes herein, it's possible to regard this as the "Gone with the Wind" of star bios--if, of course, it sells.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517130759
  • Publisher: Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/26/1993

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2004

    Refreshing and candid!

    Refreshing and candid. A favorite passtime of mine is browsing my corner bookstore in my lunch break, and I have a weakness for biographies. Can't seem to get enough of them! But I am reasonably clean when it comes to other dangerous addictions. While daydreaming, I stumbled over a biography written by Marlene's daughter, Maria Riva. It is (surprisingly) well written, and I ended up skipping lunch altogether to read instead. Apparently some talent from mom's boyfriends has rubbed off on Marlene's daughter, Maria. I was especially intrigued by the relations to Erich Maria Remarque;-- that affair of Marlene's might have been one of the longest relationships in her glittering gallery of affairs. I read a lot of Remarque's books in my young days, and I still return to them from time to time. Actually, Remarque is the reason I was reading anything about all of this in the first place. Review by Palle Jorgensen, September 2004.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2002

    One of the Best Books Ever Written!

    This book was beyond marvelous, beyond wonderful, beyond any superlative I can think of! This is an incredible story, lush with details of exotic people, places and circumstances, from Berlin in the 1930s to Hollywood to Paris. Maria Riva, the daughter of Marlene Dietrich, has a frightening story to tell that takes place in some of the most magical locales on earth. This is definitely Ms. Riva's story -more so than her eccentric mother's - and is well worth reading. I hated for it to end. Bravo, Maria Riva! You did an amazing job with this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2001

    Review of Marlene Dietrich Biography

    Just camne across this biography written some years ago-and cannot put it down. Being the same age as Ms. Riva and also born in Germany with a similar (but Jewish) background I identify with her childhood all the way! But her 'glamorous' life in Hollywood, makes me glad mine turned out more ordinary!

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