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Marlene Dietrich Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (5) | Trivia (41) | Personal Quotes (64) | Salary (13)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 27 December 1901Schöneberg, Berlin, Germany
Date of Death 6 May 1992Paris, France  (kidney failure)
Birth NameMarie Magdalene Dietrich
Nickname Lili Marlene
Height 5' 4½" (1.64 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Her father was a police lieutenant and imbued in her a military attitude to life. Marlene was known in school for her "bedroom eyes" and her first affairs were at this stage in her life - a professor at the school was terminated. She entered the cabaret scene in 1920s Germany, first as a spectator then as a cabaret singer. In 1924, she married and, although she and Rudolf Sieber lived together only 5 years, they remained married until his death. She was in over a dozen silent films in increasingly important roles. In 1929, she was seen in a Berlin cabaret by Josef von Sternberg and, after a screen test, captured the role of the cabaret singer in The Blue Angel (1930) (and became von Sternberg's lover). With the success of this film, von Sternberg immediately took her to Hollywood, introducing her to the world in Morocco (1930), and signing an agreement to produce all her films. A series of successes followed, and Marlene became the highest paid actress of her time, but her later films in the mid-part of the decade were critical and popular failures. She returned to Europe at the end of the decade, with a series of affairs with former leading men (she had a reputation of romancing her co-stars), as well as other prominent artistic figures. In 1939, an offer came to star with James Stewart in a western and, after initial hesitation, she accepted. The film was Destry Rides Again (1939) - the siren of film could also be a comedienne and a remarkable comeback was reality. She toured extensively for the allied effort in WW II (she had become a United States citizen) and, after the war, limited her cinematic life. But a new career as a singer and performer appeared, with reviews and shows in Las Vegas, touring theatricals, and even Broadway. New success was accompanied by a too close acquaintance with alcohol, until falls in her performance eventually resulted in a compound fracture of the leg. Although the last 13 years of her life were spent in seclusion in her apartment in Paris, with the last 12 years in bed, she had withdrawn only from public life and maintained active telephone and correspondence contact with friends and associates.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Bruce Cameron <dumarest@midcoast.com>

Marie Magdelene Dietrich von Losch (aka Marlene) was born in Berlin, Germany on December 27, 1901. Her father was an army officer who had served in the Franco-Prussian War. Because of his constant absences from the family due to his army duties, Marlene and the rest had to rely on themselves. When he died, while she was 11, Marlene's mother married Eduard von Losch and he adopted the Dietrich children. Marlene enjoyed music and attended concerts. She was adept at playing the violin and piano. By the time she was in her mid-teens, Marlene had discovered the stage. Acting was to be her vocation. In 1921, Marlene applied for an acting school run by Max Reinhardt. She was accepted. She appeared in several stage production, but never had more than a couple of spoken lines. In short, she wasn't setting the stage world on fire. She attempted films for the first time in 1922 Her first film was So sind die Männer (1923) which was followed by Love Tragedy (1923). On this last project, she met Rudolf Sieber and married him in 1924. The union lasted until his death in 1976 although they didn't live together that whole time. The remainder of her early film career was generally filled with bit roles that never amounted to a whole lot. After being seen in the German production of The Blue Angel (1930) in 1930, Marlene was given a crack at Hollywood. Her first US film was Morocco (1930) with Gary Cooper later that year followed, by Dishonored (1931) in 1931. This latter movie had her cast as a street walker who is appointed a spy. The film was a rather boring affair but was a success because of Marlene's presence. Movie goers were simply attracted to her. In 1932, Marlene filmed Shanghai Express (1932) which proved to be immensely popular raking in $3 million. Once again, she was cast as a prostitute. The next film was Blonde Venus (1932) which turned out to be a horrible production. Her co-star was Cary Grant and once again she was cast as a prostitute. Marlene seemed to be typecast as a woman of low morals and she wanted different parts. Some films such as Desire (1936) in 1936 didn't do that but she wanted to expand. Her chance came in 1939 in Destry Rides Again (1939) when she was cast as "Frenchy", a Western saloon hostess. This began a new direction for Marlene since it shed the typecasting which she was forced to endure during her career. All through the 1940s, she appeared in well-produced, well-directed films such as Manpower (1942), The Spoilers (1942), The Lady Is Willing (1942) and Pittsburgh (1942) all in 1942. Afterwards the roles came fewer, perhaps one to two films every year. In 1945, Marlene didn't appear in any. She only made seven productions in the 1950's. Her last role of any substance was Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) in 1961. Despite the lack of theatrical roles, Marlene still made appearances on the stage. However, by 1979, she was a shell of her former self. After breaking her leg in one performance, she never made a go of it in show business again. Spending the last 12 years of her life bed-ridden, Marlene died on May 6, 1992 in Paris, France of natural causes at the age of 90.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson

Spouse (1)

Rudolf Sieber (17 May 1924 - 24 June 1976) (his death) (1 child)

Trade Mark (5)

Low and sensual voice
Wearing tuxedoes, men's hats, and men's tailored suits
Her legs
Aura of glamour and luxury
Her signature scent was Bandit by Robert Piguet

Trivia (41)

Received the U.S. War Department's 'Medal of Freedom', in 1947, for entertaining American troops in WWII and her strong stand against Naziism.
Was made a Chevaliere of the Legion by France.
Born at 9:15pm-CET
Her estate, consisting of about 300.000 pieces, was bid for 8 million German marks by the city of Berlin, Germany.
Interred at Friedhof III, Berlin-Friedenau, Germany.
Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#60). [1995]
Gave birth to her only child at age 22, a daughter Maria Elisabeth Sieber (aka Maria Riva) on December 13, 1924. Child's father was her husband, Rudolf Sieber.
Marlene's father was Lt. Louis Erich Otto Dietrich, who died when she was very young. Her mother remarried to Colonel Eduard von Losch, who was killed in WWI.
Her father, a Berlin police lieutenant, died after he fell off a horse when she was ten years old.
She sucked lemon wedges between takes to keep her mouth muscles tight.
Never worked without a mirror on the set so she could constantly check her makeup and hair.
Her make-up man said she kissed so hard that she needed a new coat of lipstick after every kiss.
In a posthumous gift of forgiveness, she left her vast collection of memorabilia to the city of Berlin.
She demanded that Max Factor sprinkle half an ounce of real gold dust into her wigs to add glitter to her tresses during filming.
She prided herself on the fact that she had slept with three men of the Kennedy clan - Joseph P. Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. and John F. Kennedy.
Marlene suffered from bacilophobia, the fear of germs.
Fell and broke her left leg at her last ever last stage appearance in Sydney, Australia, September 1975.
Became an American citizen on March 6, 1937.
Ten years after her death, Berlin - the city of Dietrich's birth which she shunned for most of her life - declared her an honorary citizen. On April 18, 2002, the city's legislature bestowed honor on her as "an ambassador for a democratic, freedom-loving and humane Germany." The declaration hoped this "would symbolize the city of Berlin's reconciliation with her."
Appears on the sleeve of The Beatles "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.
She thought of feet to be the ugliest part of the human body, and therefore always tried to hide them in one way or another
The only show-business friend she ever had was Mae West. However, they never saw one another outside the Paramount lot.
Proficient on the musical saw.
She was voted the 43rd Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
Won a Special Tony Award in 1968.
Was named #9 Actress on The AFI 50 Greatest Screen Legends
First German actress to be Oscar-nominated.
Is one of the many movie stars mentioned in Madonna's song "Vogue"
She spent her last decade in her apartment on the avenue Montaigne in Paris, during which time she was not seen in public but was a prolific letter-writer and phone-caller. In 1984, Academy Award winning actor Maximilian Schell persuaded her to be interviewed for a documentary, but she did not appear on screen.
According to daughter Maria Riva, Dietrich had a long-standing dislike of actress Loretta Young.
In Italian films, she was dubbed by either Lidia Simoneschi, Tina Lattanzi or Andreina Pagnani.
Interviewed in "Talking to the Piano Player: Silent Film Stars, Writers and Directors Remember" by Stuart Oderman (BearManor Media).
Grandmother of production designer J. Michael Riva.
Lived out her life in apartment #12E at 993 Park Avenue in Manhattan where Jamie Lee Curtis had earlier stayed with then fiance J. Michael Riva (Dietrich's grandson) during the Trading Places (1983) shoot.
Was considered for the role of Margo Channing in All About Eve (1950) after Claudette Colbert was forced to pull out of the project due to back injury. However the part was given to Bette Davis, who went on to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance.
Campaigned for the role of Mama Hanson in I Remember Mama (1948) but Irene Dunne, who went on to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance, was cast instead.
Berlin has a street, Marlene Dietrich Platz.
She turned down the role of Charlie in Station West (1948). The part went to Jane Greer.
Became pregnant in 1938 as a result of an affair with James Stewart during the filming of Destry Rides Again (1939) but she underwent an abortion. Stewart did not even know she was pregnant.
Noël Coward (1899-1973) and Marlene Dietrich (1904-1992), the German-born American film and cabaret star, had become, and remained, close friends since their first conversation - by transatlantic telephone - in 1935.
The original "One Touch of Venus" Broadway musical production opened at the Imperial Theatre on October 7, 1943, closed on February 10, 1945 after 567 performances. "One Touch of Venus" with music by Kurt Weill, lyrics by Ogden Nash, directed by Ilia Kazan, featured choreography by Agnes de Mille, starred Mary Martin, Kenny Baker and Paula Laurence. The role of Venus was to have starred Marlene Dietrich. Reportedly Dietrich backed out of the title role during rehearsals, calling it "too sexy and profane," which gave Mary Martin the opportunity to establish herself as a Broadway star. The show satirizes contemporary American suburban values, artistic fads and romantic and sexual mores. Weill had been in America for eight years by the time he wrote this musical, and his music, though retaining his early haunting power, had evolved into a very different Broadway style. The book musical by S.J. Perelman and Ogden Nash was based on the novella "The Tinted Venus" by Thomas Amstey Guthrie, and very loosely spoofing the Pygmalion myth.

Personal Quotes (64)

[on The Blue Angel (1930), German-language version of The Blue Angel (1930)] I thought everything we were doing was awful. They kept a camera pointed here [at my groin]. I was so young and dumb.
I am not a myth.
I never enjoyed working in a film.
[in 1964] I had no desire to be a film actress, to always play somebody else, to be beautiful with somebody constantly straightening out your every eyelash. It was always a big bother to me.
In Europe, it doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman - we make love with anyone we find attractive.
A country without bordellos is like a house without bathrooms.
To be completely a woman you need a master, and in him a compass for your life. You need a man you can look up to and respect. If you dethrone him it's no wonder that you are discontented, and discontented women are not loved for long.
The weak are more likely to make the strong weak than the strong are likely to make the weak strong.
Think twice before burdening a friend with a secret.
I am at heart, a gentleman
When you're dead, you're dead. That's it.
Careful grooming may take twenty years off a woman's age, but you can't fool a flight of stairs.
I'm not an actress -- I'm a personality.
Sex is much better with a woman, but then one can't live with a woman!
[on Loretta Young] Every time she "sins", she builds a church. That's why there are so many Catholic churches in Hollywood.
Most women set out to change a man, and when they have changed him they do not like him.
I have a child and I have made a few people happy. That is all.
The relationship between the make-up man and the film actor is that of accomplices in crime.
There is a lack of dignity to film stardom.
I never ever took my career seriously.
I was an actress. I made films. Finish.
Gary Cooper was neither intelligent nor cultured. Just like the other actors, he was chosen for his physique, which, after all, was more important than an active brain.
Latins are tenderly enthusiastic. In Brazil, they throw flowers at you. In Argentina they throw themselves.
[on Anna Magnani] A force of nature.
[on Hildegard Knef] She's Mother Courage.
The legs aren't so beautiful. I just know what to do with them.
[on Cary Grant] The champion.
[In 1972, about Liza Minnelli] I'm annoyed when people keep comparing her to her mother [Judy Garland]. She's nothing to do with her mother. She's a completely different woman. The film Cabaret (1972) is a great hit for her and that's all one wants.
[on Orson Welles] You should cross yourself when you say his name.
The diaphragm is the greatest invention since Pan-Cake makeup.
Once a woman has forgiven a man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast.
In America, sex is an obsession, in other parts of the world it's a fact.
If there is a supreme being, he's crazy.
]on Rock Hudson] He was one of the gentlest, kindest men in Hollywood--and all those journalists should burn in Hell for the bile they printed about him when he died.
[on reading] I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognizedly wiser than oneself.
[when Paramount bought the rights to the book, 'Mommie Dearest'] I am shocked that Paramount bought that filthy book and made the frightful bitch who wrote it rich, and that rhymes. I did not know Joan Crawford but nobody deserves that kind of slaughter. Too bad she did not leave her where she found her, so she could now spit her poison in the slums of some big city. I hate her with a passion and I know the public will.
[on audiences at her nightclub performances] They spoil you. They love you. Of course, I do a different kind of show in Las Vegas. They want more emphasis on sex. In London and the rest of Europe I can sing French and German songs, as well as English. There's more scope for me. But I enjoy nightclub work, wherever it is.
[on Orson Welles] When I talk with him, I feel like a tree that has been watered.
[on her preference for trousers] They are so comfortable. It takes too much time to be a well-dressed woman. I have watched others. Bags, shoes, hats. They must think of them all the time. I cannot waste that time.
Ernest Hemingway is the most positive life force I have ever encountered. I hate anything negative, and I hate waste. In Hemingway, nothing is wasted.
[after returning to West Germany in 1960] The Germans and I no longer speak the same language.
[during the war] [Adolf Hitler] is an idiot.
[1969] Surely I'm anti-war. I don't think there's anybody that is for war - I mean women. Maybe generals are for war. Professional soldiers might be, I don't know. But I have never found a woman who is for war and naturally I'm against war. I think if you're being attacked you have to have answer back, you must defend yourself... I'm against war that goes and fights in some unknown land. I'm against that very much.
Magazines - the biggest myth creators of all! You must never, ever read American magazines. And if you're sitting in a waiting room and can't help it - don't believe a word of any of them.
[1969, when asked how she relaxes] I don't think I do. You see in our language, in German or in French, there is no such word as relax. This is an American invention. We don't have a feeling like the American has, now it's 07:00 or something and I have to have a drink and relax. It's not a necessity in Europe. He drinks because he likes to drink.
[1969, when asked if she thought the nature of love had changed over the years] I think the real love has not changed at all. If people call all sorts of relationships love, they know themselves it isn't so but they say it in order to make it valuable. In order to make it allowed. You know, when a girl says, but I love him, in order to say that's why I live with him. That's not necessarily so because the real love has not changed and the one great love that will never change is mother love.
[on her life as a star] Do you think this is glamorous? That this is a great life, and that I do it for my health? Well, it isn't. It's hard work. And who would work if they didn't have to? I work because I pay away in taxes to the American Government 88 cents out of each dollar I earn. Everybody in America works today. You have to. Oh - know, I could live tucked away out of sight in some Swiss chalet - but why should I? I am an American citizen, and proud to be so. I enjoy living in that country and one pays for one's pleasures. So I work. And as long as people want me, and I have them eating out of my hands, I shall continue to do so.
[1969] I have never used my body. I have played roles where the legs were used and the body was used but in life, I have never done that.
[on English audiences] They are marvelous and warm. People say the English are so unemotional, but this is untrue. At least I never find them so. To me, they are the most emotional, and also the most un-phoney people I know. And as I am that way too we get along just fine together. I think also the English like me because they know that I do not take myself seriously, and that the whole thing is a joke, and that I am laughing at myself all the time. And when I laugh, they laugh. This is fun. We understand each other so well.
[1969] I've always liked Texas because I met all the Texans in the war, 36th division. We always adored them because they were so terribly conceited being Texans. When they took a little village and set up school, they told everybody that Texas was the capital of the United States.
Stupid people annoy me. There are fans of mine who worship and idolize me, and who are in awe of me. They are stupid people. Who am I to be held in awe? What have I accomplished? If one is to be in awe of anyone, let it be a doctor or a brilliant scientist. Not a performer. I could never be friends with anyone who is stupid enough to worship me.
I am a unique performer and my audience realize this. I mean, who else is there doing what I am doing today?
[1960s, when asked if the tag "sex goddess" annoyed her] You mean like Marilyn Monroe? I'm no sex goddess and I never have been. Not in the '30s - and not now. And I don't get annoyed, no, simply because one comes to expect people to confuse glamour with sex, which is a different thing altogether. This is the price one pays for being famous.
[1963, when asked why, at age 61, she continued to act] For the money. What else for?
[1969, on attitude] I do think it's rather stupid to be nonchalant. I think one should be full of enthusiasm for everything that happens if one considers it to be worthy of enthusiasm.
[1960s, when asked what she would do if she inherited a couple of million pounds the following day] What would I do? I'd retire. On the spot. No more work. I have an awful lot of private life to catch up on, which, at this rate, I don't think will be possible. When you're in the public eye as conspicuously as I am, it is conceivable to maintain a private life - but the trouble is you can only devote half your time to it. My private life, which no one knows anything about, nor ever will, needs more than just half my time if it is to be a success.
I do not change my face for my public. I have not tried to create an image or a myth about myself; I am as quiet and placid off-stage as I am when the bright lights are on me. No temperaments, no periods of dark, gloomy despair and pessimism. I am easy-going and the only thing I cannot stand is stupidity - in any form.
[1969] This secret of all performing is that you have to be able to concentrate at such an extent that everybody who is listening to you has no other thoughts. It's particularly difficult with songs because I sing in many different languages and all the people don't understand what I'm saying. You still have to keep them in trance and I'm really happy that I'm able to do that.
[1969] America has a youth complex. In particular with me, they adore to make me older and I don't see why they should do that because it's bad enough as it is, but maybe it looks better in print if I'm a hundred and two and I still walk on the stage and I'm not on crutches. It becomes rather thick but youth cult is quite bad. You don't have that in Europe at all because I think it is because America still thinks that it's a young nation. I don't think it is. It should stop that. I think they have been young long enough. They should grow up.
You can be good in a play that is bad and the whole thing flops. It is just not worth the effort or the heartbreak. I am not a brave or courageous woman. I prefer to do what I know is safe.
[on her appeal among audiences] It is not nostalgia. Three-quarters of my audience are young people who cannot possibly be nostalgic simply because the mood I create is of a period most of them have not lived in. Besides, the songs that seem to go down best are the newer ones - that is, when I can find new songs good enough to sing.
[1969] I think if you have any sort of intelligence you can't succumb to adoration because people adore so many things. They also adore things that you think quite worthless so you can't take it too seriously.
[1960s, when asked about the secret of her success] Secret? No secret at all. I work hard, that is all. People say that I have some sort of "quality" - well, maybe I have. How am I to know that? All I know is that I walk onto a stage, stand still, and sing. I think it is Dietrich the woman they like - rather than Dietrich the singer. They pay to see me for what I am.
[1969] Success in America means a lot to a man and it means a lot to his wife and family. There is a general belief that success is synonymous with happiness. Well, it doesn't, as you know, they don't go together at all. The American is striving for success and works much too hard in order to get, whatever, a little more money or a raise or something. He loses out on all the pleasures of life because of that. In Europe they have a car, they have it 15 years and they polish it and they wash it and they love it but here people don't love their cars because they know next year they are going to get another one. And then everything is on credit. They don't own it and then you buy many more things than you need because it's on credit and it doesn't bring them happiness. It just doesn't. Possessions do not make you happy.

Salary (13)

Dishonored (1931) $125,000
Blonde Venus (1932) $125,000
The Garden of Allah (1936) $200,000
Knight Without Armour (1937) $450,000
Destry Rides Again (1939) $75,000
Seven Sinners (1940) $150,000
The Lady Is Willing (1942) $100,000
Pittsburgh (1942) $100,000
Golden Earrings (1947) $100,000
Stage Fright (1950) £70,000
Touch of Evil (1958) $7,500
I Wish You Love (1973) $200,000
Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo (1978) $250,000

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