Marlene Dietrich letters to Swedish costume designer sold in German auction

By Mary Lane, AP
Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Marlene Dietrich letters sold at auction

BERLIN — A collection of 130 letters and short notes written by the late German actress Marlene Dietrich sold Wednesday for euro3,000 ($4,200), an auction house said.

The Berlin-born film legend’s husky voice and smoldering eyes seduced audiences for more than four decades in German movies such as “The Blue Angel” and many American films, including “Destry Rides Again” with Jimmy Stewart and “The Spoilers” with John Wayne.

After leaving Germany in the 1930s, Dietrich defied Adolf Hitler’s call to return home during World War II. She became a U.S. citizen and performed for American troops, living abroad in California and Paris until her death in 1992, at the age of 90.

The letters were written to Swedish costume designer Max Goldstein in Dietrich’s large, spiderlike handwriting and span over four decades. Goldstein, was born in Berlin in 1925 and died in 2008 in Paris.

“These letters show an intimate and close friendship over a long period of time, through a business and private exchange between these two friends,” Christina Deserno, spokeswoman for Berlin’s J.A. Stargardt auction house, told The Associated Press.

The collection was sold to a private telephone bidder, and Deserno would not give any details about the purchaser’s nationality or his or her plans for the items.

While the correspondence began with more formal letters regarding costuming, they soon display Dietrich’s affection for Goldstein, whom she called “Mago.”

An October 1966 note from Paris offers Goldstein advice and consolation regarding a liver infection, while other letters playfully chide Mago for complaining that he was always too busy: “Mago — I cannot imagine that you never have time… Swedish manufacturing cannot be so colossal, that all the costume designers are so much more busy than all the other workers in the world!”

Dietrich also writes snippets about travel, film production, and miscellaneous favors she asked of Goldstein.

One letter dated November 1969 discloses part of Dietrich’s perspective on stardom: “Either one is a world star or not. … I feel uneasy in my own skin. Spiritually, of course.”

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