As difficult as it is to believe that it’s been 50 years since her tragic death, it’s even more difficult to believe that were she still with us today, Marilyn Monroe would be 86 years old.
Frequently copied, but never equaled, Marilyn’s Look was an alluring synthesis of hyperfemininity (Marilyn) and fragility (Norma Jean).
Her most enduring love affair was with the camera, and it loved her back in a way that no man ever could.
Beyond the voluptuous body and the platinum hair, it was that fabulous face that really made Marilyn……..well, Marilyn. The make-up and application techniques to create that amazing face evolved over time and, eventually, took more than three hours to complete from the initial coat of Vaseline petroleum jelly, to give her face that dewy glow, to the final coat-after-coat of red lipstick followed by Whitey’s and Marilyn’s secret formula lip gloss ---- it remains a secret.
For a wonderful insight on how to recreate the Marilyn Look, make-up artist to the stars, Lisa Eldridge, gives a fascinating tutorial that lasts about 10 minutes (not three hours) and is worth every minute.
“The Blue Angel,” a 1930 German film, would bring Marlene Dietrich to the attention of Hollywood and the world.
She became one of Hollywood’s most glamorous and enduring movie stars.
Despite the usual highs (box office dynamite) and lows (box office poison), her career spanned more than 50 years.
Born without Marilyn’s natural beauty, but with the same cunning camera instincts, she became an expert on angles, lighting and how to apply make-up to create the shadows and illusions that would become the Dietrich Look.
Famous for her shapely legs, she showed them to great effect when sexy Marlene was called for. And then there was that deep, sultry voice with a heavy dash of accent.
In contrast to the sweetness and fragility of Marilyn’s sex appeal, Marlene’s was edgy and tough.
This was a gal who could clearly get you into trouble; but she was also the gal you wanted in your corner when trouble started.
But when it came to the way she dressed, Dietrich had a very simple philosophy: "I dress for myself; not for the image, not for the public, not for the fashion, not for men."
It is my favorite Dietrich Look. Only Fred Astaire ever brought so much panache to a top hat and tails.
She was awarded the American Medal of Freedom, reportedly her most cherished award, and the French Legion of Honor.
In the 1950s Dietrich headlined her own cabaret show and took it all over the world.
After a nasty fall on stage, she gave her last live performance in 1974 at the age of 72.
After that, she made a brief guest appearance in a movie and was the subject of a wonderful documentary by the actor Maximilian Schell, which she agreed to do only on condition that she not be photographed.
At 83, no camera angle, lighting or artfully applied make-up could recreate the Dietrich Look, and she knew it.
Schell complied with her wishes and used only that wonderful voice, which alone can stir up images of the Blue Angel.
She spent her final years in seclusion in her apartment on the Avenue Montaigne in Paris.
Sometime during the night of May 6th to 7th of 1992, Maria Magdalena Dietrich von Losch, a/k/a Marlene Dietrich, died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 90.