Episode 24 comes fresh from Berlin, where our writer and translation friend Isabel Cole tells us about glamorous Hollywood star-slash-inventor Hedy Lamarr. Recorded live at ACUD, and produced and presented by Susan Stone in June 2019.
If you’d like to read her ghostwritten autobiography Ecstasy and Me, you can buy it online. For more online fun, how about the less-racy-than-you-might-expect movie Ecstasy? Especially good for horse enthusiasts.
Our new season is built around outstanding Berlin writers, who will share stories of awe-inspiring women who’ve fascinated them and influenced their work. We’re ready and waiting for you with show number 22… So please join us on Tuesday June 18th to learn about three women who did surprising things: an actor-cum-inventor, a writer not nearly as ladylike as her reputation, and a revolutionary and influential Marxist feminist. Presented by award-winning American writer and translator ISABEL COLE, prize-dripping German novelist CHRISTIANE NEUDECKER, and your beloved co-host KATY DERBYSHIRE. All held together at the seams by your other beloved co-host, FLORIAN DUIJSENS. Come on up to the ACUD Studio for an evening of entertainment, inspiration, and fabulous females.
As aways, presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Once again generously supported by the Berliner Senat. Doors open 7:30 – come on time to get a good seat and a good drink!
HEDY LAMARR had six marriages, six divorces, and three children, and acted in thirty movies in Vienna, Berlin, Czechoslovakia, Hollywood, and Italy. Touted by Louis B. Mayer as “the world’s most beautiful woman”, she was often typecast as a glamourous exotic vixen and played her fair share of implausible “natives”. Having been raised as a Catholic and only child by Jewish parents in Vienna, she later helped her mother escape the Nazis and brought her to the US. Bored by her unchallenging acting roles, she staved off loneliness by working on inventing projects. Her most successful – eventually – was a frequency-hopping signal for radio-controlled torpedoes, so that they that could not be tracked or jammed. The US Navy did not implement it during WWII, but it was used from 1962 on and is now part of Bluetooth technology. Lamarr has a star on Hollywood Boulevard and a number of inventor’s awards.
DAPHNE DU MAURIER rebelled against her actor parents by becoming a novelist, but to make up for it she also wrote plays. Her most famous novel is the chilling Rebecca, which has never been out of print since 1938. She also wrote historical fiction, satire, and biographies – but was often dismissed as a “romantic novelist”. Those idiots clearly never read her terrifying short stories, several of which were adapted for the screen, including “The Birds”. Du Maurier married an aristocratic military man and had three children, leading a quiet life in Cornwall. Some believe she had secret lesbian affairs, and her plays certainly suggest she had interesting thoughts about interpersonal relations. A rediscovered story from her younger days, “The Doll”, focuses on a woman’s obsession with a mechanical sex toy. Intriguing? Oh yes.
ALEXANDRA KOLLONTAI was a Marxist revolutionary who became one of the first female diplomats, representing the Soviet Union in Norway and elsewhere from 1922. After the revolution, she founded the “Women’s Department” to improve women’s lives in the new state. Kollontai wrote about marriage and traditional families as oppressive and about sexuality as a natural human instinct, and she lived by these values for many years. She left her first husband to study economics in Switzerland, and later took various lovers, mostly younger. A vocal internal critic of the Communist Party, her diplomatic postings were effectively a form of exile to prevent her meddling in politics. When Stalin’s purges began, she lost many of her friends and former lovers, but her son and nephew survived. She was the only leading Bolshevik from revolutionary times to die a natural death, aside of course from Stalin.
Episode 23 is our first from New York City! It showcases two incredible black women who made major achievements in their fields. First off, journalist Amy Padnani tells us about the nurse, wartime inventor, and handwriting analyst Bessie Blount, followed by researcher Deborah Streahle on the radical feminist lawyer Florynce “Flo” Kennedy. Recorded live at KGB’s Red Room, and produced and presented by Susan Stone in May 2019.
Episode 22 features our beloved co-host Florian Duijsens giving us the low-down on the multi-talented entertainer Josephine Baker. Recorded live at ACUD, and produced and presented by Susan Stone in April 2019.
Speaking at the March on Washington in 1963: “I have walked into the palaces of kings and queens and into the houses of presidents. And much more. But I could not walk into a hotel in America and get a cup of coffee, and that made me mad. And when I get mad, you know that I open my big mouth. And then look out, ’cause when Josephine opens her mouth, they hear it all over the world…”
For more gorgeous pics, check out this fancy spread in UK Vogue.
We are so very excited to invite you to our 21st show! We’re old enough to drive a heavy goods vehicle! So get ready for a juggernaut of an event. ACHTUNG: IT’S A MITTWOCH, BABY!
On Wednesday 10 April, 8pm, We’ll be kicking off our new season, built around outstanding Berlin writers who will share stories of awe-inspiring women who’ve fascinated them and influenced their work. Join us to learn about a groundbreaking children’s writer, an actor and screenwriter who helped save lives, and an adventurous journalist and novelist (more on all three below). Presented by top German writer Daniela Dröscher, shooting star Amanda DeMarco, and your beloved co-host Florian Duijsens. All held together at the seams by your other beloved co-host, Katy Derbyshire. Come on up to the ACUD Studio for an evening of entertainment, inspiration, and fabulous females.
As always, presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Once again generously supported by the Berliner Senat. The ACUD Studio doors open 7:30pm – come on time to get a good seat and a good drink!
CHRISTINE NÖSTLINGER grew from a “wild and angry child” in a socialist household in wartime Vienna into a multiple-award-winning writer best known for her children’s books. Her first was written at the kitchen table as a housewife and published in 1970, but she graduated to three different desks for her radio, newspaper, and book jobs. Nöstlinger’s stories were far removed from the “pedagogical pills” of the past. Parents are fallible, children are disobedient but not bad people, and her language is both funny and shocking. She was not afraid to admit that she found some children very unpleasant, but she wrote with great empathy, wisdom, and humanitarianism.
SALKA VIERTEL was another Austrian, in this case originally an actor. She worked in Berlin, Vienna, Hamburg, and Düsseldorf, and raised three sons. Feeling “neither pretty nor young enough” to move from the stage to the screen after she and her husband moved to the States, she switched to writing Hollywood scripts, especially for her friend Greta Garbo. Her credits include Hollywood versions of The Painted Veil and Anna Karenina. Having helped fellow Jewish artists to escape the Nazis with emergency visas, she was put out of work by McCarthy-era suspicion and ended up moving to Switzerland.
EMILY HAHN was the first woman to graduate in mining engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As if that weren’t cool enough, she then drove across the U.S.A. dressed as a man, before working for the Red Cross in Belgian Congo. Hahn spent an eventful decade writing for the New Yorker in Shanghai and Hong Kong, before returning to the West with a small child and a newly divorced British intelligence officer. Family life was not for her, however, so she moved to New York and visited her husband and two daughters occasionally, turning up at the magazine’s office every day. Her publications list runs to countless articles and 54 books, including biographies of top dead ladies Aphra Behn and Fanny Burnley.
Our 21st episode sees our beloved co-founder Katy Derbyshire tell the stirring story of Noor Inayat Khan, a pacifist who worked as a secret radio operator in occupied Paris. Recorded live at ACUD, and produced and presented by Susan Stone in March 2019.
Our 20th episode features our beloved co-host Florian Duijsens spilling the details on Hollywood actress and Berlin favourite Anna May Wong. Recorded live at ACUD as part of our series on dead Berlin ladies, and produced and presented by Susan Stone in February 2019.
This is our 20th show! Who would have thought that, back when the idea was fermented over a bottle of Rotkäppchen? We’re celebrating in the best way we know – by dressing up fancy and talking about dead ladies on stage. This edition brings you three tales of women who lived flirtatious, outrageous, and courageous lives, each in their own way: a writer of intense fiction and diaries, a celebrity chef, and an anti-Nazi spy. Brought to you by translator, writer, and literary organizer Lucy Jones, writer, campaigner, and foodie Mary Scherpe, and regular Katy Derbyshire. All held together, of course, by your beloved co-host Florian Duijsens. Raise a glass with us – as we toast ourselves and all of you, plus these three fascinating women. Come along and join us in the ACUD Studio on Tuesday, 26 February at 8 pm.
Presented in a messy mixture of English and German. €5 or €3 reduced entry. Doors open 7:30 pm – come on time to get a good seat and a good drink!
East German writer Brigitte Reimann led an eventful life, cut short by cancer at the age of 39. She began writing at the age of 15, initially from within the GDR system, side by side with the workers and on official committees, showered with medals and awards. Reimann wrote short stories and plays for the stage, radio and screen – but publishers rejected her proposals for novels. Having married four times, she said of herself in one of her copious letters: “had a lot of men, did a lot of stupid things – that I don’t regret”. She devoted many years to her novel Franziska Linkerhand, published posthumously and in censored form in 1974, which even received grudging praise from West German critics. Today there are two libraries named after her, and her diaries are gradually being released in English translation.
British TV chef Fanny Cradock’s life was not exactly uneventful either. After her parents frittered away their money she was practically destitute in her youth, and only found her financial feet when she started working at restaurants and discovered fine dining. Eventually, she and her fourth husband got their own BBC television series, teaching the British how to cook fancy dishes without breaking the bank. She fell out of favour after two decades but continued to make the rounds of chat shows and celebrity quiz formats. Cradock is credited with introducing pizza to the UK and inventing the prawn cocktail (not an actual drink, don’t worry), and her eccentric manner mean she is well remembered to this day. Also, two of her marriages were bigamous, because why not.
War heroine Noor Inayat Khan lived to the age of 30. Her father, an Indian musician, playwright and religious teacher, met her American mother through the Sufi movement, and they raised their children in London and France. When World War II broke out, the family fled to England. A convinced pacifist, Inayat Khan hoped to fight the Nazis without shedding blood, and volunteered to train as a wireless operator. She was recruited to the Special Operations Executive and given truncated training before being flown into occupied France as an undercover operative. Betrayed after three months, she held fast under interrogation and twice attempted to escape. After a transfer to a German prison and ten months in shackles, she was executed in Dachau concentration camp. Her statue in London was the UK’s first memorial to a Muslim woman.
This time we have two guest presenters from New Zealand, recorded live at an edition of the Dead Ladies Show presented as part of LitCrawl Wellington, which was produced by Andrew Laking and Claire Mabey of Pirate and Queen. First, renegade historian Jessie Bray Sharpin talks about pioneering mountaineer and journalist Constance Barnicoat. And then we have playwright, poet, broadcaster, book reviewer & theatre critic Maraea Rakuraku telling us about Dr Irihapeti Ramsden, a Māori nurse, writer, educator & anthropologist.
All put together by producer and presenter Susan Stone in January 2019.
Maraea provided us with a little background about Captain Cook, who she speaks about in her talk:
Indigenous Māori and indeed most of the Pacific, have a conflicted relationship with British Explorer, Captain James Cook (1728-1779) credited (still) with having ‘discovered’, in 1769, populated for centuries by Polynesians – Aotearoa/New Zealand. This voyage and the two that followed, in (1772-1775) and (1776-1779) were precursors to colonisation, that would overwhelm Indigenous less than 70 years later and lead to the signing of The Declaration of Independence in 1835 followed by Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi) in 1840. These agreements reinforced the sovereignty and rights of the Indigenous peoples, who at the time were the majority peoples. Introduced disease, combined with the systematic economic, social and spiritual dismantling of cultural systems had a devastating impact upon the Indigenous population, which is still felt to this day.
And here’s a translation of her opening words:
Through my mother, I am Ngāti Kahungunu ki te Wairoa
The last part of our 4-part special FRANKENFRAUEN miniseries, produced in December 2018 by Susan Stone.
In a special encore presentation, Dead Ladies Show co-founder Florian Duijsens tells the story of Elsa Lanchester, the actress made famous by her role in 1935’s Bride of Frankenstein. Recorded live at Bard College Berlin.
And as a special treat, here’s a version of the perennially problematic (and delightful) “Baby It’s Cold Outside” a sung on the radio in 1950 by Elsa and her husband.
Thanks for listening! Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon. Check out the first three parts of our FRANKENFRAUEN series for yet more fascinating women involved in some way with the classic story of Frankenstein.