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Marlene Dietrich

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  762 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
Marlene Deitrich was considered one of the most glamorous stars of her day. A determined perfectionist with an incredible ego, her beauty, her style, her sense of the outrageous, made her a star. In this candid, illuminating, and detailed biography full of photographs, her only daughter Maria Riva, tells the incredible, fascinating, story of the star's life and career, lov ...more
Hardcover, 848 pages
Published December 19th 1992 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published 1992)
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The pretension of writing about Marlene Dietrich is annoying. It's a book about Marlene Dietrich's daughter's love for the USA and struggle to be "American". The attitude Riva has toward any aspect of her mother's character, any conflict in her mother's life, any aspect of her career or a relationship-- predictable with almost complete accuracy based on whether it's something that seems "European" (such as lascivious behavior with other women) and Riva justifying her hatred for her mother based ...more
Aug 18, 2009 Dylan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Being a huge movie buff/nerd, this book is a really great, though somewhat exhausting chronicle of La Dietrich's life, told from the point of view of her daughter, Maria Riva. Refreshingly, Maria's not coming from a "Mommie Dearest" kind of place, although neither is she shy about showing the not-so-glam points of her famous, sometimes cold and very German mother. Every film she did is chronicled, and it's so fun to learn about the trivia that went into making each one, especially her relationsh ...more
Jul 04, 2013 Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Truly amazing biography worthy of its reputation. An 800-page examination of the life of a sociopathically narcissistic nymphomaniac from her glamorous forty-year prime through her falling-off-the-stage alcoholism to her final decade (!) spent entirely in bed with a hot plate and a Limoges pitcher to pee in. It's impossible not to feel bad for the daughter who spent her entire life as a servant and punching bag for a glittery, undeniably fabulous monster.
Samantha Glasser
There are great autobiographies or memoirs written by friends of celebrities that consist of personal information and small tidbits that greatly interest readers. Then there are biographies, often more informational and objective than autobiographies. This book is composed of both which makes it one of the best books about a celebrity around.

Maria Riva is the daughter of legend Marlene Dietrich, an androgynous star of the 1930s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. One would believe that a daughter would be the m
C.S. Burrough
Jul 11, 2014 C.S. Burrough rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans
I had to read this account of the woman seen through her daughter's eyes. I knew this was no trashy Mommie Dearest act of vengeance, having pored over mainstream reviews. I found Maria Riva's efforts commendable. Marlene was something else, onscreen and off. Imagine a night on the tiles with her, Berlin, circa 1920-something.

Born in 1901 in Schöneberg, now a district of Berlin, Dietrich studied violin, becoming interested in theatre and poetry as a teenager. Her first job, in 1922, was playing v
Mary Narkiewicz
Jan 30, 2014 Mary Narkiewicz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm reading this biography now.. a bird's eye view of Marlene Dietrich as seen through the eyes of her beloved daughter..

I don't know that I'd like Marlene..who knows.. but I can't put the book down.. She didn't seem to care at all for our animal and bird friends except for having their fur and feathers to decorate her body for her films.. and Maria's dogs kept disappearing..

Still, though this is opposed to everything I believe, I read on because of the amazing revelations about this movie sta
Don LaFountaine
This book described the life of Marlene Dietrich through the eyes of her daughter. It made for some interesting insights into the life and actions of this acclaimed actress. Reading about the unconventional marriage, relationships, and beliefs of this movie star kept me shaking my head. Though I have not seen too many of her films, one gets the impression that she did not make too many good ones. Most of them seemed to be described as fair to poor. Maybe she lasted long because of her beauty, or ...more
Virginia La Dietrich
I'd like to spend few words about this book, because I'm appalled by Maria Riva's will to destroy the myth her mother was, and still is, by telling outrageus stories and secrets she'd better have took with her into the grave, the day she'll die. I'm not saying that Marlene was flawless, but I think the role of a biographer is that to write about a human being, about the good and the bad moments this particular human being had lived and actions made, but always with respect of the dead. There are ...more
Feb 28, 2009 Sherrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the very best Hollywood memoirs - actually quite well written, full of genuine respect but also packed to the brim with often sordid displays of utter selfishness. Dietrich orchestrated every single moment of her life - there's something very...not human about that. Was Dietrich from another planet!? Conspiracy theory.
Hilary West
Sep 13, 2015 Hilary West rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book packed with informative detail by Maria Riva, the star's daughter.
Jonathan Robbins
Oct 17, 2015 Jonathan Robbins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An incredibly detailed and revealing biography is unfortunately tainted by Riva's overarching need for us to hate her mother as much as she does. Well-written, and wonderfully researched, Riva powerfully resurrects her subject while other biographers are merely capable of describing theirs. Yet, every movement and word Dietrich ever made are assigned the worst possible motives, making this book verge into 'Mommie Dearest' territory. Her personal account of her mother's life would have been bette ...more
Jan 26, 2016 Schmolli rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I tried to work myself through that biography, but I could not finish it. My expectation was to get an inside into an icon of the film industry, into a woman who was born in the same city as myself, went through similar experiences as my grandma and created herself to become a diva. We all know the diva, but I was hoping to explore the woman, the human being behind that diva.
Well, this biography is more about the daughter as it is about Marlene Dietrich, which is fine, but the title and the intr
Jan 21, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this biography incredibly insightful in showing us first hand what makes a star. Contrary to what some believe this isn't a damning Mommie Dearest style tell all. It is a balanced account of Dietrich's admirable qualities (Dedication to the war effort, generosity, loyalty to friends) and not so admirable (Narcissistic, selfish, jealous, greedy). The criticism, or doubt, I would have is the way in which Riva describes conversations in detail which took place when she was seven. Hard to be ...more
Patrick Duran
Feb 17, 2016 Patrick Duran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very illuminating but exhaustive account of Dietrich's life told from the perspective of her daughter. My main criticism is that how is one to believe word-for-word conversations that took place as early as age five? Maybe Riva has an amazing ability to reconstruct exact conversations from decades past but I take it for what it's worth: a remembrance of how conversations might have transpired in this intriguing woman's life with exaggeration in details. There are interesting, salacious accounts ...more
Evanston Public  Library
In this razor-sharp biography written by Maria Riva—Marlene Dietrich’s daughter—we are given a circumspect portrait of Dietrich’s multifaceted character. Surprisingly conventional in the domestic realm, Dietrich cooked sauerkraut and potatoes like a Prussian housewife; held a traditional (if not skewed) view of the husband as the “head of the household”; and took a hands-on, no-nonsense approach to practical matters that allowed her, for instance, to ingeniously deliver a stuck calf from its bir ...more
The best parts of this biography ("biography") are actually the descriptions of the clothes. I read it when I was like 13, and I still retain the memory of the clothes. Other standouts:

Dietrich and Mae West being friends (because of course!).
I think at one point Riva tries to paint Garbo as a Dietrich wannabe? No.
For Kismet, Dietrich had her hair pulled back so tightly that her scalp bled.
Dietrich was originally called Madeline or Mary Madeline (but spelled like a German would spell i
Dec 27, 2011 Richard rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: show-business
While this is foremost a biography (and not a very flattering one) of Marlene Dietrich, it's also a memoir of what it's like to be the daughter of an overbearing, vain, and selfish world famous celebrity. The author, Dietrich's daughter, had an interesting life because of her mother's fame, but a very difficult one as well. I see most reviewers here on Goodreads are giving this book a better rating than I am, and I think that's probably because I'm not really the intended audience for a book lik ...more
The great german actress died in 1992 in Paris. I was a great fan of her and I never forget the day I was on the funeral to say goodbye to her. That was in 1992 in Berlin. I was lucky I could hide from the guard as it was not yet for public. Only for close friends and family of course the press.

IT has been a long time when I read this book - it was publishes just a few days after she passed away. This book is written by her daughter Maria Riva I cannot give 5 stars because I do not agree with e
Oct 16, 2014 Selina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably one of the best written classic Hollywood tell-alls. I'm not a fan of Marlene Dietrich, but she led a very interesting life in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Her daughter was very observant about what went on and the price and pitfalls of fame. It's very sad what happened to Marlene later, as she became a victim of the Hollywood machine and her own stardom.
Delia Wynne
Reminiscent of Detour by Cheryl Crane (Lana Turner's daughter) but much more tiring (filled with minutia). It doesn't help that I sympathized much less with this spoiled Hollywood kid who was not abused nor neglected.
Louisa Dell
This book is as exceptional as was Marlene Dietrich. It should be read until the end to understand that it does justice to the star, all her victims and her daughter at the same time. It makes its strength and complexity. An amazing biography of a woman, a myth and those who knew both ... The Blue Angel may have finally find peace...

Ce livre est aussi exceptionnel que l'était Marlene Dietrich. Il faut le lire jusqu'au bout pour comprendre qu'il rend justice à la star, à toutes ses victimes et à
May 04, 2015 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want to know what it is like to have a movie star as a mother or if you want to know the intimate details of Dietrich's life or if you want to know about Hollywood and movie making read this book.
Jul 17, 2014 Yvonne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rather a long tome and in some parts heaving going. But playing "guess the celebrity" was intriguing and I enjoyed hearing from the daughters POV.
Manuela Kohl
May 31, 2014 Manuela Kohl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is a very interesting base with a lot of information which you may get between the lines.
Inke Meier
Schwierige Abrechnung einer Tochter. Stilistisch ehr am Klatschpressenniveau angesiedelt. Kunst kommt von Können, denn käme sie von Wollen würde es Wunst heißen. Dieses Buch wird Malene Dietrich in keinster weise gerecht.
Sep 23, 2010 Georgia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biograhy
I first read this book at age 14 and was totally captivated. 13 years later it is still one of the best biographies I've ever read. It completely captures the spirit of 1930s/40s Hollywood and it's filled with brilliant anecdotes and cameos from Hollywood's greatest stars. At the same time it's incredibly revealing, not always complimentary about it's subject (written by the overlooked daughter, what can you expect?) but as a 14-year-old one thing was very clear to me: Marlene Dietrich was FABUL ...more
Apr 17, 2008 Dani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Freaky-deaky... truly. If I had to choose between Joan Crawford or Marlene Dietrich as a parent... I might just choose Joan! It was fascinating though... even if it did give my nightmares. This was a women who couldn't really sing or act... but became an icon in both worlds. The emotional control she wielded over those around her... and that which she allowed others to wield against her was amazing. ...Lots of great insight to the people and happenings of the Golden Age of Hollywood though.
Mar 01, 2013 Charlie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading Dietrich's autobiography, one is convinced of her near sainthood. This account shatters the illusion of her carefully manufactured image, revealing a highly manipulative and self absorbed, albeit determined and hard working persona. The dish is deep! The amount of detail given to the recollection of production design and costume in this biography is impressive, such as a page long delineation of different kinds of lace used for the numerous veils throughout Dietrich's film career.
Jul 17, 2007 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves juicy Hollywood gossip
Shelves: biography
Truth to tell, I never even saw too many of Marlene Dietrich's movies (I saw Witness for the Prosecution, and Touch of Evil, in which she had a cameo, but that's about it), but this book was a really good time -- full of juicy, bitchy gossip about lots of old Hollywood legends. I don't know how accurate a lot of it is -- Maria Riva has detailed recollections of pedestrian conversations that happened around 60 years previously -- but a lot of the gossip is documented, and man, is it fun to read.
Sep 30, 2009 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Someone has to be interesting for me to read nearly 800 pages about them. In a parallel universe I would have been very content emptying out 88 year old Marlene Dietrich's buckets of pee and spending the afternoon eating sauerkraut heated on a hot plate with her. I even would put lotions on her useless, crippled chicken legs. We would have been very happy together. Plus this book has it all! Nazis! Scrambled eggs! Lady lovers! Man lovers! Song and dance! And radium implants!
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Silver Screen Boo...: APRIL 2015: Marlene Dietrich by Maria Riva 22 34 Jun 07, 2015 08:49PM  
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