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Summary

With intimate detail, author Maria Riva reveals the rich life of her mother, Marlene Dietrich, the charismatic star of stage and screen whose career spanned much of the 20th century. Opening with Dietrich's childhood in Schöneberg, Riva's biography introduces us to an energetic, disciplined, and ambitious young actress whose own mother equated show business with a world of vagabonds and thieves.  

Dietrich would quickly rise to stardom on the Berlin stage in the 1920s with her sharp wit and bisexual mystique, and wearing the top hat and tails that revolutionized our concept of beauty and femininity. She comes alive in these pages in all her incarnations: muse, collaborator, bona fide movie star, box-office poison, lover, wife, and mother.   

During World War II, Dietrich would stand up to the Nazis and galvanize American troops, eventually earning the Congressional Medal of Freedom. There were her artistic relationships with Josef von Sternberg (The Blue Angel, Morocco, Shanghai Express), Colette, Erich Maria Remarque, Noël Coward, and Cole Porter, as well as her heady romances. And in her final years, Dietrich would make herself visibly invisible, devoting herself to the immortality of her legend.

©2017 Maria Riva (P)2020 Tantor

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Utterly Fascinating

I wasn’t sure given the length but I was completely hooked and couldn’t stop listening. It is a compelling and honest insight into the life and trials of a legend. It is not a “mommie dearest” but an honest account of a loving but flawed relationship and having had the book for years I’m so glad to have finally listened to it. Brilliantly narrated and makes you appreciate the star system even more.

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Fascinating Read

Whether or not you are a fan, this is a fascinating book! Riva writes beautifully and paints a scene so vividly you feel that you are there. Highly recommend!

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  • Tabitha McIntyre
  • 03-10-20

Wow

Very in-depth biography of Ms. Dietrich. Eye opening and heartbreaking to hear how much her daughter endured. So engrossing it was hard to turn off

5 people found this helpful