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Marlene: 1952

March 1952. "Marlene Dietrich makes her stage debut in Chicago." Color transparency by Phillip Harrington for Look magazine. View full size.

March 1952. "Marlene Dietrich makes her stage debut in Chicago." Color transparency by Phillip Harrington for Look magazine. View full size.

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Wrong terminology.

I think the magazine publisher in an earlier comment used the wrong terminology. Ben-Day dots differ from halftone dots in that the Ben-Day dots are always of equal size and distribution in a specific area. To apply the dots to a drawing an artist would purchase transparent overlay sheets. Photographs and artwork are converted to halftone dots for reproduction, whether it be for letterpress or offset production. Yes, sometimes they will tend to lose detail especially when using a coarser line screen. I've been a graphic designer for over 40 years.

The seat of glamour

She appears to be sitting on a vinyl-and-chrome chair from a dinette set.

Absolutely Fabulous

As Edina in the UK sit-com AbFab says "My entire body hangs off these cheekbones!"

The Sharp Eye of Shorpy

Having been a publisher of magazines for 25 years, I agree tterrace is right that printing would smooth this out a great deal, with all those Ben Day dots.

I hadn't noticed until just now taking a second look at this Shorpy-Sharp photo that Dietrich employed the same makeup tactic as Lucille Ball (and others) -- painting in lips far larger than nature provided, with the upper lip drawn well above the natural line. I imagine one would rarely see a photo of either Dietrich or Ball without that artifice. I've found only one photo of Ball with the natural lip line and she was truly not recognizeable as the icon we all know.

My aunt worked in pictures in the 50s and said no one would recognize Betty Grable without her makeup, but said Marilyn Monroe was naturally beautiful without hers.

This picture makes me realize why Dietrich liked Von Sternberg's "butterfly lighting" and reckon that black and white was something of a blessing for her (though Dietrich in her first Technicolor, "The Garden of Allah", was spectacular).

Before the touch-up

Looks like a photographer's proof before the touch ups are done.

[It's not a "proof" because this is a scan of the camera original. The magazine's color printing process alone would smooth everything out a good deal. -tterrace]

But under all that Max Factor, a fine soul

I watched a DVR'd documentary from Turner Classic Movies just last night called "Cinema's Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood" (2009), about the huge number of film-making refugees from Germany just prior to WWII, in which she featured prominently. Most of the points made about her in that film are made in the Wiki biography about her. As an old fan, I already knew most of anyway, and while I admit that the heavy makeup is the first thing I noticed in this photo of her at age 51, my immediate next thought was that her inner beauty of strength of character and humane ethics needed no makeup or embellishment. She was right among the first to open her home to refugees and get them into jobs and homes of their own, and was right at the top in sales of war bonds and among the most hardworking entertaining the Allied troops around the world. The vanity of a bit of makeup and later a bit of plastic surgery seem trivial amid such a life lived in anything but vain. Living gracefully is more rare and important than the superficiality of "aging gracefully".

I confess stereo wars with my sister during high school involved me listening to Dietrich in my room and my sister listening to Led Zeppelin in hers.

Before plastic surgery

Tons of pancake makeup.

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