Rumor

Marlene Dietrich and Claudette Colbert (Fake News: Fact Checking Hollywood Babylon Episode 15) by Karina Longworth

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The bisexuality of Marlene Dietrich was not exactly a secret in 1930s Hollywood -- in fact, her ambiguous sexuality was part of her on-screen brand. But there is some debate as to who Dietrich counted among her lovers, and which of her fellow stars participated in what has been called the “sewing circle” of female intimacy. Anger alleges that Dietrich had a “passionate affair” with Claudette Colbert, an Oscar-winning actress with an extremely heteronormative persona. We’ll explore what was going on in Dietrich’s life and career around the time when this affair could have taken place, and then delve into Colbert’s image as a very different kind of on-screen sex symbol, and her complicated off-screen personal life.

Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich in Berlin 1928

Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich in Berlin 1928

Marlene Dietrich, Blonde Venus, 1932

Marlene Dietrich, Blonde Venus, 1932

Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable,  It Happened One Night,  1934

Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable, It Happened One Night, 1934

Music:

The music used in this episode, with the exception of the intro and outro, was sourced from royalty-free music libraries and licensed music collections. The intro includes a clip from the film Casablanca. The outro song this week is “Secret Garden” by Madonna.

Excerpts from the following songs were used throughout the episode:

Yellow Leaves 5 - Peter Sandberg
Club Noir 2  - John Allen
City Fashion 3 - Björn Skogsberg
Tomorrow I'll Be Gone - Franz Gordon
The Piano And Me 3 - Peter Sandberg
Some Autumn Waltz 1 - Jonatan Järpehag
In The Lounge 05 - Lars Olvmyr
In The Lounge 02 - Lars Olvmyr
A Playful Mood 2 - Peter Sandberg
Goofy Moments 3 - Magnus Ringblom
Eventually Maybe - Oakwood Station
Secret Garden - Madonna

Director Cecil B. DeMille with Claudette Colbert on the set of  The Sign of the Cross , 1932

Director Cecil B. DeMille with Claudette Colbert on the set of The Sign of the Cross, 1932

Credits:

This episode was written, narrated and produced by Karina Longworth.

Editor: Cameron Drews.

Research and production assistant: Lindsey D. Schoenholtz.

Social media assistant: Brendan Whalen.

Logo design: Teddy Blanks.

Marlene Dietrich and Claudette Colbert, c. 1935

Marlene Dietrich and Claudette Colbert, c. 1935