Monday, October 1, 2012
(Belated) Birthday Girls: Diamond Lil and Friends
I realize it's a day late and a Deutsche Mark short, but I've been feeling remiss - having gotten all caught up in Cher-Demi-Sissy excitement (yeah, there's something there's not enough of hereabouts - sissy excitement...) that I didn't note what an extraordinary day for birthdays it was.
Leading them off, above, is that sultry Teutonic stage and screen sensation, Lil Dagover. As this still demonstrates, she was a past mistress of the Fraught Moment, deftly handling the tricky combination of cocktail hat, summer furs, gloves, hankie, and what may either be a bow-shaped clutch or an actual bow - whether or not part of the rest of her costume is unclear. She also deftly handled the Nazis, remaining a popular favorite before, during, and (perhaps most remarkably) after her country's Distinct Unpleasantness.
Dagover was an international favorite of the '20s, and although a brief foray to Hollywood at the dawn of the Talkies failed to make her a second Dietrich there, she retained her Continental allure well into the '60s. When she died in 1980, it was apparently news to all but a surviving childhood friend that she had throughout her career shaved a decade off her age (and was in fact 90, not 80, at her death). At least, when she left Los Angeles, she had a career to return to. When Garbo and Dietrich proved to be about as far as audiences would go in the Exotic Temptress Vein (not least because so many silent favorites proved unsellable in talkies), the likes of Dagmar Godowsky, Isa Miranda, and Olga Baclanova were left with not much to do in a business that suddenly prized perky more than tempestuous.
But back to the day, which has its fair share of both. Other remarkable ladies born as September fades into fall include Silent Casualty Renée Adorée (a victim of drugs, not just a thick accent and a penchant for smoldering, as was Baclanova), eternal lady Deborah Kerr, great dame Angie Dickinson, sixties/seventies thrush Marilyn McCoo, and the lovely and talented Miss Rula Lenska (if you've never caught her in the act, go here now - you'll thank me. She's the brunette.). Holding up the male side of this distinctly camp assemblage: Truman Capote and Marc Bolan, more than a match for perhaps all but Dagover.
Although I'm sure that both were a dab hand with a cocktail hat...