Saturday, October 03, 2009

Glamour Puss Par Excellence


Marlene Dietrich was distinctive on so many levels; her voice, her cheekbones, her legs (insured for thousands of dollars in the forties) and bisexual or no, her ability to pulverise both sexes with her jaw- dropping glamour. No-one – with the possible exception of Katie Hepburn - could make a trouser suit look like the chic -est garment to come out of Paris. Like other glamour ladies she ended her days bed bound in Paris where she died aged 91 in 1992.


I remember her best during the fifties and seventies when she took her show all over the world and well into her middle age would sing in a statuesque pose, in a flesh coloured dress that looked as if she had been poured into it. Sadly one night she toppled off the stage which was the beginning of her decline. She was before her time, singing ‘Where have all the Flowers gone.’ about the gradual pollution of the planet.


She made many films – possibly the most famous was ‘Blue Angel’ where she sang
‘Oh see what the boys in the backroom will have and tell them I’m having the same.
which was my party piece as a young girl. When she was in London in the fifties one of my modelling friends was lucky enough to have dinner with her. She was impressed with Marlene’s movements – when it was time to leave the restaurant she scooped up her cigarettes and lighter into her handbag with one clean movement. Her legs were encased in pale, pale silk stocking - the exact shade of her very high -heeled shoes which made her legs seem to go on for ever. I followed this ruse and swear it’s why I landed a contract with Plaza nylons.

17 comments:

Kim Ayres said...

A woman of style and glamour - you should run exclusive classes, Pat - show them how's its done. Any photos of your Plaza nylons days?

Four Dinners said...

Apparently she could also be a real House Frau too. According to David Niven's autobiography she nursed him through a fever. Cleaning and dusting and changing his bed until he was well.

I'd have loved to have been around in those days. So much more sort of civilised in a way.

Blue Angel is a great movie. Got it on Video.

sablonneuse said...

Ummm, now I wonder whether pale silk stockings and matching high heels could work wonders for my short, fat (but hopefully not hairy) legs. Somehow I doubt anything would work for me. ;(

kenju said...

Yeah, photos of the nylon ads, please!

Pat said...

Kim: that is the only one I can find.

4dinners: yes the Haus Frau bit is certainly true. Blue Angel is great.
did you notice she was plumper in her early days - later she got cheek bones to die for.

Sandy: believe me every little helps - worth making the effort for the big occasion.

Judy: that will have to do - it's the only one I can find.

Scarlet-Blue said...

Blimey Pat!!! What a wonderful tale. Huge kudos.
Sx

Charlie said...

Keep the stories coming, Pat. I'm selfish.

angryparsnip said...

Love Love Love your stories. . . more please ! and I think that picture of you is quite Fabulous...

cheers, parsnip

Pat said...

Scarlet: thank you:)

Charlie: and patient:)

Parsnip: you are very kind:)

Kevin Musgrove said...

Excellent stuff, ta Pat.

Destry Rides Again. (-;

Pat said...

Kevin: was that with James Stewart?

Guyana-Gyal said...

I didn't know that song was about pollution but it makes sense now, it's such a sad song.

There are so many singers, musicians out there to learn about, to listen to, one day, when I can afford broadband...!

Kim @ comment 1 is so right.

Guyana-Gyal said...

As for those movies. Hm, I have an idea...when friends and family ask me what I want for my birthday, I will tell them those movies.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

She lived on the same street in Paris where my first job was. She was much loved by the French for her stand against Hitler and her long passionate affair with Jean Gabin. And, of course, her elegance. I can sing a few of her songs in German. Bert nearly fell off his chair when I sang "Ich bin die fesche Lola" to him one night during the Seville championships. We had a moving little session in the hotel bar - French, Belgians, Germans, Brits all singing Lili Marlene together. That's what Europe is all about.

Pat said...

GG: I just assumed that was what she meant. There are a lot of unknown - as you say. I find you tube such a boon to try out ones I'm not familiar with and remind myself of half forgotten ones.
Movies gifts are an excellent idea - for any age.

Daphne: there you go again you see. You can speak the lingo.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I always loved Marlena! I wrote a post about her a few years ago---That song, by the way, is really an Anti-War song more than about the environment---In the last verse, The Flowers have gone to the graves of dead soldiers...I saw her "in person" twice. Once around 1955-56, on a New York street--54th street I think---I was on my way to an Audition at a little Nightclun and I was in a cab which was still because of traffic. She was walking towards us and crossed the street behind our cab...My accompinist and I watched her every move---Those legs were gorgeous! She was dressed in a lovely suit and had on a hat---Obviously on her way someplace fancy!
Then I saw her perform her show with Burt Bacharach conducting at The Ahmanson Theatre here in L.A, in the very early 1970's...Our seats were very close to the stage---and that description of her dress that you gave was exactly right on the money. She was fantastic! (And in fact one of the songs she sang was "WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE" and it brought one to tears)
Her greatest record album was recorded "LIVE" At the Cafe De Paris, in Paris, introduced by Noel Coward. It was a double sided cover enclosed in some kind of cellophane thing. When you took that off and opened the album there was the distinct fragerance of her favorite perfume!!! It was really something. I still have that Album. She was a great great performer!

Pat said...

Naomi: thank you for putting me right about the song - lazy journalism on my part. And thank you for that wonderful comment - best comment of the month:)