Saturday, 4 August 2012

Sepia Saturday - Marlene Dietrich

Voor de Nederlandse tekst, zie na de Engelse tekst.
This week I'll skip Sepia Saturday prompt #137 but I'll be back next week! Don't let that stop you from having a look at all those other, more faithful participants. In the meantime...
Sepia Saturday, a Mortensen/Burnett initiative
Also the picture postcard of Marie Magdalena Dietrich, better known under her artists name Marlene Dietrich, is among the many my mother collected before the second world war. Marlene was born in Berlin on December 27, 1901, she passed away in Paris on May 6, 1992. In 1939 she was granted US nationality.
When my mother obtained this card in 1933, Marlene was already famous, among others as a consequence of the part she played in the German movie Der blaue Engel (The blue angel) in 1929. Her interpretation of the song Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt (I am ready for love from head to toe) certainly contributed to her status. During WWII she put the famous German song Lili Marlene on her repertoire. It was also translated in English:
Underneath the lantern,
By the barrack gate
Darling I remember
The way you used to wait
'T was there that you whispered tenderly,
That you loved me,
You'd always be,
My Lilly of the Lamplight,
My own Lilly Marlene

It was appreciated by many soldiers on both sides of the front line. In 1961 Marlene, whose legs were famous as well, made an appearance in the Netherlands. She was invited for the Grand Gala du Disque. When famous Dutch writer Godfried Bomans had to herald her appearance on stage, he exclaimed: "If my wife had only one such leg!"

Back to my mum. This card she obtained from her best friend Ina Weststeijn. It was mailed to her during a vacation in Zierikzee in the southwestern part of the country. The post stamp reads 9 August 1933. Both girls were 15 years old at the time. Ina writes that she went to the movies and had a good time there: she met with 6 boys... Their interest in boys was not in vain, they both got married. And so did Marlene Dietrich, some 10 years earlier. One of her grandsons, John Michael Riva, recently passed away in New Orleans. He was a famous production designer.

Ook de kaart van Marie Magdalena Dietrich, beter bekend als Marlene Dietrich, behoort tot de verzameling van mijn moeder. Ze werd geboren in Berlijn op 27 december 1901 en overleed in Parijs op 6 mei 1992. In 1939 verkreeg ze de Amedrikaanse nationaliteit. Van de nazi's moest ze niets hebben.
Mijn moeder kreeg deze kaart in 1933 toen Marlene al lang een beroemdheid was. Dat kwam o.a. door haar rol in de ook in Nederland populaire film De blauwe engel. Ook haar vertolking van het zwoele lied Ich bin von kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt heeft zeker aan haar faam bijgedragen. Tijdens de 2e wereldoorlog trad zij op voor de geallieerden met o.m. Lili Marlene. Dit van origine Duitse lied (1915) was, naast vele andere talen, ook in het Engels vertaald. Maar de originele tekst, althans het eerste couplet, is als volgt:
Vor der Kaserne
Vor dem großen Tor
Stand eine Laterne
Und steht sie noch davor
So woll'n wir uns da wieder seh'n
Bei der Laterne wollen wir steh'n
Wie einst Lili Marleen. Wie einst Lili Marleen.

Opmerkelijk genoeg was het lied zowel aan geallieerde als aan Duitse kant van het front populair. Marlene, die haar faam mede aan haar benen dankte, is ook een keer in Nederland geweest. Ze was voor het toen roemruchte Grand Gala du Disque uitgenodigd door Willem Duys. Ze zou worden aangekondigd door de immer wat warrige Godfried Bomans, die de zaal vertrouwelijk meedeelde dat hij al gelukkig zou zijn indien zijn vrouw slechts één zo'n been had.

Maar terug naar mijn moeder. Deze kaart werd haar door haar beste vriendin Ina Weststeijn toegestuurd. Het was 9 augustus 1933. De meisjes waren toen 15 jaar oud. Ze schrijft dat ze naar de bioscoop, naar West-End (in de Fahrenheitstraat in Den Haag) was geweest en ze had daar wel 6 jongens gezien... Die interesse bleek niet tevergeefs, de vriendinnen zijn beiden getrouwd. Zo ook Marlene Dietrich, zij het al zo'n 10 jaar eerder. Eén van haar kleinzonen, een bekende filmman, hij was production designer, overleed eerder dit jaar in New Orleans. Zijn naam was John Michael Riva.


  1. Oh to be fifteen and meeting half a dozen boys at the cinema. I hope they didn't marry soon after! Lovely picture of Marlene.

  2. Don't worry, my mum married some nine years later, I don't know about her girlfriend.
    And look at the "spontaneous" way Marlene holds her fingers...

  3. What a beauty. I had to laugh at the leg remark.

  4. Good to hear nothing was lost in translation :)

  5. It looks as though Marlene is sowing off her jewelry.

  6. I don't believe she was the kind of girl to do that...

  7. Wonderful post! I remember everybody liked the famous quote by Godfried Bomans. It was retold over and over again until now.

  8. Interesting post and interesting the way you redid the little sepia Saturday label to better fit your theme. Also interesting to see how things are said in dutch, such as "Typ de twee woorden". I enjoyed visiting you blog.

  9. @Prenter
    And rightly so, the man had an almost British sense of humor.

  10. @Kristin
    I redid the Sepia Saturday label in Word by creating a table (3 columns/1 row) and inserting a scanned image.
    Where did you see the Dutch language you quoted? I've been looking everywhere...
    And thanks for the compliment, please feel free to return.

  11. The words are right below the Bewijs "dat je green robot bent" with the words we have to interpret to have our comments appear.

  12. Gee, I didn't even know that was operational on my blog. Hopefully I can disable that... Thanks for letting me know!

  13. It is nice that you still have something sent to your mother so long ago. I liked the pictorial cancellation on the back too.

  14. A great post. I discovered the world of Ross/Verlag cinema photocards a while ago, and was amazed at the hundreds of actors and actresses, not to mention films, that I did not know. But I've rarely seen them used as postcards and this one is wonderful, all the better for the family connection.

  15. Lovely postcard of Marlene. How special to have something that belonged to your mother when she was just 15.

  16. @Postcardy
    Many a time these cancellations are blurred but not this one. It says "Let The Netherlands be your holiday country". A clear case of pre war marketing :)
    Thanks for visiting my blog.
    @Mike Brubaker
    Most photocards I have are unused but some have been used by people known to me such as this one by my grandfather. Do you know this site? Many Ross Verlag cards there.
    Appreciate your visit, thanks.
    @Queen Bee
    And now it is 79 years later and we still have her!
    Thanks for your interest.

  17. Wonderful post! Loved the pictures, history and the stories.


    Kathy M.

  18. Thank you Kathy, much appreciated!


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