In the midst of her stormy affair with Yul Brynner, a heart-weary Marlene Dietrich wrote the following letter to her good friend, the British playwright, Nöel Coward (his impassioned response – full of sound advice for any lovelorn soul) follows:
April 3rd, 1952
Noël, my love,
Finally I can sit down to write. After returning from the coast I rushed into recordings for my radio show to be ahead on tapings so that I can leave again at the end of the month… That means that I cannot take you to the boat. How sad can things get? And it’s all for money, which makes it even sadder. Radio being in its last year as it seems to me, is the last easy source for quick money and I cannot afford to say no. My own show does not bring enough money to keep everything and everybody going.
My gilded cage life goes on quite hopelessly… Anybody else but I would be on an analyst’s couch by now, faded and frustrated, but every time I want to rebel I tell myself that all this [her relationship with Brynner] is of my own choosing and that I can stop it anytime I wish. Why I don’t stop it I don’t know. Maybe I’m too used to get what I want. But then – why shouldn’t I get what I want? If he wouldn’t want me anymore it would be easy, but he seems to want it very badly.
So much of that. The Chicago Personal Appearance was fun. So much easier than films. I found out what it is I have on the stage. Balls! That’s the only explanation I have for the impact of it all… It is spring here so much it hurts. I want it to be last June again and drive in the open car over Washington Bridge and have Frankfurters and drive back at sundown. But instead I look out through my golden bars and sigh like when I was sixteen…
I miss you as you know always in my heart. MARLENE
Firefly Hill Port Maria, Jamaica B.W.I.
Your letter filled me with such a lot of emotions the predominant one being rage that you should allow yourself to be so humiliated and made so unhappy by a situation that really isn’t worthy of you. I loathe to think of you apologizing and begging forgiveness and humbling yourself. I don’t care if you did behave badly for a brief moment, considering all the devotion and loving you have given out during the last five years, you had a perfect right to. The only mistake was not to have behaved a great deal worse a long time ago.
It is difficult for me to wag my finger at you from so very far away, particularly as my heart aches for you but really, darling, you must pack up this nonsensical situation once and for all. It is really beneath your dignity, not your dignity as a famous artist and a glamorous star, but your dignity as a human, only too human being. Curly [the shaven-headed Brynner] is attractive, beguiling, tender and fascinating, but he is not the only man in the world who merits those delightful adjectives?… do please try to work out for yourself a little personal philosophy and DO NOT, repeat DO NOT be so bloody vulnerable. To hell with God damned ‘L’Amour.’ It always causes far more trouble than it is worth. Don’t run after it. Don’t court it. Keep it waiting off stage until you’re good and ready for it and even then treat it with the suspicious disdain that it deserves … I am sick to death of you waiting about in empty houses and apartments with your ears strained for the telephone to ring. Snap out of it, girl! A very brilliant writer once said (Could it have been me?) ‘Life is for the living.’? Well, that is all it is for, and living DOES NOT consist of staring in at other people’s windows and waiting for crumbs to be thrown to you. You’ve carried on this hole in corner, overcharged, romantic, unrealistic nonsense long enough.
Stop it. Stop it. Stop it. Other people need you?… Stop wasting yourself on someone who only really says tender things to you when he’s drunk?…Unpack your sense of humour, and get on with living and ENJOY IT. Incidentally, there is one fairly strong-minded type who will never let you down and who loves you very much indeed. Just try to guess who it is. XXXX.
(Source: The Telegraph)
posted by Dixie Turner