Book Review: Marlene, Marlene Dietrich A Personal Biography by Charlotte Chandler

From the movie that started her career:

Der Blaue Engel or The Blue Angel 1929-1930 is the movie that launched Marlene Dietrich's career as a movie star. She had made several low key movies in Germany that she'd considered unimportant and really preferred to not discuss. She came to America in 1930 leaving her husband Rudi and young daughter Marie in Germany. Later Marlene relocated her husband and young daughter to America to be near her. Marlene's mother and sister refused to leave Germany. Nazi Germany was a big reason why Marlene left, she despised what Germany had become in its politics and societal beliefs. She also understood the devious nature of Hitler. Marlene and Rudi Sieber married young and had one daughter Marie. Marlene and Rudi, although she stated they loved each other, had an open marriage. Most of the years of their lengthy marriage, they lived apart. For 33 years Rudi had an affair with a former Russian chorus girl. After making Blue Angel Marlene went on to make Morocco. In this movie she wore mens clothing (which was shocking in the 1930's). Women just did not wear pants, it was considered male attire and risqué. In this break out role, Marlene set new standards and liberties that had not been taken before. The book mentions all the movies she appeared in. Marlene was an entertainer on the front line in Europe during World War II. My dad saw her perform in St.Vie Belgium December 1944--this was right before The Battle of the Bulge. Dad was disappointed that he did not get to "see" her famous legs! The book also includes the years she sang on stage with the leadership and guidance of Burt Bacharach. In her later life she was plagued with painful and debilitating injuries living out her last years in a Paris apartment.
Born 27 December 1901 and Died 6 May 1992
I noticed at Amazon the book has not received good reviews. Of course I've not read the biography written by Marlene's daughter Marie Riva which has better reviews. And, I am by-far NOT an expert on Marlene Dietrich's history.
My only dislike of this book is I was left with several unanswered questions such as: why did Marlene and Rudi live apart so much, even in their later years, and especially after she stated several times in the book how much they'd loved each other? She stated their love was passionate in the early years, did this not continue? I also wandered why she and her sister did not reconcile. If Marlene loved her as she stated why would she cut her sister out of a photograph as if she were dead?
I guess the explanation could be that Marlene may not have known either, meaning she didn't want to deal with these particularly harsh relationship issues, so avoidance was her answer. 
What I did like is that Marlene in her interview by the author was allowed to speak with little breaking in by the author. It was as if we too were in the room listening to Marlene tell "her story".
I also like it that other people that had known Marlene intimately were interviewed: her youngest grandson, Mae West, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Ted Kennedy and Ray Milland.
The book does talk about her various affairs. If you noticed I left out love, she stated the only other man besides her husband she loved was the actor Jean Gabin.
Her bisexuality is only sparsely explained in one paragraph. 
To Marlene (as is probably most actor's) image was most important to her. Her beauty, great legs, porcelain skin, svelte figure, all diminished when she was older. Because of her age, fading beauty, and health problems she rarely left her Paris apartment. Her six phone-lines in her apartment was her only link to the outside world.

Published March 29, 2011 by Simon and Schuster
320 pages/Biography/Hollywood Actress/World War II/Germany

Link for the book @ Simon and Schuster:
$26.00 for Hardcover 

Link for the book @ Amazon:
Hardcover $16.81

Blissful Reading!


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