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Marlene Dietrich Poster

Biography

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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the last 13 years of her life were spent in seclusion in her apartment in Paris, with the last 12 years in bed, she had withdrawn only from public life and maintained active telephone and correspondence contact with friends and associates.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 The Little Napoleon (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 daughter)

Trade Mark (4)

Low and sensual voice
Wearing tuxedoes, men's hats, and men's tailored suits
Her legs
Aura of glamour and luxury

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).
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 (42)

[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.

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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