Perle Mesta

Playing her Part: Perle Mesta in Luxembourg

By Paul Lesch

In 1950, Irving Berlin, the renowned American composer, wrote “Call Me Madam”, a musical inspired by the flamboyant Perle Mesta and her stay in Luxembourg. In the 1940s,  Perle Mesta was mainly known in the United States for her social and mundane interests. Her lavish cocktail parties attended by Washington’s political elite awarded her the name "hostess with the mostes'”. After having financially supported her personal friend, Democrat candidate Harry Truman, in the 1948 presidential election, Perle Mesta was appointed first American Minister to Luxembourg (1949-1953) where she lived up to her fame as she launched a diplomatic style of her own.

The book’s author, Paul Lesch, was born in Luxembourg in 1963 and studied history and cinema at Strasbourg University and New York University. He teaches these two subjects in several Luxembourg schools and at Miami University’s John E. Dolibois European Center in Luxembourg. He is the author and co-author respectively of “René Leclère, Pionnier du cinéma luxembourgeois” (Centre National de l’Audiovisuel, 1999) and “Three Spotlights on Hitch” (Cinémathèque Municipale Luxembourg, 1999) and has produced a documentary film about Perle Mesta, entitled “Call Her Madam” (Samsa, 1997).

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