Marlene Dietrich courted controversy (quite fabulously) all her life through her infidelities (with both men and women including Frank Sinatra and Edith Piaf), her cross-dressing, unashamed vanity and unconventional relationship with her daughter, Maria, who subsequently wrote her biography, exposing her mother's dalliances and alcoholism.
As a film icon though, it is her image that is indelibly engrained upon our collective memory. Her perfectly rouged cupid's bow, sculpted golden blonde bob, pencil-thin crescentic eyebrows and come-to-bed eyes have together become a kind of photographic definition of the Silver Screen star, along with her tuxedos, top hats and cigarette holders. Rarely do I think of her in anything else but a close-up; I can't recall a Hollywood actress who can command such emotion and drama through a portrait. Her gaze is seductive, audacious and unsettling.
Marlene died in Paris aged 90 in 1992, but her life, loves and unapologetic ways are in the headlines again as her grandson prepares for what promises to be the celebrity auction of the year (and possibly decade) on the 19th of March on Auction My Stuff -- hardly a title that befits the enduring allure of one of the world' s most celebrated cinematic legends is it?!
Still, with over 250 lots on offer, including love letters, make-up compacts like the one below and cigarette lighters, this sale provides a little more insight into the actress's life.
According to the Telegraph, the 'top lot' is a letter from Ernest Hemingway to Marlene which is rife with 'double entendre and provocative imagery' - it's estimated at $35,000-$50,000. So the sale is open to all, but affordable only to the rich and famous. I imagine Madonna will have her 'people' on it, possibly 'Vogueing' as they put in a winning bid. [Shudder].
If I were bidding, it would be on Marlene's double-breasted tuxedo with silk lapels. No one could ever hope to wear it as seductively as her, but I'd take it out and show it a good time, god knows it must have been to some outrageous parties. What a life.