LIFESTYLE

"I Was Her 'Product', She Owned Me!": Marlene Dietrich’s Daughter Recollects Her Hard Relationship With Diva Mommy

Date December 18, 2018 15:46

Marlene Dietrich was a master at reinvention. As a German-American and an actress, Marlene maintained her popularity as she was considered exotic and glamorous on the big screen while remaining equally captivating on the stage as a singer.

As a rebel, Marlene was not afraid of anyone, not even Hitler, and during World War II, she became the greatest supporter of American GIs fighting him in the war.

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According to Dietrich, who was also the highest-paid actress of the era, the work she did during the war was the most rewarding she had done in her entire life, a fact that earned her various notable medals. Truly, Marlene Dietrich was a diva and an icon with a powerful influence in both Germany and around the world.

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However, behind the scenes, Dietrich had a troubling personal life that made life tough for her loved ones. To her only child and daughter, Maria Elisabeth Riva, who followed in her footsteps as an actress, her mother was not all that she positioned herself to be.

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"My mother was cold and cruel"

Due to her busy life as an actress and performer, Marlene Dietrich did not spend time with her daughter. She, instead, hired people to take care of her. In her mother’s biography, Maria Riva wrote that while most mothers would refer to their daughters by their names, her mother did not show her maternal affection, referring to her simply as ‘The Child.’

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When she was only 13, Maria’s nanny, who was also a lesbian like her famously bisexual mother, sexually assaulted her. According to Maria (89), her mother did nothing about it. For instance, when she confronted her about the unfortunate event later, Dietrich told her:

Well, you’re over it now, aren’t you? You’re not dead. Deal with it.

Maria’s son, David Riva, echoes his mother’s perception of his granny. He also noted that she was not conventional, describing her as “cold and emotionally detached” from everyone around her.

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To Maria, instead of showing her love as any mother should, Dietrich treated her like property.

I was her 'product', and she never wanted me from her side… I was her creation, she owned me, and so she spoke to me as if she were speaking out loud to herself.

To Maria, her mother’s dedication to her image as a star consumed her completely, as she prioritized her work over anything else, which was a tragic outcome. Nevertheless, for Maria, despite their tough mother-daughter relationship, her mommy still taught her a lot and she is grateful that she learnedwhat not to be” as a woman and a mother.

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READ ALSO: Marlene Dietrich's Grandson Opens Up About Her Private Life, Affairs, And Last Years

Dietrich left a great legacy

Despite her personal flaws, Marlene Dietrich still left a great legacy. For many women around the world, she was a role model and an icon.

Last year, celebrating what would have been Dietrich’s 116th birthday, Google changed their logo in 24 countries to a doodle in honor of the 9th greatest female star of classic Hollywood cinema.

"I Was Her 'Product', She Owned Me!": Marlene Dietrich’s Daughter Recollects Her Hard Relationship With Diva Mommy"I Was Her 'Product', She Owned Me!": Marlene Dietrich’s Daughter Recollects Her Hard Relationship With Diva Mommy"I Was Her 'Product', She Owned Me!": Marlene Dietrich’s Daughter Recollects Her Hard Relationship With Diva Mommy"I Was Her 'Product', She Owned Me!": Marlene Dietrich’s Daughter Recollects Her Hard Relationship With Diva Mommy"I Was Her 'Product', She Owned Me!": Marlene Dietrich’s Daughter Recollects Her Hard Relationship With Diva Mommy"I Was Her 'Product', She Owned Me!": Marlene Dietrich’s Daughter Recollects Her Hard Relationship With Diva Mommygettyimages

More than two decades after she passed away, it is no secret that Dietrich’s impact on women continues to live on as her impressive career, captivating personality, and great fashion sense are still considered legendary. 

Which film, role, or song by Marlene Dietrich captivated you the most? Share in the comments below. 

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