“The contribution she was proudest of was coming to the United States and speaking out against the Nazis,” reminds the esteemed author, who spent time with Dietrich prior to her death in 1992. Dietrich’s WWII period exploits, including dangerous visits to the front lines to entertain troops, could make for a movie in themselves.
Among the morsels of information the star imparted to Chandler at the twilight of her days was that “she had a very brief affair, one night, with John Kennedy. And at the end of it, he asked, ‘Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?’…and asked if she’d had an affair with his father. She’d had a relatively long affair with Joe Kennedy, but she realized the answer that John wanted to hear, so she told him no. And he said, ‘That old fox. I knew he was just boasting.'”
Dietrich, famously reclusive in her final years, asked to be buried near a three star French restaurant so that friends could go and dine before or after visiting her grave, “to make it a religious experience,” Chandler recounts. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.
Chandler, long-time next-door-neighbor and pal of the late Luciano Pavaratti at New York’s vaunted Hampshire House, says that she usually knows someone who knows her book subjects and can put her in touch with them. Past subjects have included Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Federico Fellini and Joan Crawford. Next, she says, she’s writing a biography of Audrey Hepburn.