Thursday, October 13, 2005

Marlene Dietrich - Cold As Ice.

ON SCREEN she was a seductive vamp in top hat and tails, and off screen her conquests included Frank Sinatra, Yul Brynner and John F Kennedy. Yet Marlene Dietrich hated sex, preferred impotent men and had a schizophrenic personality, according to her only daughter. I guess totaly different than the other sex godess Vivien Leigh (read the post).

Maria Riva, whose mother was one of the 20th century's most iconic actresses, has given a candid interview with a German magazine, Bunte, in which she insisted that Dietrich, who became a sex symbol to both men and women through films such as Blue Angel and Morocco, had a "hatred of sex".

Ms Riva, 81, has written a memoir entitled My Mother Marlene in which she details the legendary actress's descent into alcoholism. Ms Riva, who previously published a lengthy biography of her mother - who died in 1992 - said she was once told by her, in reference to her long list of lovers of both sexes: "I never felt anything - with any of them."

In a previous interview with Larry King, the American talk show host, Ms Riva said: "My mother hated sex and lived in romance."

In the interview with Bunte to be published today, Riva said Dietrich's aversion to sex did not deter countless men from pursuing her. "All of her lovers wanted to marry her anyway," she said. Riva said Dietrich's hatred of sex and sometimes distant personality often made her feel sorry for the men who fell in love with her glamorous mother.

"Marlene Dietrich the film star was always just the person in the mirror, but never her real self," said Riva. "She was a totally normal schizophrenic."

It was Dietrich's performances in Berlin cabarets and more than a dozen German films during the 1920s that prompted her discovery by American film producers. She moved to Hollywood in 1930, much to the chagrin of Adolf Hitler, where her roles in American productions propelled her rise to fame. During the 1930s, Dietrich became a vocal opponent of the Nazi leadership in her native Germany, and she eventually became an American citizen in 1937.

Before the outbreak of the Second World War she had a long affair with Joseph Kennedy, and almost 30 years later, she had sex in the White House with his son, President John F Kennedy.

Dietrich was bisexual and had affairs with a number of women, including Edith Piaf, but her daughter insisted she did not have a love affair with Greta Garbo, the silent movie star, as had long been rumoured.

Marlene Dietrich appears to have had a complicated approach to sex, which was initiated when she lost her virginity to a music teacher at an all-girl school when she was 19.

While she had affairs with the most virile men of their day, including Frank Sinatra and Yul Brynner, she told her daughter that she preferred impotent men. Dietrich once told her: "It's nice you can sleep and it's cosy."

Written by STEPHEN MCGINTY
www.scotsman.com

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