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A fascinating self-portrait of one of the greatest entertainers of Hollywood’s golden age
Film star. Cabaret sensation. Recording artist. Writer. Marlene Dietrich was nothing short of enchanting—and remains so as she chronicles her fabulous rise to stardom in Marlene. From her early career in Germany as a chorus girl to her breakout role as Lola in The Blue Angel to her courageous wartime tours, Dietrich recounts a life that captivates on the page just as she smoldered on the screen. She writes passionately of her friends—including Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, and Edith Piaf, among many others—and she shares memories of what she calls her greatest accomplishment: entertaining the Allied troops during World War II. A sustained expression of her bold, sophisticated style, Marlene reminds us why Dietrich remains an international icon and a true Hollywood legend.
Attansio's translation from the German echoes the voice of the actress, famous since the 1930s as the quintessence of glamor and beauty. Yet Dietrich herself and the intimates she writes about remain obscure in the narrative, despite some deeply moving images: she makes palpable, for example, her bewildered pain as a child in Germany during the World War I, experiences that contributed to her sturdy independence. And there is enormous pathos in her recollections of platonic friendship with her beloved Hemingway and with the doomed ``sparrow,'' Edith Piaf. Dietrich writes of entertaining the allied troops during WW II, of her SRO concerts around the world and of her performances on stage and TV. She expresses admiration for Joseph von Sternberg, the director who starred her, an ``unknown,'' in the film classic The Blue Angel. But only by indirection does the memoir disclose the personhood of Dietrich, mother of Maria and wife to the late Rudolf Sieber: ``I've done my duty. I've assumed my responsibilities. That's all that counts for me.'' Photos not seen by PW. First serial to Cosmopolitan.