London - Marlene Dietrich had a three-year affair with John Wayne that broke up his marriage and was investigated by the FBI, a new book claims.
They met when Dietrich saw Wayne in a restaurant, “looked him up and down as though he were a prime rib”, and told Hollywood director Tay Garnett: “Daddy, buy me that!”
Dietrich, who was already a huge star, went on to make the 1940 film Seven Sinners with Wayne, the first of their three together.
Mr Garnett recalled: “If you didn’t know what was gonna happen, you’d be as blind as a pit pony. Their relationship got off like a fireworks display.” The affair was a connection that lasted three years and affected them both deeply, claims author Scott Eyman.
Wayne, 32, was married to his first wife, Josephine Saenz, and Miss Dietrich, 38, was with husband Rudolf Sieber, but they made no attempt to hide their relationship.
When they met in 1939, Wayne also seemed unconcerned that his new love spent much of her time with a close lesbian friend.
In John Wayne: The Life And Legend, Mr Eyman claims Miss Dietrich seduced Wayne in her dressing room. When he asked for the time, she “lifted her skirt to reveal a garter with a watch attached. She looked at the watch, then moved toward Wayne, saying, ‘It’s very early, darling. We have plenty of time’.” When Wayne arrived on set, she would leap into his arms and wrap her legs around him. She bought champagne for everyone and played the musical saw between takes.
Wayne later remembered: “She was great, just a German hausfrau. She used to cook pressurised beef to make beef bouillon for everybody. It may have been an act, but it brought her a great deal of enjoyment.”
In the Second World War, German-born Dietrich’s sex life was monitored by the FBI to find out if she was a Nazi sympathiser. Instead, they learned she was sleeping with Wayne – as well as French actor Jean Gabin, German author Erich Maria Remarque, who wrote All Quiet on the Western Front, and actress Kay Francis.
Dietrich was a staunch opponent of Hitler, risking her life to perform for frontline troops in Europe. Wayne, who didn’t serve in the military, was besotted. He told a friend a night with her in Rome’s Excelsior Hotel was the best sexual experience of his life.
The affair infuriated his wife, and she asked her priest to counsel him. Mr Eyman writes: “Dietrich was very near the last straw.”
The actor said he would end it if Josephine stopped mentioning Marlene, but she could not. “That’s when I knew the marriage was over,” Wayne is quoted as saying. - Daily Mail