News & Politics

Marlene Dietrich to Be Honored at Fall Dinner of Current and Former Spies

The actress’s daughter, Maria Riva, plans to attend the OSS Society gala.

Marlene Dietrich (left) with her daughter, Maria. Photograph courtesy of Film Museum Berlin (Marlene Dietrich Collection).

The post-summer social season feels a long way off, as it
should, but in truth party
planners and caterers and numerous hosts are busy planning,
positioning, and sending
out “save the dates.” One that got our attention is from the
OSS Society.
If you’re not familiar with the group, the Office of Strategic
Services, created during
World War II, was the CIA before there was a CIA. The OSS
Society is a club of spies
and former spies, and other key figures in the intelligence
industry, who gather each
fall for a glamorous black-tie

and the presentation of the William J. Donovan Award. Donovan
was the visionary and
first leader of the OSS, which he modeled on the British Secret
Service. Last year
the society honored
Ernest Hemingway. If it’s possible to top that, this year’s event may—the October 26 evening is to
be dedicated to Hemingway’s good friend
Marlene Dietrich.

There’s so much possibility for drama and glamour in that theme, and the OSS Society
already has announced that Dietrich’s daughter,
Maria Riva, will attend and make a traditional martini toast to her mother. There will also
be a toast to Hemingway, and a band will perform some of Dietrich’s songs, including
those she recorded for the OSS to be used as propaganda—the most famous being “Lili Marlene.” Really, all that’s needed now is to have Madonna—who routinely channels
Dietrich—jump out of a cake. Though that’s not likely, the society is importing
Colin Field, the head bartender at the Paris Ritz’s Hemingway Bar, named so because the author
was a devoted patron.
Forbes magazine has called Field the “world’s greatest bartender.”

Receiving the Donovan award at the dinner will be
Admiral William McRaven, who was in charge of Operation Neptune Spear, the Navy SEAL raid that resulted in
the death of Osama bin Laden. For security reasons, the OSS Society can’t say whether
members of that SEAL crew will be at the dinner, but they do expect a number of current
and former SEALs to be among the approximately 800 dinner guests at the Ritz-Carlton
West End. If you’ve got that James Bond thing going on, or Dietrich or Hemingway,
you may want to be there, too.