A letter from Ernest Hemingway to Marlene Dietrich is among an assortment of memorabilia belonging to the Hollywood legend that is going up for auction in Los Angeles.
Starting out as silent movie actress in Berlin in the 1920s, she shot to international fame in the 1930 movie ‘The Blue Angel’, which earned her a contract in the US.
Dietrich was known to have strong political convictions and the mind to speak them. A staunch anti-Nazi, she became an American citizen in 1939.
“This collection shows the side of her that was a little bit more human in that sense,” said her grandson, J David Riva, who decided it was time to let the iconic items go rather than have them gather dust in safety deposit boxes.
“She spoke a lot about politics, she spoke a lot about different things that were going on in her life in a much more personal and less ‘Marlene Dietrich’ way and I think that’s the interesting thing about the letters and a lot of the personal items. They reflect a different person from the created and crafted image that she had intended the public to see most of the time,” he adds.
Dietrich remained popular throughout her long career by continually re-inventing herself.
After the war, she toured the world as a successful cabaret performer. She ended her showbiz career in 1975, when she withdrew to her Paris apartment, where she died at the age of 90.
“Marlene learned from history that if you’re somebody who dies young, like a Marilyn Monroe or James Dean or somebody else, you remember them the way they were when they died, you don’t remember what they would look like today,” says Riva.
“And so she put herself away in a locked box to make sure people remembered her the way she was seen because that was her only form of income. That made her still popular, that made commercial people still want to use her image, it made magazines pay her for interviews, her books would still sell, but if the public had seen what she’d become, she figured her glamour would go out of the window, and of course she was right.”
More than 250 personal items having belonged to Marlene Dietrich are on display at the Hollywood Museum in Los Angeles and can be purchased online until April 6.