Hollywood Museum exhibits Marlene Dietrich auction items

The Hollywood Museum is hosting an exhibit of rare items from the estate of Marlene Dietrich, seen here in 1935's "Devil Is a Woman," which are also being offered for public sale in an auction.
(UCLA Film & Television Archive)

A 1955 letter to Marlene Dietrich from Ernest Hemingway, which begins with the author referring to the legendary actress as “Dearest Kraut,” one of Dietrich’s blue and black double breasted tuxedos, a late 19th-century Swiss cylinder music box, several of the star’s powder compacts and even a Kermit the Frog watch are among the rare items from Dietrich’s estate being auctioned for the first time.

The Hollywood Museum is exhibiting 250 of these items through April 6. The collection of personal and professional pieces are also available for bid online at

“The Hollywood Museum is in the historic Max Factor building and is the perfect home for this exhibit since it is actually here where the legendary Max Factor originally designed Marlene Dietrich’s glamorous and famous look,” said Donelle Dadigan, president and founder of the museum in a statement.

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In 2012, three of Dietrich’s grandsons-- the late production designer J. Michael Riva, J. David Riva and J. Paul Riva--decided to hold an auction of their grandmother’s collectibles.

“For us, the memory of our grandmother has always been powerful and enduring, and while we have enjoyed having these mementos, we felt it was time to let them go to people that would even appreciate them more,” said David Riva in a statement.

Though many items, including the Hemingway letter, are for the serious collector, Riva said some pieces are “the most utilitarian, simple and affordable. If you want to eat your soft-boiled egg from an egg cup from Marlene’s table, now’s your chance.”

The glamorous German-born actress/singer made an international sensation in 1930 in Josef von Sternberg’s German musical-drama “The Blue Angel” and they continued their collaboration in Hollywood. She became a superstar in the director’s 1930 melodrama “Morocco,” for which she earned her only lead actress Oscar nomination.

Among her numerous classic films are 1932’s “Shanghai Express,” “1939’s “Destry Rides Again” and 1957’s “Witness for the Prosecution.”

Dietrich died in Paris in 1992 at the age of 90.


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