After 70 Years, Marianne Arden Can Still Tickle The Ivories | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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After 70 Years, Marianne Arden Can Still Tickle The Ivories

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Marianne Arden at age 99 on the left, and 70 years earlier in 1942.
Armando Trull
Marianne Arden at age 99 on the left, and 70 years earlier in 1942.

A Chevy Chase senior nearing the century mark is looking to break into show business a second time around. Marianne Arden was a torch singer in the 40's and 50's. Born in Vienna, she toured both Europe and America. She's slowed down a bit since then.

"Because I'm 99," says Arden. "Very few people have a voice when they are 99."

She can still play a mean piano, in spite of being nearly blind and needing a walker to get around. For more than ten years, Arden has been playing every Tuesday afternoon at the Chevy Chase Community Center, to the delight of regulars.

"She just keeps coming every week and playing her heart out," says Ron Irion, one of Arden's regular audience members.

After fleeing Hitler and coming to America, Arden toured the swanky hotel nightclub circuit. "The first engagements that we had were in the Rainbow Room in New York City," boasts Arden. She's also listed in the 51st issue of Who's Who In American Music, a particular point of pride for Arden.

Arden is a songwriter, many of her compositions have to do with love. Married four times, to an engineer, a cook, a wealthy genius and a Stanford professor, she's got plenty of material. Arden left her second husband, the rich one, for a penniless Marine lieutenant for whom she penned "He's Nobody Much."

"'He can't give me rubies, but he makes my lips burn, he isn't outstanding, yet he makes my head turns,'" and he was nice, the only thing that mattered to him was feed me well and to make good love to me," says Arden.

Arden has created three CDs of her songs and, like any modern American Idol wannabe, is hoping someone will  give her a break.

"As soon as I could reach the keys of the piano, I played and that was a love affair and it will last forever and if I don't have that love affair anymore, I will die."

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