207. “Marlenus Dietrichus?”

The episode:Outlaw of Gor,” ep. 519

The riff: Sarcastically asked by Crow as an old wise man yammers on about how the good King Marlenus is going to be corrupted by the evil priest Xenos (played by none other than Jack Palance).

The explanation: Seems to be a straightforward reference to Marlene Dietrich, the great German-turned-American citizen who was one of the great stars to thrive in both the silent and sound eras of Hollywood. She was known for her adaptability and evolution throughout her career, first playing sexy femme fatale-type characters when she was younger and then aged who had “seen too much” when she was older, such as her role in Orson Welles’ “Touch of Evil.” She was also a very successful cabaret performer.

Novelty factor: I’ve always rather admired Dietrich since seeing “Blonde Venus” in college. Likewise, her types of characters were kept alive by several Madeline Kahn performances, who satirized her style and sex-symbol status in movies like “Blazing Saddles.”


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