HOLLYWOOD – Although her name suggested otherwise, Marlene Dietrich never enjoyed a particularly rich diet.
She’d have a bowl of cereal for breakfast, maybe a sandwich for lunch and quite often poached eggs for her supper. Burt Lancaster once offered her scrambled eggs but she politely declined, saying she preferred to stick with what she knew.
An invitation to dinner at Marlene’s never really filled one with excitement, but she was always immaculately turned out in her best tuxedo. Noel Coward used to smuggle in a packet of peanuts which we’d share between us while no-one was looking, then he’d take to the piano and Marlene would do some of the old songs again.
‘Edvin,’ she’d say to me ‘vot vould you like to sing for you?’
I’d always ask for We Wish You A Merry Christmas and poor old Noel would bang away at the keys barely able to contain his giggles.
She had the last laugh when I got food poisoning from a slightly under poached egg, but you couldn’t help but love Marlene. One night she kindly offered to have my name tattooed on her left thigh, but as the right one already said ‘property of Warner Bros’ I thought it to best to decline.
In those days you crossed the studio at your peril, and I’d already blotted my copy book with the Mickey Rooney incident. In the end the kidnappers were paid the ransom, and he was returned safe and sound. I wasn’t as lucky with Glenn Miller, but that’s another story…
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