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Marlene: Marlene Dietrich, A Personal Biography Hardcover – March 29, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"It hardly seems possible that there could be room for yet another important biography on so iconic a star as Marlene Dietrich. . . . Yet Charlotte Chandler's Marlene: Marlene Dietrich, A Personal Biography proves invaluable. . . . Chandler has again demonstrated her unparalleled ability to get major figures of Hollywood's golden age to talk about their lives with unprecedented openness."
—Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

About the Author

Charlotte Chandler is the author of several biographies of actors and directors, including Groucho Marx, Federico Fellini, Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock, Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman, Joan Crawford, and Mae West, all of whom she interviewed extensively. She is a member of the board of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and lives in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439188351
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439188354
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,109,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By CarNut on April 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Quotes that are doubtful, facts that are all personal memory (and proved wrong, many of them, long ago) - repeated again and again - the book was a scrap book of words that shed, in the end, no new light on the wonderful Marlene and, in fact, allowed silly nonsense to supplant fact. The truth is much better than this book. The word on the Internet is that the so-called interviews with Marlene never happened and that the author made them all up from other people's material.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Aunt Charlotte on March 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
When even David Bret pans your book, you know you are pretty far down on the food chain. But--I never thought I would say this!--I agree with Mr. Bret. Charlotte Chandler has never interviewed any of her subjects--I doubt she has seen most of their films. Yet S&S prints book after book by her, not bothered in the least by the fact that they are 100% baloney. Naive writers will be using these books as factual sources in years to come . . . The saints weep.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Book Lover on May 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I heard about a biography of Marlene Dietrich, I was thrilled and ready to be immersed in her life and times...and the Golden Age of Hollywood. What a disappointment! The book is essentially a compendium of little stories which Dietrich supposedly relates to the author Charlotte Chandler. They're disorganized, confusing, a messy bore! Shame on Ms. Chandler--a wonderful, larger-than-life, feisty, legendary actress like Dietrich deserves a serious, properly written and researched biography or...nothing at all. This book is a waste of money and time.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joseph A. on May 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I could approach Charlotte Chandler's work, Marlene: Marlene Dietrich, A Personal Biography, from several perspectives. Obviously, I could compare it to the existing body of work devoted to Dietrich and determine whether it tells us anything new or--at least--in a new way. Why bother? No one will ever trump Maria Riva's insider anecdotes and side-splitting dialogues. Aside from that, reviews are like celebrity biographies, and how could I attempt to critique Chandler's work as a reiteration of others' biographies when--as I write this text--I realize that much of what I'm typing has probably been noted by Joseph McBride in San Francisco Chronicle. In case you are wondering, Chandler does discuss the usual subjects and suspects: Dietrich's breasts ravaged by baby Maria's hungry infant mouth, Dietrich's affairs with a few Kennedy clansmen, Dietrich's show that broke Israel's ban on German-language performances, Dietrich opposition of Nazis that included her plot to assassinate Hitler (which is documented at the FBI website's "vault"), Dietrich's other plot to prevent King Edward VIII from abdicating by wrecking his relationships with Wallis Simpson, Dietrich's directorial expertise with the help of a full-length mirror, Dietrich's skill on the violin and the musical saw, Dietrich's seclusion in her Paris apartment where she made constant phone calls yet answered her phone as her maid, and so on.

Aside from contextualizing this work within the published biographical canon, I could evaluate its sources, apparently a star-studded chorus of accounts from Dietrich herself, Mae West, Leni Riefenstahl, Joan Crawford, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Tennessee Williams, Edward Kennedy, Fritz Lang, Isabella Rossellini, and Burt Bacharach. Even Dietrich's documentarian and filmmaker grandson, (J.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By G.I Gurdjieff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The more I read Charlotte Chandler's so-called celebrity biographies, the more agravated I get. Her latest 'friend' Marlene Dietrich may be rolling in her grave right now after this one. I am scratching my head wondering why Chandler thought she had some peculiar insight into the life and career of Dietrich.
Here is the straight stuff on this bio. Chandler recounts an interview she conducted with M.D. in her Paris apartment in the '70's. Chandler provides her reader with a semi-coherent monologue during which Dietrich recalled her growing-up years in Berlin, her only marriage, her unconventional relationship with her husband Rudi and his long-time mistress Tami, her numerous affairs, her career, and her reflections on growing old and losing her looks. Interspersed with this are interviews Chandler conducted with M.D.'s contemporaries, friends, and family, and reviews of the movies she appeared in. Everything is assembled in chronological order to give this account some sense of continuity and cohesion. The reality is that nothing can be extracted from this book that isn't already part of the Dietrich legend that has been public knowledge for decades. This book really compresses Dietrich's life story to the bare minimum while hanging on to the more salacious and gossipy aspects of M.D.'s life. I suppose the purpose of all this gossipy junk is to titillate the unfortunate readers of this book, but the end result was boring and all too repetitive.
If the chapter on Marlene Dietrich is to be closed, there are far better biographies and memoirs on the lady. Her daughter Maria Riva wrote one a few years ago that was very good. My advice is to avoid this trainwreck. Based upon the other books I've read by Chandler, I question the personal aspect of this book and wonder if she actually ever interviewed Dietrich directly.
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