Ernest Hemingway was bad at aquatic sex. Oh, and War is Spinach.

Flirtacious letters written by Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway to Marlene Dietrich – the world-renowned actress of early film and stage – have revealed a playful and intense relationship between the two icons.Thirty letters Hemingway written between 1949 and 1953 to the German-born actress and singer were made available to the public for the first time on Monday at the Ernest Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Hemingway’s letters will complement 31 letters from Dietrich to Hemingway that are already in the collection, and reflect the depth of the pair’s relationship. In the letters she calls him Papa and he calls her daughter and Kraut, a common World War II pejorative that he uses affectionately.

The correspondence written by Hemingway include seven hand-signed letters, eighteen type signed letters, four telegrams, and a Christmas card. Hemingway wrote to the Dietrich from: Cuba, France, Italy, Spain and Kenya.

In a letter dated June 19, 1950, at 4 a.m., the he wrote: “You are getting so beautiful they will have to make passport pictures of you 9 feet tall. What do you really want to do for a life work? Break everybody’s heart for a dime? You could always break mine for a nickel and I’d bring the nickel.”

“I love you and I hold you tight and kiss you hard,” Hemingway ends one letter. In another he writes, “I can’t say how every time I ever put my arms around you I felt that I was home.”

And yet the timing was never right. As A. E. Hotchner writes in his book “Papa Hemingway: A Personal Memoir,” Hemingway once told him: “The thing about the Kraut and me is that we have been in love since 1934, when we first met on the Île de France, but we’ve never been to bed. Amazing but true. Victims of unsynchronized passion.” Whenever one party was unattached, the other was not.

“They adored each other, but there was no sexual thing,” said Dietrich’s daughter, Maria Riva. “They were buddies, they were friends, they were comrades in arms.”

In a 1951 letter, Dietrich began: “Beloved Papa, I think it is high time to tell you that I think of you constantly. I read your letters over and over and speak of you with a few chosen men. I have moved your photograph to my bedroom and mostly look at it rather helplessly.”

A series of letters that Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway wrote to a fellow world-weary friend, German actress Marlene Dietrich, are slated to be released Thursday. Scroll through some excerpts from the letters the American author sent Dietrich, which will be on display at the John F. Kennedy Library. ‘‘I know lots of wonderful gossip, some of it even true.’’ Sept. 26, 1949

Hemingway, who died in 1961, described to Dietrich his work on “The Old Man and the Sea” amid stifling heat in Cuba, where he lived. “I never worked better and tried to keep cool with the pool and sent Mary (his fourth wife) away for vacation where it was cool,” he wrote on Nov. 21, 1951. “It was too hot to make love if you can imagine that except under water and I was never very good at that.”
Writing about Dietrich in an unpublished article for “Life” magazine, 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.” 

Excerpts from Ernest Hemingway’s correspondence with Marlene Dietrich:

“I know lots of wonderful gossip, some of it even true.”

Sept. 26, 1949

“Mary is still the best woman in the bed that I have ever known. Of course I have not been around much and am basically shy.”

May 23, 1950

“Toi and moi have lived through about as bad times as there ever were. I don’t mean just wars. Wars are Spinach. Life in general is the tough part.”

June 27, 1950

“Also, if it is alright, I do not like too much Nobel Prizes. They give you that money; but I have passed for that money at dice and the rest is head-aches and thousands of letters.” — March 24, 1955

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