God knows how many of you remember Marlene Dietrich or even know who she was...but, the above song is not a song one would have associated with her. Dietrich was a "STAR" in the truest sense of that word....before the 'one name' recognition of very talented people ever really began...even before Elvis....There was Marlene!
This woman had been a star in her native Germany and came to the United States in 1930, having had a very successful career in theatre and films, climaxing with the original German version of "The Blue Angel" and she was then put under contract to Paramount Pictures...
Her American film career spanned from 1930 till around 1964, with a few more films after that....but she was this international icon by virtue of those early films in Germany and at Paramount and then later as a Cabaret Performer playing ALL the major cities of the world and making over a hundred recordings in English and German...
One of her most famous record albums came in this incredibly beautiful packaging, which, when you opened the cover, the perfume Dietrich wore (Lanvin's Arpege) would wisp it's way out, enveloping you in 'The Dietrich Mystique'...this album was a true gem, and was recorded 'live' opening night, at The Cafe De Paris in London with an introduction by the very great Noel Coward...1954.
When Dietrich was reviewed in London...Milt Shulman of The Evening Standard in London said:
"Slithering down the famous stairs like a glacier glinting in the sunlight came a fantasy in white furs and rhinestones that kissed Mr. Coward, wrapped itself round the microphone and turned out to be Miss Dietrich.
She was wearing a dress that could only be described as a masterpiece of illusion. It was transparent enough to make you think you were seeing everything and opaque enough to make you realise you were seeing nothing. Houdini must have designed it."
She was known for many many things...including the greatest pair of gams, ever! Even in her 70's, she exuded glamour and a sexuality like no other performer before her or since...It was said that she had affairs with both men and women and broke many many hearts...and I can believe it having seen her perform in concert in 1974.
Many years before, I had been on my way to an audition with my then accompanist, Nat Jones, and we were in a cab on 54th street in New York...and there walking towards our stopped-in-traffic cab, attempting to cross the street on a diagonal and going right by the cab and then behind it...heading for the downtown side of 54th street was Marlene...and those legs!
Nat and I both followed her with our eyes, twisting our heads to be able to see her through the back window of the cab, till she disappeared in the crowd of people walking on the sidewalk...YES! Dietrich and her legs were extraordinary!
Sitting in the theatre waiting for Dietrich to make her entrance in 1974 as Burt Bacharach conducted her overture, the audience was holding it's breath in anticipation of her arrival....she did not disappoint! Known for wearing these gorgeous long sparkling tasteful off white gowns on stage and entering from the wings with a long white fur wrapped around her shoulders and body...she was the epitome of the glamorous sexy woman, (even then, in her 70's)...who could wrap any man (and/or woman, I gather) around her little finger.
Singing many of her signature songs, like "Falling In Love Again"...not the more modern one, but the one from the 1930's..."Falling in Love Again..Never Wanted to...What Am I To Do, Can't Help it..." ...and then the B section of the song or chorus as it is called, has a line in it..."Men cluster to me like moths around a flame...And if their wings burn I know I'm not to blame...." and that was her reputation....a lady killer who shot men down by breaking their hearts and then moved on...So, for her to switch gears and sing "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" might seem completely out of character, but, indeed, it wasn't at all...
In spite of her German background she was very Anti Nazi...and during World War 2, having become an American citizen in 1939, she entertained our troops all over the world, traveling many times to very dangerous places near the fighting....she was later given The Medal Of Freedom by The United States Of America...her adopted and beloved country...
The highest honor a civilian can receive in this country..."Meritorious Service in support of Military Operations meeting grueling schedule of performances under battle conditions despite risk to her life"...A brave and loyal woman this Dietrich, on top of all her other attributes...
When Dietrich died in 1992, she was almost 91 years old...and there never was another like her, nor will there be....In the Orson Welles directed film "Touch Of Evil" Marlene has a line in which she says in reference to the the character that Orson Welles is playing in the film..."He was some kind of man"....
Artist's and their heartfelt convictions. If they are good, (and Dietrich was great) they touch you and move you and can break your heart, every time....and you remember them 32 years later, as if it were yesterday.
Bless Her And Bless Pete Seeger, Too.
More To Come.......
Being a lover of old movies, I certainly know who Marlene Dietrich was but for some reason I didn't know she was a singer as well as an actress, so I learned something today! :)
What a great post (as usual) Naomi!
Marlene Dietrich was a glamourous and lovely lady! I didn't realize that she sang either.
I certainly remember "Where have all the Flowers Gone" very well!! I knew almost all the words! I always liked that song but of course it made me sad.
Thanks for the memories Naomi! You do take us back.
Naomi, Everytime I visit Michele Agnew's I get you for my blog visit. I think we have radar for each other.
I love this Pete Seeger song and can't hear it or think of it without becoming emotional. I never knew Marlene D. sang it. What a visual.
Karin, Rachel & Colleen--
I am amzed that none of you knew that Dietrich sang...She sang in almost every movie she was in up until the late 50's early 60's...
"See What The Boys In The Backroom Will Have"..."Falling In Love Again"..."Lili Marlene" (one if her most famous film songs)..."Lola"..(From 'The Blue Angel'...)..."The Laziest Gal In Town", etc., etc....
One of my very favorite songs that she does on the Album I mentioned is a German song, "Frag 'Nicht Warum Ich Gehe"..(Don't Ask Me Why I'm Leaving...Don't Ak Me Why.." This is a BEAUTIFUL song...and one which I liked so very very much I learned it in German, so I could sing it, myself....When she entertained the troops overseas, what she did was to sing for the soldiers...
I don't know if you all will come back and see this, but I hope so...
I too have heard of Marlene - I'm sure she will remain an icon for generations to come. I knew she sang, just because, as you said, she sang in all her movies, but she is still played on the radio fairly regularly too (OK, on the radio stations I listen to, in the evenings when everyone else is out having fun, but still...)
I also know Where have all the flowers gone (although I'd forgotton I knew it till you reminded me). At school (in the 70's) we had a music teacher who appeared, taught us loads of great songs, such as Where have all the flowers gone?; If I had a Hammer; and Sixteen tons. We all loved her & suddenly music class was fun. She left verfy suddenly, without even saying goodbye, half way through her second term! And we went back to singing Oh Come all ye Faithfull in a monotone drone.
I'm glad it's not the 70's any more.
I do remember hearing her sing and seeing her some time in the past in old movie clips. I did not know much about her though, and this post really taught me a great deal. Thanks!
It seems that the starlets of old Hollywood are no more. None of our young lady stars have the glamour or persona.
I've never heard of that song, I'm going to find it now to have a listen!
I have a visual memory of seeing Marlene sing "Where Have All the Flowers Gone". I can't imagine what show she was on (maybe Ed Sullivan?) but I can hear it in my head; so slow and earthy and husky-voiced.
Thanks for the nice long comment on my CA postcard post. We're a good team, I think! LOL
You didn't have that song in mind because of your beatiful cacti, did you?
Wow they're something - we grow some in the UK, but in tiny pots on the window sill - lucky to get them to a foot tall in our weather.
Amen to your last line. Bless them. :-)
I never knew Dietrich sang either! You learn something new every day! :-)
I've always LOVED "Where Have all the Flowers Gone". WHen I was younger, I could sing and play it on the guitar..
I think that Marlene's legs are certainly a legacy, but to me, her voice was the most intriguing and sexy thing about her. Being in possession of the least sexy voice in the world, I've always envied that deep, husky purr of hers!
Michele sent me :)
Falling in love again never vanted to vhat am I do do I can't heeeelp it.
Of COURSE I know Marlene.
I was raised in an entertainment "aware" home all the way ;)
Her deep throaty voice is instantly recognisable :)
Another amazing post Naomi, I simply ADORE coming over here every day to read your latest.
I just finished reading a book called The Bad and the Beautiful about the seedy side of Hollywood in the 50's for some reason I kept thinking Naomi probably knows all these stories lol.
Of course, I remember Pete Seiger.
And who can forget that raspy voice of Dietrich!
I've heard that song. Interesting post!
Michele sent me today! Well, actually I sorta followed you here! LOL
Wow. How do you know all this stuff. i don't know if you like to read chick-lit, but I read one I liked that played off of old movies. It's called "Dreaming in Black and White." I reviewed it on my website if you are interested visit www.soulscents.us It was clever and good for a chuckle.
you know what i actually know that song! i started to hum it when i saw the tittle lol
I love Marlene! see, I can sing along in German too :D , lovely post, now I am off to listen to one of her CD's I have at home. Have you listened to Ute Lemper?
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I love this song.
What a great post.
And, those catcus...AWESOME!
That is one of my favorite songs. I knew the name Marlene D. and saw her when my parents or grandparents watched TV but do not remember much at all about her. This was a marvelous informative post about her! Wow! Fantastic post. EVery post I read, I think what a marvelously friendly person you must be!
P.S. I sent myself. :D (I have a theatre post currently up on an entirely different calibre than you. I hope you can swing by. I've read a lot about you on the net but I don't know if you performed in this theatre? I don't think so, but I bet you have been there...)
Isn't it amazing where our minds take us. I love that song and didn;t know as much about Marlene as I now do.
I hope you are well
I teach a history of rock class and I do a section on songs of pop and protest. pete seeger plays a big role in that piece.
That is a great song! I didn't know Ms. Dietrich sang it though! She had some awesome looking legs! WOW!!
I loved reading this post! You have quite a way with making things so interesting!! Love it!!
And.....I'm so happy you can read my site now!! I played around with the code, not sure what all I did, but it seems to have worked! LOL
i have heard of it, but i can't remember how it goes, will have to look it up!
I certainly remember that song. I was a little girl during that era, but it that war effected me greatly, and led me to my beliefs today. I was born about 10 years too late. i would have made a damn good hippy.
And Marlene! Well, those legs are the envy of any woman.
I really enjoyed this post of yours Naomi! I actually thought of you yesterday at that film shoot. Maybe I was feeling your positive energy?
They don't make stars like that anymore. She was a true legend in every sense of the word. Thank you for sharing this personal memoir. You have such a neat perspective on this world and the people who inhabit it.
Of course I know Marlene! I love, love this post, Naomi! Where have all the flowers gone? So very true. Makes me want to cry...sigh.
I wish I could hear a recording of Dietrich sing that song. What a lovely tribute you did for her.
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Good morning, Naomi!!!
We watched "Witness for the Prosecution" earlier this year. I must have Tyrone Power on the brain!! Marlene was terrific in it.
Everyone was terrific in that movie.
I am now on a Glenn Ford kick having finally seen "The Courtship Of Eddie's Father". I believe that I spied your friend Lee M. in it as his secretary.
I love old films, especially when they clean them up to pristine levels and add commentary with surviving stars.
Happy September 1st!
Much love, Stan
now that was worthy of a printed article in a magazine!!
Unfortunately I am old enough to know Marlene and Pete Seeger lol.I guess that put us in the "older generation" catagory lol
we were very lucky though.. we had the greatest actors and actresses! (no I am not saying there aren't great ones now) but we had a lot more of them!...and I can smile at the thought of that. I particularly don't think we have many great character actors anymore... and we had lots of them too!
great post naomi! "thanks for the memories" (said in my best Bob Hope voice lol)
Thank you for such an informative post. I know nothing about Marlene except her name and that she was an actress. I don't believe I've ever seen her in anything. Which movie of hers would you recommend?
I love Marlene Dietrich -- her glamor was inimitable and her acting excellent! (Glamorous isn't what it used to be. Sigh. I tried to think of an actress today that I'd call glamorous and failed). Thanks for the Netflix link!
I love them both. Your post brought tears to my eyes.
What a fantastic post, brought back loads of memories.
I can't remember Dietrich when she actually starred in the movies, but I have, of course, watched re-runs on 'Turner Classic Movies',a channel which I love.
I had no idea that Marlene also sang, but sure enough her name is there, whenever you look up the fantastic song 'Where Have All The Flowers Gone?'
Over here in the UK, when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, although we often heard the cover version by Pete Seeger, my main recollection was the version performed by 'Peter, Paul and Mary'(of 'Puff The Magic Dragon' fame),who were very popular here at the time.
I can't believe it but I have never seen her. Hopefully I can catch her on TCM.
I loved that song and will have to see if I can find a rendition of her singing it.
Thanks for such an interesting post Naomi.
I had TCM on all day yesterday and saw lots of her. It was great. She really was something.
I recall Madonna saying that she modeled some of her video personas after Marlene
TCM is a treasure!!
I got my nieces hooked and I'm so glad, they need to expand their horizons
Marlene was a treasure
I remember Johnny Rivers sang it.
Hey Naomi, am so glad I found you as I searched for old Feaginites. Have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of your commentaries. Your latest brought back some great memories for I caught a Deitrich appearance at a fundraiser in Madison Square Garden years ago. All in white, she dominated the place....a device Elizabeth Taylor employed often. And Pete Seeger! Many summers found Roger and me in Cold Spring above Garrison on the Hudson where he would sail up to the tiny dock in his Sloop...to sing and raise "clean up funds" for the river. Memories...I thank you. Be well and keep your pen going! Sherwood Snyder III
Love that song. Timely, too, unfortunately. And I can just imagine Marlene singing it in her deep voice.
Thanks, Naomi :-)
Oh she was beautiful wasn't she? Such an old Hollywood beauty.
oh, my dear lady! what a wonderful tribute to this magnificent talented beauty, a star of stars in every way - the jewel of them all - and of pete seeger - well, again, what can be said that has not already been said - i was privileged to have participated in a political demonstration in dc where he performed along with those daring others peter paul and mary to name but a few - it was a cold and rainy day - dark and dreary but for the magnificence of spirit of those of us gathered there in common spirit and goal - in any event, i was also very fortunate to have gotten some wonderful b/w images of all the best of the best that day - images and memories i shall always cherish - again, thanks for this moving post, naomi - oh, and as a little aside - i laughed out loud with your mention of lanvin's arpege! a fragrance i remember well!!!
What a fascinating and interesting profile of a real star. Definitely a woman worth remembering for her performances and her life. I like that her face is not just lovely but interesting which I consider more important than beauty alone which can be boring.
I'm old enough to know who she is, her reputation, and what she looks like but I'm also young enough that I didn't know much else. The song Where Have all the Flowers Gone gives me chills and I respect her all the more for having sung it. I am one that enjoys when artists make statements through their art. I think that's what it's for!
You don't need me to tell you, Naomi, but of course you can watch all the tv and movies you want! I bet you didn't watch to the degree kids do today when you were young so I think you have some hours in the bank! (referring to the comment I posted about TV watching taking years off your life).
Dear Naomi you did a great post as always! Yes, Marlene Dietrich was a great actress, but I don't saw many films acting by her... I must to rent some videos... Her throaty voice is amazing and very charming.
Have a pleasant Sunday!
Bravo Marlene. There will never be anyone quite like her. I only ever saw her on film and TV but a friend had dinner with her and raved about her economy of movement,her magnetism, her genuine star quality. No-one knew more about lighting so she never had a dud shot and her voice had a haunting quality. I used to sing all her songs - for the family only:
'Oh see what the boys in the back room will have - and tell then I'm having the same,'in a deep deep voice in a heavy German accent. May she forgive me.
What a fantastic post! I know very little about Marlene, but from the photos I can understand why she would appeal to all genders.
I'm sure I remember that song by someone else? My brother was a big Joan Baez fan and I seem to think she sang the song to.
I never realised she was 91 when she died! She lived a long and full life!
Oh I cant really warm to Marlene for some reason. But I do love that Pete Seeger song. Just beautiful. Now I have to go find it online and play it. Just gentle and beautiful lyrics.
Marlene Dietrich is a fashion icon! I learned most about her through fashion and the top designers that use her as their muse or inspiration!
Why is it I can't think of Marlene Dietrich without thinking of Gilda Radner and Madeline Kahn on SNL? Funny Stuff!
Not sure what is going on Naomi, but I did not write that earlier comment that it says was made by me, (the second comment). This is the first time I have read this post. I also noticed that Colleen made a comment as the next one (third comment), and I checked down and she made another comment, so I wonder who made those comments that were supposed to be mine and hers?? Very strange!!!
Anyway... I have heard of Marlene Dietrich before but I'm not that familiar with her. She is a lovely lady and obviously was very entertaining and talented!! I do recall the Pete Seeger song very well! I sang along with it when it played on the radio back in those days!
Do you recall Paul Simon's song "Kodachrome?" I couldn't understand the lyrics and I would sing along and sing, "Mama don't take my clothes and throw them away!" Lol I just remembered that!! Funny!! The actual lyrics were "Mama don't take my Kodachrome away."
Hope you and Sweetie are doing well dear lady! Hugs!!
I do remember Dietrich! You've written a marvelous tribute to her, providing quite a bit of information new to me and other I had previously forgotten.
I never knew she sang "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" but your description makes it easy to imagine her doing so.
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