skip navigation
Marlene Dietrich

Marlene Dietrich

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (27)

Recent DVDs

 
 

Destry Rides Again DVD American movie icon James Stewart stars in this unconventional western as the... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

James Stewart: The Western Collection... Hollywood legend James Stewart takes the law into his own hands with 6... more info $39.98was $39.98 Buy Now

Touch Of Evil: 50th Anniversary Edition... The Ultimate Film Noir ExperienceExperience director Orson Welles' masterpiece... more info $26.98was $26.98 Buy Now

The Spoilers DVD The Duke is out for Alaskan gold in this western co-starring Randolph Scott and... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

John Wayne: An American Icon... Everyone's favorite cowboy, John Wayne, lights up the screen in five legendary... more info $26.98was $26.98 Buy Now

The Rise And Fall Of Adolf Hitler: Black... Understanding pure evil. That's what you'll come away with by watching this... more info $19.99was $19.99 Buy Now

Also Known As: Maria Magdalene Dietrich, Maria Magdalena Von Losch Died: May 6, 1992
Born: December 27, 1901 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Germany Profession: actor, singer, sales clerk, factory worker, newspaper vendor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Arguably one of the most beautiful women ever to grace the silver screen, actress Marlene Dietrich utilized her cat-shaped eyes, high cheekbones, and halo of blonde curls to capture the imagination of fans both male and female. At once alluring and sexy, Dietrich projected a curious androgyny by casting off societal mores and sometimes dressing as man, wearing trousers, vests and ties. She received her start in her native Germany working as a chorus girl and later performer in silent films, where she caught the attention of director Josef von Sternberg, who became both mentor and lover. It was von Sternberg who introduced Dietrich to America in "Morocco" (1930), a bold and rather scandalous debut that featured the actress dressed in a man's tuxedo and kissing another woman. She went on to star in a number of hit movies with von Sternberg, including "Shanghai Express" (1932) and "The Scarlett Empress" (1934), before the two broke off their professional and personal relationship. Though one of the highest paid actresses of her day, Dietrich nonetheless made a series of flops like "Angel" (1937) and "Knight Without Armor" (1937) that tagged her as box office poison. Meanwhile, she became actively...

Arguably one of the most beautiful women ever to grace the silver screen, actress Marlene Dietrich utilized her cat-shaped eyes, high cheekbones, and halo of blonde curls to capture the imagination of fans both male and female. At once alluring and sexy, Dietrich projected a curious androgyny by casting off societal mores and sometimes dressing as man, wearing trousers, vests and ties. She received her start in her native Germany working as a chorus girl and later performer in silent films, where she caught the attention of director Josef von Sternberg, who became both mentor and lover. It was von Sternberg who introduced Dietrich to America in "Morocco" (1930), a bold and rather scandalous debut that featured the actress dressed in a man's tuxedo and kissing another woman. She went on to star in a number of hit movies with von Sternberg, including "Shanghai Express" (1932) and "The Scarlett Empress" (1934), before the two broke off their professional and personal relationship. Though one of the highest paid actresses of her day, Dietrich nonetheless made a series of flops like "Angel" (1937) and "Knight Without Armor" (1937) that tagged her as box office poison. Meanwhile, she became actively involved in selling war bonds and performing for the troops during World War II. Dietrich's film career wound down in the 1950s following noted performances in "Witness for the Prosecution" (1957), "Touch of Evil" (1958) and "Judgment at Nuremberg" (1961). During this time, she found second life as a stage performer who sold-out houses the world over. But a series of injuries suffered in the mid-1970s forced her retirement while raising charges that she was battling alcoholism. Though she remained in seclusion for the rest of her days, Dietrich left behind a legacy as an alluring screen goddess whose sensual, yet mysterious persona embodied the true definition of movie star.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Entertaining the Troops (1989) Herself
2.
 Marlene (1984) Herself
3.
 Going Hollywood: The War Years (1983) Herself (Archival Footage)
4.
 Just a Gigolo (1978) Baroness Von Semering
5.
6.
 Black Fox (1962) Narrator
7.
 Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) Madame Bertholt
8.
 Touch of Evil (1958) Tana
9.
 The Monte Carlo Story (1957) Marquise Maria de Crevecoeur
10.
 Witness for the Prosecution (1957) Christine Vole
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Berlin and Dressau, Germany
1921:
Stage debut as chorus girl
1922:
Screen acting debut in "So Sind die Manner/Napoleon's Kleiner Bruder/Der Kleine Napoleon"
1923:
First leading role, opposite William Dieterle in his directorial debut, "Der Mensche am Wege"
1925:
Appeared as unbilled extra in G.W. Pabst's "Joyless Street," which starred Asta Nielsen and Greta Garbo
1926:
Acted in the German-language film "Manon Lescault"
1929:
Had first lead in films in "Die Frau, Nach der Man Sicht Sehnt"
1929:
Achieved stardom as Lola Lola in Josef von Sternberg's "Der Blaue Engel/The Blue Angel"
1930:
Immigrated to USA (April)
1930:
Hollywood debut in English-language version of "The Blue Angel", produced by Paramount but not released till after her second US film, "Morocco", was a smash success
1931:
Received sole Best Actress Oscar nomination for "Morocco"
1932:
Made "Shanghai Express", the most popular of the seven films she starred in under Josef von Sternberg's direction
1933:
First American starring vehicle not directed by von Sternberg, "Song of Songs", helmed by Rouben Mamoulian
1935:
Made last film with von Sternberg, "The Devil Is a Woman"
1937:
Became American citizen on March 6
1937:
Last film under Paramount contract, "Angel"
1938:
Voted "box office poison" by motion picture exhibitor's poll, along with Katharine Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Joan Crawford, Edward Arnold and others
1939:
Appeared in popular comeback vehicle, the classic comedy-Western, "Destry Rides Again", opposite James Stewart
1944:
Devoted considerable time during WWII to entertaining the troops; traveled throughout north Africa and Europe
1948:
Directed by Billy Wilder in "A Foreign Affair"
1950:
Collaborated with Alfred Hitchcock on "Stage Fright"
1952:
Offered a fine turn in "Rancho Notorious", helmed by Fritz Lang
:
Headlined shows in Las Vegas and in London
1956:
Was one of the many stars who made cameo appearances in "Around the World in 80 Days"
1957:
Reteamed with Billy Wilder on "Witness for the Prosecution"
1958:
Offered a memorable cameo as a gypsy fortune teller in "Touch of Evil", directed by Orson Welles
1961:
Was featured in the Stanley Kramer-directed film "Judgment at Nuremberg"; first worked with Maximilian Schell
1967:
Enjoyed stage triumph on Broadway with one-woman show
1973:
Made television debut hosting and starring in the CBS variety special "Marlene Dietrich: I Wish You Love"
1975:
Injured in a stage fall in Australia; retired to her home in Paris
1978:
Returned to feature films in small role in "Just a Gigolo"
1984:
Subject of the documentary "Marlene", directed by Maximilian Schell; refused to appear on camera although she had telephone conversations with Schell
1993:
The city of Berlin purchased her personal collection of some 100,000 photographs, diaries, costumes and other pieces of memorabilia, which formed the core of a new museum, itself part of the German Film Archives, to be housed in the European headquarters of Sony; with the help of Sotheby's in New York, Dietrich's daughter Maria Riva, spent almost a year cataloguing her mother's possessions in preparation for the sale
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Hochschule fur Musik: -
Max Reinhardt School: -

Notes

"I have a child and I have made a few people happy. That is all." --Dietrich, assessing her life and career (quoted in "Halliwell's Filmgoer's Companion", 9th edition)

British critic Kenneth Tynan described Dietrich's androgynous image as "sex without gender" (quoted in "The Hollywood Reporter Star Profiles", 1984) He went on to say "She has the bearing of a man; the characters she plays love power and wear trousers. Marlene's masculinity appeals to women and her sexuality to men."

Hollywood producer Joe Pasternak urged Paramount to sign Dietrich because she had "the one essential ingredient of international stardom: millions of guys would want to make love to her." (quoted in "The Hollywood Reporter Star Profiles" 1984)

She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

She was awarded the Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor in 1950.

Promoted from Officer to Commander of the French Legion of Honor (January 1990).

"If she had nothing more than her voice she could break your heart with it. But she has that beautiful body and the timeless lovliness of her face. It makes no difference how she breaks your heart if she is there to mend it." --Ernest Hemingway

"I, personally, preferred the legend," --Marlene Dietrich on her screen persona.

"It doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman, [I] make love with anyone [I] find attractive." --Marlene Dietrich.

"I'm a queen! I should stay up for a princess?" --comment allegedly made by Dietrich, declining an invitation to meet Britain's Princess Margaret.

"Her name, which begins with a caress, ends with the crack of a whip. Her beauty is the creator of her own hymn of fame." --Jean Cocteau.

"She was a total instrument, accepting my instructions with intelligence, and despite her own doubts, fulfilling my concept of the ultimate female. I dipped her in the melting pot of my imagination, took care that her picture matched my own, immersed her in light, until the chemistry was complete ... " --frequent director Josef von Sternberg.

"She is graciously condescending. She is the motive for all sacrifices and heroic deeds. The acting? She leaves that to her slaves. She never acts. She simply displays her gorgeous body." --Graham Greene.

"Miss Dietrich is a professional -- a professional actress, a professional wardrober and a professional lighting technician." --Alfred Hitchcock.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Rudolf Sieberwhich. Actor, farmer. Born in 1897; married from May 17, 1923 until his death in 1976; separated for most of the time they were married; went on to have long-term relationship with Tami Matul.
companion:
Willi Forst. Actor.
companion:
Margo Lion. Actor. Together c. 1928.
companion:
Richard Tauber. Opera singer. Together in 1929.
companion:
Josef von Sternberg. Director. Made seven films with Dietrich between 1929 and 1935.
companion:
Gary Cooper. Actor. Met during filming of "Morocco" (1930); Dietrich was served a writ by Cooper's wife during her divorce proceedings; writ later dropped.
companion:
Edith Piaf. Singer.
companion:
Mercedes de Acosta. Writer.
companion:
Maurice Chevalier. Actor.
companion:
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Actor, writer.
companion:
Jean Gabin. Actor.
companion:
Marion Carstairs. Speedboat racer. First met in 1937; reportedly had affair around 1939-1940; Dietrich referred to Carstairs as 'The Pirate'; had vitriolic break-up.
companion:
Erich Maria Remarque. Novelist. At time of relationship, Dietrich was reportedly also seeing Marion Carstairs.
companion:
John Wayne. Actor. Had relationship c. 1940.
companion:
George S Patton. US Army general. Reportedly presented her with a pair of pearl-handled revolvers.
companion:
Michael Wilding. Actor. Met during filming of "Stage Fright" (1950).
companion:
Yul Brynner. Actor. Had relationship c. 1951-1955.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Louis Erich Otto Dietrich. Policeman. Died in 1907.
mother:
Wilhelmina Elisabeth Josephine Dietrich Von Losch. Dietrich made her last visit to Germany to attend her mother's funeral.
step-father:
Edouard Von Losch. Died from wounds suffered in WWI.
sister:
Elisabeth Dietrich Will. Born in 1900; with her husband Georg had worked for the Nazis at Bergen-Belsen running a canteen and cinema for German soldiers and SS officers during WWII; embarrassed by her sister's associations, Dietrich later claimed to be an only child, although she reportedly maintained occasional contact with her sibling until her sister's death in 1973.
daughter:
Maria Elizabeth Sieberwich. Actor. Born on december 13, 1924; wrote a biography of her mother in 1992; had four sons with second husband William Riva.
grandson:
J Michael Riva. Production designer. Born in 1948.
grandson:
Peter Riva. Literary agent. Born c. 1950.
grandson:
Jean-Paul Riva. Born c. 1957.
grandson:
David Riva. Born c. 1961.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"My Life Story"
"Marlene Dietrich's ABCs"
"Marlene Dietrich" Pyramid Books
"Marlene: The Life of Marlene Dietrich" W.W. Norton & Co.
"Dietrich By Her Daughter" Alfred A. Knopf
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute