Dec 15, 2023 10:00 EST

Stage & Screen

 
  Lot 5065
 

5065

Performance notes, signed photographs, and letters from Marlene Dietrich

DIETRICH, MARLENE
A large archive of letters, notes, photographs and ephemera sent from Marlene Dietrich to her choreographer Sonia Shaw Hitchcock.
Various places: circa 1959-1985. About 25 items signed by Marlene Dietrich, including autograph letters, a few typed, signed notes, etc., many with hand-written envelopes bearing signatures. Also present are one inscribed and two signed photographs of Dietrich and about 15 photographs depicting Dietrich in performance, in social settings, etc., including a few picturing Sonia Shaw Hitchcock. Ephemera includes telegrams, playbills, clippings, etc. Some wear, minor staining, handling creases or tears, etc.

Provenance: sold Galerie Bassenge, Berlin, 14 October 2016, lot 2431

Marlene Dietrich's first letter to choreographer Sonia Shaw Hitchcock is written on the stationery of the Sahara Hotel, Las Vegas and the legendary film star and cabaret singer writes "I have been looking for something right for you.." The envelope for this letter is labeled by "Sonya" by Dietrich and, indicating this wasn't an easy relationship, Sonia Shaw Hitchcock has written "even my name is spelled wrong ... this is when it all started." the letters that follow are of some length, one as long as ten pages each in Dietrich's flowing, largely legible hand, offering suggestions for the choreographer to implement on dances and costumes, such as "after I have sung the song the girls should come out in silk tights and long black turtleneck sweaters, pony-tails if possible..." She also reacts to trends: "I just talked to June in Vegas. The Twist is done everywhere in the lounges at the Tropicana ... I guess that kills it for us." In one letter written from Europe at 4 am, Dietrich informs Shaw Hitchcock of her exhaustive travel schedule and to write her under the name "Mrs. Sieber... So that no one knows I am there." Back in Las Vegas, Dietrich writes "I now have had time to get a distant look at the finale and I do not think it is good enough for Paris..." There is much talk about the dancer's legs in these letters and this same letter continues "we must find something not cute, not corny, not 'selling the legs, not milking the legs, not fanfaring them. The more we do the less they will applaud. I see it every night. I get no applause at all for the legs..."

A notable inclusion in the group is a six-page detailed instruction list for the costume changes down to the buttoning of pants, the zipping of dresses, and the hooking of necklaces. As the years pass, Dietrich reports on health issues, taxes and politics, including a letter written from France in 1970 with extensive comments about the war in Vietnam: "The image of the United States has fallen apart all over Europe and it is a fact that Americans don't realize fully that there are other people alive but Americans. We are all shaking what Nixon will do next." There is plenty more from the quotable Dietrich but the correspondence comes to a close in the 1980s. Towards the end, Dietrich writes "I am not a recluse! I have finished writing the bloody book and naturally did not go galavanting into the street. Don't believe what you read in the papers!"


 

DIETRICH, MARLENE
A large archive of letters, notes, photographs and ephemera sent from Marlene Dietrich to her choreographer Sonia Shaw Hitchcock.
Various places: circa 1959-1985. About 25 items signed by Marlene Dietrich, including autograph letters, a few typed, signed notes, etc., many with hand-written envelopes bearing signatures. Also present are one inscribed and two signed photographs of Dietrich and about 15 photographs depicting Dietrich in performance, in social settings, etc., including a few picturing Sonia Shaw Hitchcock. Ephemera includes telegrams, playbills, clippings, etc. Some wear, minor staining, handling creases or tears, etc.

Provenance: sold Galerie Bassenge, Berlin, 14 October 2016, lot 2431

Marlene Dietrich's first letter to choreographer Sonia Shaw Hitchcock is written on the stationery of the Sahara Hotel, Las Vegas and the legendary film star and cabaret singer writes "I have been looking for something right for you.." The envelope for this letter is labeled by "Sonya" by Dietrich and, indicating this wasn't an easy relationship, Sonia Shaw Hitchcock has written "even my name is spelled wrong ... this is when it all started." the letters that follow are of some length, one as long as ten pages each in Dietrich's flowing, largely legible hand, offering suggestions for the choreographer to implement on dances and costumes, such as "after I have sung the song the girls should come out in silk tights and long black turtleneck sweaters, pony-tails if possible..." She also reacts to trends: "I just talked to June in Vegas. The Twist is done everywhere in the lounges at the Tropicana ... I guess that kills it for us." In one letter written from Europe at 4 am, Dietrich informs Shaw Hitchcock of her exhaustive travel schedule and to write her under the name "Mrs. Sieber... So that no one knows I am there." Back in Las Vegas, Dietrich writes "I now have had time to get a distant look at the finale and I do not think it is good enough for Paris..." There is much talk about the dancer's legs in these letters and this same letter continues "we must find something not cute, not corny, not 'selling the legs, not milking the legs, not fanfaring them. The more we do the less they will applaud. I see it every night. I get no applause at all for the legs..."

A notable inclusion in the group is a six-page detailed instruction list for the costume changes down to the buttoning of pants, the zipping of dresses, and the hooking of necklaces. As the years pass, Dietrich reports on health issues, taxes and politics, including a letter written from France in 1970 with extensive comments about the war in Vietnam: "The image of the United States has fallen apart all over Europe and it is a fact that Americans don't realize fully that there are other people alive but Americans. We are all shaking what Nixon will do next." There is plenty more from the quotable Dietrich but the correspondence comes to a close in the 1980s. Towards the end, Dietrich writes "I am not a recluse! I have finished writing the bloody book and naturally did not go galavanting into the street. Don't believe what you read in the papers!"

Auction: Stage & Screen, Dec 15, 2023

  • Third Annual Stage & Screen Auction on December 15, 2023 Surpasses Expectations!
  • Art, Memorabilia, Autographs & Photographs of the Theater, Hollywood, Music and Dance
  • Held in Collaboration with the Entertainment Community Fund


NEW YORK, NY -- Doyle's third annual Stage & Screen auction on December 15, 2023 attracted determined competition from collectors and fans around the world resulting in a sale total that surpassed expectations! Held in collaboration with the Entertainment Community Fund, the auction offered artwork, memorabilia, props, autographs and photographs from the vast history of the performing arts: Theater, Hollywood, Music and Dance.

Recognizing the importance of the performing arts to the fabric of New York, and the terrible toll the pandemic and recent strikes have taken on the entertainment community, Doyle is proud to donate 10% of our profit from this auction to the Entertainment Community Fund.

Highlighting the sale was an important 1969 letter and drawing from rock legend Freddie Mercury to Ibex bandmate Mick "Miffer" Smith that soared past its $12,000-18,000 estimate to achieve $50,400. Penned a year before forming Queen, Mercury discusses seeing Led Zeppelin, his sexuality, his songwriting, and his early bands’, Ibex and Wreckage, upcoming performances. The letter is a tour-de-force of descriptive thought and shows his growing passion for writing music.


The Entertainment Community Fund (formerly The Actors Fund)

A special section of the auction comprising lots 5001 - 5019 featured celebrity memorabilia presented by the Entertainment Community Fund. While a portion of proceeds from every item in the auction benefited the Fund, 100% of the hammer price of the lots in this section goes entirely to the Entertainment Community Fund.

A highlight of this section was the stunning pink double-breasted velvet tuxedo jacket worn by Daniel Craig to the world premiere of No Time To Die at London's Royal Albert Hall on September 28, 2021. With competition from both sides of the Atlantic, the tuxedo jacket sold for $10,710, more than doubling its $3,000-5,000 estimate.

Founded in 1882, the Entertainment Community Fund (formerly The Actors Fund) is a national 501(c)(3) charitable organization for performing arts and entertainment professionals. The Fund helps address the specific needs of those in the industry, with a unique understanding of the challenges involved in a life in the arts. Read More ►


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Consignments are currently being accepted for future auctions. We invite you to contact us for a free auction estimate.

For information, please contact Peter Costanzo at 212-427-4141, ext 248, or email Peter.Costanzo@Doyle.com

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