BOSTON—The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum announced today that Marlene Dietrich’s daughter, Maria Riva, has donated to the Kennedy Library 30 letters written by Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) to Marlene Dietrich between 1949 and 1959. The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum is home to the majority of Ernest Hemingway’s papers, including 95 percent of the author's manuscripts and correspondence, donated to the Kennedy Library by Mary Hemingway, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s wife. Several early drafts of Hemingway stories and poems are also included in the donation from Maria Riva. “The Marlene Dietrich collection of correspondence and early drafts of works is a rich addition to the Hemingway Archives,” said Deborah Leff, Director of the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum. “We are grateful to Mrs. Riva for providing us with these rare documents that will further assist Hemingway scholars and historians in interpreting the writer’s life and literature.” Under the terms of the deed, the papers will remain closed for four years and be made public in 2007.
Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992) was discovered in Germany in 1929 by director Josef von Sternberg, who promptly cast her in The Blue Angel, Germany’s first talking film, as the sultry Lola-Lola, a role for which she earned an Academy Award nomination. Dietrich headed to Hollywood with her thick German accent and unique sung-spoken singing style and developed her femme-fatale film persona. At the same time, Hollywood producers were knocking on Ernest Hemingway’s door, eager for the movie rights to his novels and short stories. About his friend Marlene Dietrich, Hemingway said, "If she had nothing more than her voice she could break your heart with it. But she has that beautiful body and the timeless loveliness of her face. It makes no difference how she breaks your heart if she is there to mend it." During World War II, Dietrich refused to work in Germany and made instead more than 500 personal appearances before allied troops. She became a U.S. citizen. After the war, she continued to make successful films and perform in nightclubs. In 1966, she commented on Hemingway’s quote, “Never confuse movement with action,” by saying, “In those five words, he gave me a whole philosophy.” Marlene Dietrich died in Paris in 1992.
"The devoted friendship of Ernest Hemingway and Marlene Dietrich produced some truly wonderful memorabilia,” said Maria Riva. “As custodian of these, my mother's treasure, I was determined that Hemingway's letters and manuscripts should find not only a true American home, but one that would guard them and treat them with the respect they so richly deserve. The Kennedy Library is such a sanctuary."
In addition to the Hemingway-Dietrich correspondence, Mrs. Riva has provided the Kennedy Library with drafts of three Hemingway stories – “Across the River and Into the Trees,” “The Good Lion,” and “The Story of the Faithful Bull” – and two Hemingway poems, “First Poem to Mary in London” and “Poem to Mary.”
Spanning 1949 to 1959, the 30 pieces of correspondence written by Ernest Hemingway to Marlene Dietrich include seven authentically signed letters, 18 typed-signed letters, four telegrams, and a Christmas card. Hemingway wrote to the German-born actress from Cuba; Ketchum, Idaho; Paris, France; Venezia, Italy; Madrid and Malaga, Spain; and Nairobi, Kenya.
The draft of “Across the River and Into the Trees” is a carbon typescript, labeled #3, and is comprised of mixed chapters from a second carbon of an early draft. The manuscript is 234 pages in length and is in ink with pencil corrections. This draft includes deleted passages that do not appear in the published version, making this early un-sanitized draft of “Across the River and Into the Trees” differ significantly from the published version.
The draft of “The Good Lion” is a carbon copy from an early typescript draft. The inscription reads: "For Gherardo Scapinelli, from his friend, Ernesto Hemingway," and is signed in type "Ernest Hemingway 17/1/50, Venezia."
The draft of “The Story of the Faithful Bull” is a four-page, first draft of an original typescript with original manuscript corrections and annotations handwritten by Hemingway.
The poem, “First Poem to Mary in London,” is a three-page typescript carbon. Presented to Marlene Dietrich by Hemingway, it is inscribed: "Marlene from Papa."
The second poem, “Poem to Mary,” is also a typescript carbon and five pages in length.
On Sunday, April 13th, the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum will formally acknowledge receipt of the papers during the annual Hemingway Foundation/PEN New England Awards Ceremony at the Kennedy Library, which is open to the public. Maria Riva will be in attendance at the ceremony along with Patrick Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway’s son, who will present the Hemingway/PEN Award, and Robert Pinsky, former U.S. poet laureate, who will speak. Press interested in covering the annual Hemingway Foundation/PEN New England Awards Ceremony at the Kennedy Library should contact Ann Scanlon at (617) 514-1662 for further information.
The John F. Kennedy Library and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation sponsor the Friends of the Ernest Hemingway Collection, a dynamic, growing literary organization that is dedicated to commemorating the life and work of Ernest Hemingway. The Friends supplement the Kennedy Library's support of the Ernest Hemingway Collection through the purchase and preservation of new materials and by sponsoring a number of events associated with the collection, including the annual award ceremony.
Through the efforts of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the Hemingway Collection was donated to the Kennedy Library in 1968 and the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award ceremony was permanently moved to the Kennedy Library in 1992.
The Kennedy-Hemingway Connection
While Ernest Hemingway and John F. Kennedy never met, President Kennedy admired Hemingway's work. In the opening sentence of his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, Kennedy cited Hemingway's description of courage, writing that, "This is a book about the most admirable of human virtues: courage. 'Grace under pressure,' Ernest Hemingway defined it." President Kennedy invited Hemingway to his 1961 inauguration, but the author declined as he was too ill to travel.
Mary Hemingway saw the Kennedy Library as a fitting place for her late husband’s papers as, in 1961, despite a U.S. ban on travel to Cuba (the result of high tensions between the two countries following the Bay of Pigs incident), President Kennedy made arrangements for her to enter Cuba to claim family documents and belongings. While in Cuba, Mrs. Hemingway met with Fidel Castro who allowed her to take her husband’s papers and the artwork he collected in exchange for the donation of their Finca Vigia home and its remaining belongings to the Cuban people.
A 1968 exchange of letters between Mary Hemingway and Jacqueline Kennedy confirmed that the Hemingway papers would be archived at the Kennedy Library. In 1972, Mrs. Hemingway began depositing papers in the Kennedy Library, and in 1980, Patrick Hemingway, the writer’s son by his second wife Pauline, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis dedicated the Hemingway Room in the Kennedy Library.
The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum is a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and supported, in part, by the Kennedy Library Foundation, a non-profit organization. The Kennedy Library and the Kennedy Library Foundation seek to promote, through educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of American politics, history, and culture, the process of governing and the importance of public service.