The two women couldn’t have been more different.
Marlene Dietrich was an internationally known movie star who radiated sexual magnetism. She was also unapologetically androgynous and bisexual, at a time neither was openly accepted. A married woman whose list of lovers seemed endless, Dietrich was defeated only by aging, which made a dent in her prodigious selfconfidence.
Sylvia Plath was a shy but influential poet and novelist. While she captured the public imagination of other artists and lovers of her art forms and won a Pulitzer Prize, she never became the household name Dietrich was. Plath is also known for her turbulent relationship with husband and fellow poet Ted Hughes. After several bouts of depression and suicide attempts (possibly due to bipolar disorder), Plath took her own life at the age of 30.
Dietrich and Plath are now posthumously “sharing the same space,” in exhibitions dedicated to them at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.