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Marlene Dietrich on Sex Symbols

"I have never used my body. I have played roles where the legs were used and the body was used but in life, I have never done that." - Marlene Dietrich in 1969

AIRED: November 18, 2016 | 0:05:25

(ambient tones)

(tape rewinding and whirring)

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- [Voiceover] What do you do Miss Dietrich

to keep from succumbing to the adulation

because you had it for a good number of years,

some people almost worship--

- Well I think if you have any sort of intelligence

you can't succumb to adoration

because people adore so many things.

They also adore things that you think quite worthless,

so you can't take it too seriously.

- [Voiceover] There are some actresses who as they age,

they become older,

they still keep trying to be that ingenue.

Do you begrudge these years?

- No, God, no, why should I?

I think irrevocable things you can not begrudge,

if you have any bit of intelligence.

- [Voiceover] You don't begrudge

what you can't do anything about.

- That's right.

America has a youth complex.

In particular with me they adore to make me older

and I don't see why they should do that

because it's bad enough as it is,

but maybe it looks better in print if I'm 102

and I still walk on the stage and I'm not on crutches.

It becomes rather thick but youth cult is quite bad.

You don't have that in Europe at all because I think it is

because America still thinks that it's a young nation.

I don't think it is, it should stop that.

I think they have been young long enough.

They should grow up.

- [Voiceover] It could be said that

you have been a sex symbol,

a Marilyn Monroe sex symbol and so on.

You use it, you have used it in the past for a purpose.

- Well I have never used my body.

I have played roles where the legs were used

and the body was used but in life I have never done that.

- [Voiceover] The exploitations stayed

with the screen and nothing else.

- That is right.

- [Voiceover] You're the kind of person that a lot of men

would like to have loved or felt they have loved.

Do you think the nature of love

is something that's changing?

For example now, the hippie says, "I want love,"

and they say, "love and peace."

- I think the real love has not changed at all.

If people call all sorts of relationships love,

they know themselves it isn't so but they say it

in order to make it valuable, in order to make it allowed.

You know, when a girl says, but I love him,

in order to say that's why I live with him.

That's not necessarily so

because the real love has not changed and the one great love

that will never change is mother love.

- [Voiceover] How do you relax?

- I don't think I do.

You see in our language, in German or in French,

there is no such word as relax.

This is an American invention.

We don't have a feeling like the American has,

now it's 7:00 or something

and I have to have a drink and relax.

It's not a necessity in Europe.

He drinks because he likes to drink.

Success in America means a lot to a man

and it means a lot to his wife and family.

There is a general belief that

success is synonymous with happiness.

Well it doesn't, as you know, they don't go together at all.

The American is striving for success

and works much too hard in order to get,

whatever, a little more money or a raise or something.

He loses out on all the pleasures of life because of that.

In Europe they have a car,

they have it 15 years and they polish it and they wash it

and they love it but here people don't love their cars

because they know next year

they are going to get another one.

And then everything is on credit.

They don't own it and then you buy many more things

than you need because it's on credit

and it doesn't bring them happiness.

It just doesn't.

Possessions do not make you happy.

(piano music)

I only work in the towns I like

and I go back to the countries that I've liked before.

- [Voiceover] Why do you like Houston?

- Well I've always liked Texas

because I met all the Texans in the war, 36th division.

We always adored them

because they were so terribly conceited being Texans.

When they took a little village and set up school,

they told everybody that Texas

was the capital of the United States.

- [Voiceover] What is left that Marlene Dietrich wants to do

that she maybe hasn't done and wants to do more of?

- Nothing, no no, absolutely no new ambition.

- [Voiceover] You want to keep doing what you're doing?

- Yes, do my duty, that's all.

- [Voiceover] Well I hope you keep it up

for a long, long, time.

- Thank you very much, bye bye.

- [Voiceover] Thank you for visiting us.

(piano music)

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