Marlene Dietrich

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Marlene Dietrich, 1933 Dietrich's signature

Marlene Dietrich (actually Marie Magdalene Dietrich ; born December 27, 1901 in Schöneberg , today Berlin ; † May 6, 1992 in Paris ) was a German - American actress and singer. She took citizenship of the United States in 1939 and supported the US forces during World War II . Dietrich is considered a Hollywood and style icon and is one of the few German-speaking artists of the 20th century who also achieved international fame. The American Film Institute named her one of the 25 greatest female screen legends of all time in 1999 . Characteristic were her long legs, her deep smoky-erotic voice and the trouser suits she wore ; she made the garment socially acceptable for women in the 1930s.

life and work

Marlene Dietrich, 1920s

Dietrich began her career as an actress in the theater and in silent films from the Roaring Twenties in Berlin. Her rise to international artist status was achieved in 1930 with the lead role in the film Der Blaue Engel by director Josef von Sternberg . With him she went to Hollywood in the early 1930s, where she was signed by Paramount . At the side of Gary Cooper she directed the drama Morocco (1930), for which she received an Oscar nomination for best actress. She established herself as the first German film star in Hollywood with films such as Shanghai Express (1932) and The Great Bluff (1939).

During the Nazi era in Germany, the actress refused to support Nazi propaganda . Instead, she got involved in US troop support during World War II , singing for the soldiers and visiting the wounded in hospitals . In 1947, US President Harry S. Truman awarded the Medal of Freedom .

From the 1950s, Dietrich was mainly on stage as a singer. Her most famous, internationally successful songs include I am set to love from head to toe , Lili Marleen , I still have a suitcase in Berlin and tell me where the flowers are . She received recognition for her acting achievements during these years for Witness for the Prosecution (1957), directed by Billy Wilder and for The Judgment of Nuremberg (1961) alongside Spencer Tracy . After shooting her last film, Beautiful Gigolo, Poor Gigolo (1978), she ended her career for health reasons. Until her death in 1992, she lived secluded in her Paris apartment.

Dietrich was the mother of the actress Maria Riva and the grandmother of the film architect John Michael Riva .

Early years

The birthplace at Leberstrasse 65 in Berlin ( location )
Marlene (left) with sister Liesel in 1905.
Court photographer Erich Sellin, Unter den Linden 19 .
Memorial plaque on the house where she was born in Berlin-Schöneberg , Leberstrasse 65

Marlene Dietrich was born on December 27, 1901 at Sedanstrasse (from 1947: Leberstrasse), house number 65 in Schöneberg in what is now Berlin. Her parents were the police lieutenant Louis Erich Otto Dietrich (1867-1908) and his wife Wilhelmine Elisabeth Josephine (1876-1945; née Felsing), the daughter of a Berlin jeweler. Marlene and her older sister Elisabeth (1900–1973) spent the first years of their lives in what can be described as “middle-class” parents on the Red Island in Berlin.

Marlene received violin and piano lessons from the violinist Bernhard Dessau at an early age and learned French and English. She later wrote about her childhood in her memoir: "My parents were wealthy, I had the best possible upbringing." In spring 1907 she started school at the Berlin Auguste Viktoria School on Nürnberger Strasse. After her father's death, her mother married the officer Eduard von Losch in 1914 and the family moved to Dessau , where Marlene was taught at the Antoinetten Lyceum. Von Losch died of a war injury on the Eastern Front in 1916 . An adoption of two daughters, it did not come. From April 13, 1917, Marlene attended the Victoria-Luisen-Schule (today Goethe-Gymnasium ) in Berlin, which she left at Easter 1918 without a high school diploma.

In 1918 she began training as a concert violinist with Robert Reitz (with whom she was to have an affair at times) at the State Music School in Weimar . The skills acquired here later enabled her - having long since advanced to become a film star - the virtuoso play on the singing saw , with which she used to entertain her colleagues during breaks in filming . In 1921 she continued her studies in Berlin, but had to drop out the following year because of tendinitis , whereupon she decided to become an actress.

At first she joined a girls' troupe and danced with her singing and dancing through the variety shows in Germany. Marlene was not satisfied with her first stage experiences, however, she wanted to go to the theater: "The theater was the only place where you could perform beautiful texts and beautiful verses like Rilke's , which broke my heart and at the same time gave me courage."

Early career in the 1920s

After an audition at the Deutsches Theater , she received in 1922 her first theater role in the Grosses Schauspielhaus in Shakespeare -Stück Taming of the Shrew , which Ivan Schmith as a director after the staging of Max Reinhardt had refurbished. It is therefore often mistakenly assumed that Dietrich also completed her acting training at Reinhardt's drama school in Berlin. In fact, however, she and Grete Mosheim took private lessons from members of the Reinhardt Ensemble, where she was trained in rhythmic movement and gymnastics, fencing and voice training. From September 1922 to April 1923 she played - mostly as an extra  - in 92 theater performances.

Her uncle Willi Felsing put Dietrich in touch with a film director, and she was invited to test shoots. Dietrich made her screen debut shortly afterwards in the role of a maid in So Are the Men (1923), directed by Georg Jacoby . She later referred to herself in the film as "a potato with hair."

The shooting of the four-part silent film drama tragedy of love (1923), directed by Joe May Dietrich learned the then manager Rudolf Sieber know (1897-1976) and married him on 17 May 1923 in Berlin. Their daughter Maria Elisabeth was born on December 13, 1924 . Dietrich and Sieber separated in the 1930s, but they remained married until his death.

After medium to large stage parts and supporting film roles, Dietrich was also entrusted with leading roles in film projects from 1927. The Viennese film producer Sascha Kolowrat-Krakowsky hired her as Erni Göttlinger in Gustav Ucicky's Café Elektric , in which she played next to the crowd's favorite Willi Forst . In 1928 Dietrich got another leading role in the Harry Liedtke film I kiss your hand, Madame by director Robert Land . Despite this, she often denied her early roles in later years and downgraded her German stage and film work to pure extras . “Don't ask me about the twenties. I was in the twenties "anything, Dietrich said in an interview with Maximilian Schell in time , however, on 25 March 1983. What is certain is their participation in less than 18 silent films in the Golden Twenties (see. Chap. Silent films ).

Breakthrough with the "Blue Angel"

Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel

In 1929 Dietrich received the role that helped her international breakthrough: The " femme fatale " Lola Lola in The Blue Angel (1930) based on the novel by Heinrich Mann, Professor Unrat . The UFA - film producer Erich Pommer had the Austro - American director Josef von Sternberg hired for production. The shooting took place in the Ufa studios in Neubabelsberg , today's Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam . After Melodie des Herzens (1929) with Willy Fritsch , it was to be the second German sound film .

Screenwriter Karl Vollmoeller drew the attention of von Sternberg, who was looking for a suitable leading actress for the film adaptation of the novel, to Dietrich, who at the time was appearing in the Spoliansky - Kaiser - Revue Zwei Krawatten . Since von Sternberg remained skeptical after visiting the revue, Vollmoeller arranged for Dietrich to set up a test recording. “I urged Mr. von Sternberg to cast the leading role with Marlene Dietrich, a young actress who was unknown until then, but who I was convinced had the potential to become a really big movie star. On such occasions, Mr. von Sternberg always shared my opinion, as I had acquired the reputation of an infallible talent scout ”, Vollmoeller recalled in his autobiographical notes. The test recordings finally convinced von Sternberg, so that he decided in favor of Dietrich and against Lucie Mannheim, who was favored by Pommer, or well-known actresses such as Blandine Ebinger , Brigitte Helm and Käte Haack . Even Hans Albers , Dietrich Revue partner in two ties , was hired for the film.

On October 9, 1929, Dietrich signed the contract that guaranteed her a lump sum of 20,000  Reichsmarks , plus 5,000 RM for the English-language version that was being filmed at the same time. Her film partner Emil Jannings , as an international star, received a fee of 200,000 RM. With the role of Lola Lola, Josef von Sternberg initiated Dietrich's rise to a new world star within a few years; Jannings noticed and disliked his keen interest in the young actress. The shooting therefore ran under tension between old star and newcomer; A good 30 years later, Dietrich described her position in the production team in an interview: “Albers was always nice to me, Jannings, on the other hand, refused me until the last day of shooting [...], like many who thought the director Sternberg was crazy because he was me committed. You see, I am always asked about my fellow actors from back then, but after all I was nothing. A little extra who was allowed to speak a sentence in different plays on the same evening in Reinhardt's different theaters - hurrying from one to the other by bus - who made the extra series in a few films. And which nobody believed when Sternberg gave me the role in the Blue Angel ... "

The Blue Angel celebrated on April 1, 1930 in Berlin premiere ; the US premiere took place on December 5, 1930. The song sung by Dietrich in the film I am set to love from head to toe ( English Falling In Love Again ) became a world hit .

Emigration and Hollywood career in the 1930s

After Dietrich's great success as Lola Lola, she followed director Josef von Sternberg to Hollywood, where she submitted to the star system . She signed a seven-year contract with Paramount Pictures that guaranteed her a starting salary of $ 1,750 a week. At the same time, her staging began as a sex symbol and Hollywood diva: she lost 30 pounds, wore the finest wardrobe and always paid attention to the right lighting and make-up when filming.

She shot her first Hollywood film, Morocco (1930), alongside Gary Cooper and under the direction of Sternberg. In it Dietrich plays a night club singer who has to choose between two men. In the most famous scene of the film, Dietrich, dressed as a man, kisses another woman. The scene, which was written into the script at the suggestion of the actress, almost fell victim to the scissors because of the strict US censorship. To prevent this, Dietrich had the idea of ​​accepting a flower from the kissed woman in the scene, which she then presented to her film partner Gary Cooper. With this “trick” she was able to convince the censors of the necessity of the film kiss, since otherwise the flower in the hand of the leading actress would have made no sense. For her role in the romantic drama, she received an Oscar nomination for best actress. It remained her only nomination for the award.

In the war drama Dishonored (1931), Dietrich played a spy for the third time under Sternberg's direction. A year later, the fourth and most commercially successful collaboration between the director and the actress followed: Shanghai Express . After the drama Blonde Venus (1932) with Cary Grant and the historical film Die Scharlachrote Kaiserin (1934), The Devil is a Woman (1935) was the last joint film by Dietrich and Sternberg.

In 1936 she turned down an offer from Goebbels that guaranteed her high salaries and free choice of scripts and staff for films made in Germany. Dietrich continued to shoot in the United States, with Hitchcock , Lubitsch , Welles and Wilder , among others .

In the mid-1930s, along with Greta Garbo and Katharine Hepburn , she was declared a " box office poison " by the film press . Their films did not meet box office expectations. An image change, which she brought about in the film The Great Bluff (1939), helped her out of the impasse . From the unapproachable goddess she became the brawling barmaid who sang slippery songs in a smoky voice.

Troop support in World War II

A year before the outbreak of war, Dietrich moved her main European residence to Paris, from where she began to actively and financially support refugees from Germany and emigrating artists. On June 9, 1939, Dietrich gave up his German citizenship and took on the US.

After her lover Jean Gabin volunteered for the French Liberation Forces in the USA , Dietrich was also dying to do her part in the fight against National Socialism . If she wasn't allowed to fight like a man, she decided to appear as a singer for the GIs as close to the front as possible. She wanted to be there early on the advance to Germany . During the Battle of the Bulge , she narrowly escaped capture. Because of her unconditional solidarity for the fighting “boys” she became one of the most popular and sought-after actors in the US troop support in Africa and Europe . She later summed up that she had never had such intensive contact with her audience again.

In Stolberg , behind the German-Belgian border near Aachen , she was recognized by a German and, to her great surprise, welcomed with joy. This unexpected reaction was not to remain an isolated incident; other women in the village gathered ingredients for a welcome cake, which they claim was the most delicious dish of their lives.

Marlene Dietrich gives an autograph to a wounded US soldier (Belgium, 1944)

While crossing southern Germany with the American troops, after the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp by the British on April 15, 1945, she received news from her sister Elisabeth. During the Second World War , she and her husband Georg Will ran a casino and cinema in a barracks in Bergen in the Lüneburg Heath near the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, which was mainly frequented by SS crews. Marlene Dietrich visited her sister before the end of the war and supported her by interceding on her behalf with the occupying forces. In later years Elisabeth Will was also financially supported by Dietrich, but always denied to keep her out of the headlines. The Wills' only son, Hans Georg, later worked for UFA in the Federal Republic of Germany.

She experienced the end of the war with the American troops in Pilsen, Czech Republic . In the following May days she managed to visit her husband's relatives in Aussig in the Soviet-occupied part of Bohemia, who were, however, expelled a short time later.

While Dietrich was returning to New York in the early summer of 1945, Dietrich's mother was found by the Soviet troops in occupied Berlin, who informed their American allies of this. When the Americans marched into Berlin in July 1945, Dietrich was able to speak to her mother briefly on the military radio and see her again a few weeks later, at the end of September, on another USO concert tour in Berlin. Her mother, who had sworn to survive Adolf Hitler , died in November 1945. Dietrich managed to fly in in time for the burial at the cemetery on Stubenrauchstrasse in Berlin-Friedenau.

Her political and social engagement against the NSDAP regime was recognized much earlier internationally than in her home country, Germany, where many of her actions met with incomprehension. Through her actions she stood up not only against Hitler, but also against many millions of ordinary German soldiers. The term “traitor” was (still today) widely published and discussed. As early as 1947, Marlene Dietrich received the Medal of Freedom , the highest order in the USA for civilians. In 1950 the French government was awarded the title “Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur” (Knight of the Legion of Honor ). The French presidents Pompidou and Mitterrand later promoted her to "Officier" and finally to "Commandeur" of the Legion of Honor for her services.

With the beginning of the Cold War , their engagement became increasingly pacifist . She made this clearest with the song Tell Me Where The Flowers Are by Pete Seeger .

Return in the post-war period

Burt Bacharach and Marlene Dietrich during a tour in Israel, 1960

After the war, Dietrich played in Billy Wilder's triangular comedy An Foreign Affair (1948), a German night club singer in destroyed Berlin, who had a close relationship with the Nazi leadership during the Third Reich. In the film, she castigated the black market system at the time with the song Black Market ; Friedrich Hollaender accompanied her on the piano.

It was in Hollywood in 1948 that Dietrich met the younger Hildegard Knef for the first time , with whom she had an almost maternal friendship for decades. A year later, Dietrich directed the thriller Die Rote Lola (1950), directed by Alfred Hitchcock , followed by the British film drama The Journey into the Unknown (1951) alongside James Stewart and the western Engel der Hajagt (1952) by Fritz Lang .

From 1953 she was almost exclusively on stage as a singer and celebrated worldwide success with her "speaking singing" and songs like Lili Marleen , which was best known through Lale Andersen . From 1953 to 1954 she gave stage shows in Las Vegas at the Sahara Hotel and in London at the Café de Paris. Her musical companion was Burt Bacharach for about ten years from 1955 , who helped her with tailor-made arrangements to transform her image from a nightclub singer into that of an expressive artist; she no longer appeared in clubs, but only in theaters and developed her famous "one-woman show".

Marlene Dietrich, 1963

On a European tour she returned to West Germany and West Berlin in 1960. As she herself pointed out, her audience loved her show. However, she not only met a friendly audience, but also saw herself exposed to hostility from parts of the population and the press as an alleged “traitor to the fatherland”. In Düsseldorf she was spat at by a young girl, and on a stage someone threw an egg and hit her in the head. However, she emphatically refused to "let himself be driven off the stage by a blonde Nazi", the "thrower" was almost lynched by the theater audience and had to be brought out of the theater under protection. In an interview after this incident, when asked if she was afraid of an attack, she replied laconically: “Afraid? No I am not afraid. Not of the Germans, just about my swan coat, from which I would hardly get egg or tomato stains, I'm a little afraid. "

In 1961 she made her last big film, The Judgment of Nuremberg , which deals with the Nuremberg Trials and one of the key questions of the post-war period: What did you know? As an actress, she speaks texts that she was not convinced of as being true. In her last roles, Dietrich refuted the opinion that she was only moderately talented as an actress, could not act outbursts of emotion, and received great acclaim for her performance, which almost earned her the Golden Globe for her role in the prosecution .

Marlene Dietrich performed at the UNICEF gala in Düsseldorf in 1962 . 1963 followed in Baden-Baden an appearance at the German Schlager Festival.

Until she was 75, she toured all over the world. She was the first German artist to perform in Russia after World War II. She was also enthusiastically received at concerts in Poland and Israel. When Dietrich performed in the Warsaw Congress Hall in 1964, she was accompanied by the Polish musician Czesław Niemen with the group Niebiesko-Czarni . She heard his song Czy mnie jeszcze pamiętasz , which she liked so much that she soon recorded her own version of it (mother, have you forgiven me?) . In Israel, her manager explicitly warned her not to perform songs with German lyrics on stage, which was prohibited after the Second World War. Nonetheless, she spontaneously opposed his order: “I don't sing one song in German - but nine!”. At first the audience was shocked, but then the ice broke and she was applauded, impressed by her courage and honesty. This made her the first singer who was allowed to sing German texts on stage in Israel. On the flight to Israel, Dietrich had learned an Israeli folk song from a stewardess, which she sang as an encore, for which the Israeli audience loved her.

Retreat in Paris

Marlene Dietrich got increasingly alcohol problems and ended her stage career after a femoral neck fracture , which she sustained during a performance in Sydney on September 29, 1975. Three years later she last appeared in  front of the camera for the film Beautiful Gigolo, Poor Gigolo (1979) - alongside David Bowie , among others . After filming, she withdrew from the public eye completely and lived in seclusion in her Paris apartment at 12 avenue Montaigne, where she did not leave her bed for the past eleven years until her death. Her daughter Maria took care of her now pill-addicted and alcoholic mother, who used a specially made gripper arm to fetch all the things that she had placed around her bed. She employed a secretary and a maid and often had meals cooked for her from a German specialty restaurant. Except for the employees and their close family, no one was allowed into her home.

She kept in touch by telephone with the “greats of the world” as well as with friends and family, whom she called up to thirty times a day, especially her daughter. The telephone was the only connection to the outside world, through which Dietrich still had a great influence on her environment.

Marlene Dietrich's grave of honor in the Schöneberg III cemetery in Berlin-Friedenau , quote from Theodor Körner

Years later, she agreed to work on a documentary about herself. Director Maximilian Schell got their approval to film them. Shortly before filming began, however, she withdrew her consent and only allowed tape recordings. When Schell asked her about it during the interview, she said: I've been photographed to death ... (" I've been photographed to death ..."). Schell, confronted with the failure of his idea of ​​the project, decided to design the film as a collage and underlay the tape recordings with photos and excerpts from Dietrich's films. The film ends with the recitation of the poem “O dear, as long as you can love” by Ferdinand Freiligrath , which moved Dietrich to tears. The film Marlene (1984) was nominated for an Oscar for best documentary and won several European awards.

Her first book was published in 1963 with the title ABC of My Life , and in 1979 her autobiography was published: Take Just My Life . In 1987 a slightly modified version of the autobiography appeared with the title Ich bin, thank God, Berlinerin . Dietrich asked her daughter Maria Riva: “Write a book about me. Only you can do it. The whole truth. But only after my death. "

Death and hesitant recognition in their hometown

Marlene Dietrich died in Paris in 1992 - officially of heart and kidney failure. Dietrich's secretary and friend Norma Bosquet, who visited her almost every day in her Paris apartment for the last few weeks of her life, said the actress likely committed suicide with a sleeping pill overdose after suffering a second stroke two days earlier . Dietrich was buried after a large funeral service in the Paris Madeleine in Berlin with great sympathy of the population at the Schöneberg III cemetery in a simple grave in Dept. 34–363 near the grave of her mother in Dept. 17–486. The grave is one of the honor graves of the State of Berlin. The grave inscription Here I stand on the stamps of my days is a line from the sonnet “Farewell to Life” by the poet Theodor Körner, who was seriously wounded at the time .

In the days after her death, she was only controversial among a few as a "traitor to the fatherland". Letters to the editor and the actress Evelyn Künneke criticized them, a planned memorial event was - officially for organizational reasons - canceled. In 1996 there was still controversy in Berlin over the name of a street after her.

In 1997, the then Berlin district of Tiergarten gave the central square between the newly built Potsdamer-Platz arcades, Hotel Grand Hyatt and musical theater / casino the name Marlene-Dietrich-Platz. The dedication reads: “Berlin's world star of film and chanson. Commitment to freedom and democracy, for Berlin and Germany ”. On her 100th birthday in 2001, the state of Berlin officially apologized for the hostility. Posthumously she received honorary citizenship of Berlin on May 16, 2002 .

Effect and reception

Style icon

Marlene Dietrich is considered the epitome of a style icon. For decades she managed to reinvent herself optically, to stage herself and to set fashion trends. She embodied glamor, elegance and perfection. She caused a sensation for the first time in what is probably the most famous scene in the film Der Blaue Engel from 1930, in which, in her role as a nightclub singer , she sits on a barrel in suspenders , pumps and a top hat on a barrel, with her right leg in front of her arms the chest bends and sings the song I'm head to toe set for love . The scene made her a sex symbol and her long legs her trademark. Arrived in Hollywood, Dietrich, who had previously been rather buxom, began to transform into femme fatale. She lost about thirty pounds, had the finest wardrobes tailored, and perfected her makeup; their high dünngezupften eyebrows drew with black kohl for, wore several layers of eye shadow on to have appear larger to their eyes and painted her a heart-shaped pout. She even went so far as to have four molars pulled to emphasize her high cheekbones.

In Morocco , her first Hollywood film from 1930, she kissed another woman in a tuxedo . Dietrich not only revolutionized the fashion world, but also broke with the traditional gender role. Until then, the tuxedo was a garment reserved for men. However, Dietrich also appeared privately in men's clothing and often had himself photographed in a suit and tie. The wide-cut, high-waisted trousers she wore were copied so often that they have found their way into many fashion lexica under the name Marlene trousers . Her masculine clothing style gave her an androgynous charisma, which women and men were equally attracted to. Kenneth Tynan , one of her friends, wrote about her: "She has sex but no positive gender." (She has a gender, but no clear gender identity.)

From the 1950s onwards, her stage dresses caused a sensation, which she created with the costume designer Jean Louis and which the London press celebrated as "the greatest achievement in the theater world since the invention of the trapdoor". From a fabric specially made for her in Italy called “Souffle”, which was dyed in her skin tone, a tight, floor-length dress was sewn in the same cut as her secret bodice, in which she could only triple. In this dress she stood in front of a mirror for hours and had embroiderers from American film studios apply sequins, pearls, tassels or crystal stones to the dress, which were often moved up to fifty times until Dietrich was satisfied with the visual effect. The stones, tassels and pearls on the dress were marked with tiny red threads and Dietrich often worked with the embroiderers for several months on the implementation. A well-known American costume designer said: “You don't make clothes for 'Die Dietrich', you make them with her.” In these clothes, of which Dietrich had several dozen made, she was elegantly dressed, but looked naked and how "strewn with stars". She said of herself, “I can't sing. So what I'm wearing must be a sensation. "

The production of their stage mantle was very artistic. With a three-meter-long round train, spiral sleeves and a round collar that often slipped over her shoulders on stage, made of swan breast down, sewn in concentric, narrow circles on a basic coat made of souffle and looked more precious than white fur . Some newspapers went crazy assuming it was made of extraterrestrial material. Dietrich always traveled with two such coats, which had to be shaken for several minutes before the performance in order to develop their full volume. 3,000 swans are said to have lost their lives for these coats. She applied another principle of her “nude clothes” to her “wind dresses”, in which the souffle was draped and sewn onto her bodice, also made of souffle, and was blown into and away from her body in long veils by a wind machine, firmly sewn and apparently only held by a piece of jewelry at hip level so that her legs came into their own.

Marlene Dietrich was the coveted object of many photographers. She became immortal through the photos of Edward Steichen , Irving Penn , Richard Avedon , Milton Greene , François Gragnon, John Engstead, George Hurrell , Antony Armstrong-Jones , Cecil Beaton, and Willy Rizzo.

Trademark law

With a ruling of April 24, 2008, the Federal Court of Justice ruled with regard to a Marlene Dietrich portrait that the portrait of a (living or deceased) person is generally available for trademark protection. Afterwards the figurative mark “Marlene Dietrich” was registered with the German Patent and Trademark Office for clothing, footwear and headgear, among other things.


On October 24, 1993, most of Dietrich's estate was sold to the Deutsche Kinemathek Foundation after US institutions showed no interest in it. The estate became part of the exhibition at the Filmmuseum Berlin . The collection includes more than 3,000 items of clothing from the 1920s to the 1990s, including both film and stage costumes and more than 1,000 items from her personal wardrobe; 15,000 photographs, including by Cecil Beaton , Horst P. Horst , George Hurrell , Lord Snowdon and Edward Steichen ; 300,000 pages of documents, including correspondence with Burt Bacharach , Yul Brynner , Maurice Chevalier , Noël Coward , Jean Gabin , Ernest Hemingway , Karl Lagerfeld , Nancy and Ronald Reagan , Erich Maria Remarque , Josef von Sternberg , Orson Welles and Billy Wilder as well as film posters and sound recordings.

Pieces from Dietrich's Manhattan apartment , along with other personal items such as jewelry and clothing, were sold in a public auction by Sotheby's in Los Angeles on November 1, 1997. The Park Avenue apartment sold for $ 615,000 in 1998. A diamond-studded gold ring that Bernd Eichinger bought at this auction and given to his partner at the time, Katja Flint , was auctioned for a good cause on the United Charity auction platform in July 2018 .


Silent films

Sound films

Documentaries with Marlene Dietrich


Songs (selection)

  • Beware of blonde women
  • I'm set for love from head to toe
  • When the best friend
  • Quand l'Amour meurt
  • If I could wish for something
  • The world was young
  • I still have a suitcase in Berlin
  • It's in the air
  • I am the dashing Lola
  • Give me the man
  • Falling in Love Again
  • Children, tonight, I'll choose something
  • Jonny, when it's your birthday
  • Paff, the Magic Dragon (also English Puff, the Magic Dragon )
  • You cannot live without love
  • Cherche la Rose
  • Tell me where the flowers are
  • You have no idea how beautiful you are, Berlin
  • The wind alone knows the answer
  • Where did you get those beautiful blue eyes?
  • Just a gigolo
  • Lili Marleen
  • The Boys in the Backroom
  • Awake in a dream
  • Illusions
  • The Laziest Gal in Town
  • I May Never Go Home Anymore
  • Alone in a big city
  • Please don't go away ( Ne me quitte pas )
  • My blonde baby
  • Blond woman
  • You've got that look
  • Peter
  • Hot voodoo
  • Dear organ grinder
  • Unter Linden ... unter Linden
  • That was in Schöneberg
  • That was his Milljöh
  • Once you have a bride
  • My husband is unable to attend
Chart positions
Explanation of the data
The new Marlene
  DE 34 04/15/1965 (8 weeks)
The blonde angel / Marlene 100
  DE 98 01/14/2002 (1 week)
Tell me where the flowers are
  DE 20th 11/01/1962 (33 weeks)
The wind alone knows the answer
  DE 32 01/01/1964 (4 weeks)

Awards and honors (selection)

Memorial plaque on Marlene-Dietrich-Platz, Berlin-Tiergarten
Star for Marlene Dietrich on the Boulevard der Stars in Berlin

Awards from the show industry

Other honors

  • The asteroid (1010) Marlene , discovered in 1923, is named after her.
  • 1940/41: Max Ernst created the painting Marlene , which bears her facial features.
  • 1947: Awarded the Medal of Freedom , the highest civil honor in the United States of America
  • 1950: Appointed Knight of the French Legion of Honor (Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur)
  • October 31, 1960: Award from the State of Israel
  • March 16, 1963: Awarded the Belgian Leopold Order by the Belgian King
  • 1971: Appointment as officer of the French Legion of Honor (Officier de la Légion d'Honneur)
  • 1972: Medal of Freedom of the US Frontline Fighters Association
  • 1989: Appointment as Commander of the French Legion of Honor (Commandeur de la Légion d'Honneur)
  • On August 14, 1997, Marlene Dietrich's portrait appeared on a German postage stamp in the definitive series Women of German History .
  • November 8, 1997: Name of the Marlene-Dietrich-Platz in Berlin-Tiergarten ( location )
  • May 16, 2002: Posthumous award of honorary citizenship of Berlin
  • In 2007, the German luxury writing instrument manufacturer Montblanc launched the Marlene Dietrich Special Edition . The limited collection consists of fountain pens and ballpoint pens made of black precious resin, which are decorated with a dark blue sapphire.
  • One of the first new Intercity Express trains ( ICE 4 ) was named after Marlene Dietrich at the end of October 2017 .

Works about Marlene Dietrich



Biographies (selection)

Literary representations

  • In 2014, the Dutch author Marianne Vogel published the literary thriller In de schaduw van Marlene Dietrich (“In the shadow of Marlene Dietrich”), which is set in Berlin and partly depicts the milieu of the Kurfürstendamm in the 1920s.

Further references can be found on the discussion page .

Audio documents

  • Marlene songs. With Judy Winter at the Renaissance Theater Berlin. duo-phon records, Berliner Musenkinder special 1998, production: Volker Kühn.
  • Tell me you love me - testimonies to a passion. Marlene Dietrich and Erich Maria Remarque . Radio play, 2002, 105 min., Author: Evelyn Dörr, production: NDR , broadcast: April 16, 2004.
  • Judy meets Marlene. Judy Winter reads and sings Marlene Dietrich. duo-phon records, Berliner Musenkinder special 2003, audio book and production: Volker Kühn.
  • Marlene Dietrich. One life. An audio biography . By Werner Sudendorf, Argon Verlag, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-86610-516-4 .

Film adaptations and film documentaries

  • Marlene . Documentary, Germany, 1984, 94 min., Director: Maximilian Schell , documentary about and with sound recordings by the artist
  • Joseph Vilsmaier filmed the life of Marlene Dietrich in 1999/2000 with fictional insertions. The fictional film was named Marlene and Katja Flint took on the title role
  • Marlene Dietrich - Her own song . Documentary, USA, Germany, 2001, 105 min., Book: Karin Kearns, director: John Michael Riva .
  • Hitler's women. Marlene Dietrich, the opponent . Documentary, Germany, 2001, 42:36 min., Script and direction: Matthias Unterburg, production: ZDF , arte , online video.
  • An unfinished love. Marlene Dietrich and Jean Gabin. Documentary film, Germany, 2012, 52:30 min., Script and direction: Daniel Guthmann , Christian Buckhard, production: DG Filmproduktion, WDR , arte , first broadcast: February 9, 2013 on arte, summary by ORF III
  • The last dress of Marlene Dietrich. Documentary, Germany, 2017, 26:15 min., Script and direction: Sabine Carbon and Felix Oehler, production: CO2Film, rbb , arte , first broadcast: May 7, 2017 on arte, synopsis by ARD , with fashion designers Wolfgang Joop , Lisa Lang and Anja Dragan.

Stage productions

Web links

Commons : Marlene Dietrich  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Commons : Marlene Dietrich  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Further web links can be found on the discussion page .

Individual evidence

  1. MD short biography . In: , citing the birth register entry no. 7 from January 2, 1902 in the Schöneberg registry office.
  2. Marlene Dietrich biography in: prisma ; accessed on May 17, 2017.
  3. Alice Schwarzer : Settlement of a daughter. ( Memento from August 1, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) In: Emma , March / April 1993.
  4. AFI's 50 Greatest American Screen Legends . American Film Institute ; accessed on May 17, 2017.
  5. a b Birgit Haustedt: The wild years in Berlin. A gossip and cultural history of women . edition ebersbach, Dortmund 1999, ISBN 3-931782-59-X , chapter: Leni and Marlene , p. 158.
  6. a b The information on the date of death and the cause of death vary. According to the documentary Marlene Dietrich - Her own song (2002), in which Marlene Dietrich's grandson John Michael Riva worked as a director and producer, Louis Erich Otto Dietrich died of heart failure in 1907. After Karin Wielands Dietrich & Leni Riefenstahl. The dream of the new woman. (Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-446-23770-4 , p. 13) Dietrich's father succumbed to syphilis in a psychiatric hospital in 1908 . The Munzinger Archive names 1911 as the date of death. According to the death certificate of the Berlin-Charlottenburg registry office, he died on August 5, 1908 in Berlin-Charlottenburg in his apartment at Akazienallee 48.
  7. ^ Marlene Dietrich at , accessed on September 26, 2011.
  8. Axel Frohn, Fritjof Meyer : The denied sister . In: Der Spiegel . No. 25 , 2000 ( online ).
  9. Heinrich Thies , Fesche Lola, brave Liesel. Marlene Dietrich and her denied sister. Hoffmann and Campe, ISBN 978-3-455-00161-7 . Ders .: Elisabeth Will. In the shadow of the blue angel . In: Die Zeit , No. 40/2017, p. 23.
  10. Later the family lived in Kaiserallee (since 1950 Bundesallee ), cf. Marlene Dietrich in Berlin . Deutsche Kinemathek Foundation ; Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  11. Marlene Dietrich: I am, thank God, a Berliner. Memoirs. Ullstein, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-548-24537-4 , p. 11.
  12. later renamed Goethe-Oberschule II, cf. Jörg Müller: Great tradition lives on . In: Mitteldeutsche Zeitung , March 8, 2007.
  13. List of the fallen in the regimental history of the 77th Infantry Regiment at (accessed on January 1, 2020)
  14. Neighborhood walks. In: , accessed on January 25, 2015.
  15. Ingrid Czaika: Arthur Rösel. Life and work of the Weimar composer . AVM Edition, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-95477-046-5 , p. 47.
  16. ^ Hermann G. Weinberg in: Werner Sudendorf: Marlene Dietrich. Documents, essays, films . Ed .: Deutsche Kinemathek Foundation . Hanser, Munich 1977, ISBN 3-446-12463-2 .
  17. a b Birgit Haustedt: The wild years in Berlin , chapter: Leni and Marlene, p. 167.
  18. Marlene Dietrich: I am, thank God, a Berliner. Memoirs, Berlin 1997, p. 59.
  19. ^ Werner Sudendorf: Marlene Dietrich. Documents, essays, films. Updated version. Ullstein, Frankfurt / M., Berlin, Vienna 1980, ISBN 3-548-27506-0 , p. 392; s. a. Program of The Taming of the Shrew . In: Blätter des Deutschen Theater 9, Issue 2 (1922)
  20. Birgit Haustedt: The wild years in Berlin , chapter: Leni and Marlene, p. 168.
  21. Birgit Haustedt: The wild years in Berlin , chapter: Leni and Marlene, p. 163.
  22. Steven Bach : Marlene Dietrich: Life and Legend , p. 62.
  23. a b c Werner Sudendorf: Marlene Dietrich. Documents, essays, films . Ed .: Deutsche Kinemathek Foundation. Hanser, Munich 1977, ISBN 3-446-12463-2 . , Vol. 1, p. 85.
  24. The blue angel . ; accessed on May 6, 2018.
  25. ^ History of the Babelsberg studio . Film Museum Potsdam ; accessed on May 6, 2018.
  26. December 16, 1929. The first sound film in Germany: Melodie des Herzens. ( Memento of February 11, 2009 in the Internet Archive ). In: NRW 2000 - A virtual journey through time .
  27. ^ Karl Vollmoeller on Dietrich. ( Memento from August 22, 2014 in the Internet Archive ). In: .
  28. a b Birgit Haustedt: The wild years in Berlin , chapter: Leni and Marlene, p. 187.
  29. ^ Sabine Michael: Marlene in Munich. In: Abendzeitung , Munich, No. 127, May 27, 1960.
  30. The Blue Angel - Premiere Dates. In: IMDb , accessed October 1, 2011, (English).
  31. Music and text: Friedrich Hollaender . See Friedrich Hollaender and his Jazz Symphony Orchestra; Electrola EG 1770 (Matr .: BLR 6033-1), February 6, 1930, recorded in the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin
  32. Birgit Haustedt: The wild years in Berlin , chapter: Leni and Marlene, p. 192.
  33. Morocco Trivia. In: IMDb , accessed October 1, 2011, (English).
  34. Frank Sistenich: Suite 45 - Marlene Dietrich Hotel apartment in Paris . In: Die Welt , October 27, 2011.
  35. Axel Frohn: Cool Quickies . In: Der Spiegel . No. 19 , 2002 ( online - to Marlene Dietrich's FBI file).
  36. a b c Marlene Dietrich - Her own song. Emigration out of love for Germany. ( Memento of January 7, 2009 in the Internet Archive ). Directed by David Riva, MDR , broadcast on March 10, 2004.
  37. ^ Werner Sudendorf: Marlene Dietrich. Documents, essays, films. Hanser, Munich 1977, ISBN 3-423-31053-7 , p. 15 ff.
  38. Czesław Niemen. In: , biography, (English).
  39. ^ Benjamin Maack : Marlene Dietrichs last years . Spiegel Online , May 4, 2012.
  40. ^ Ute Wiedemeyer: Marlene Dietrich on the phone: New documentation . one day , September 20, 2013.
  41. Text of the poem: Karl Theodor Körner. Farewell to life . ( Memento of the original from May 12, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  42. Marlene-Dietrich-Platz. In: Street name lexicon of the Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein (near  Kaupert )
  43. Hellmuth Karasek : The unloved angel . In: Der Spiegel . No. 25 , 2000 ( online ).
  44. At the same time she became a lesbian and gay icon, because at that time homo- and bisexuality was hardly discussed. The Terzett Wenn die best Freund mit Margo Lion and Oskar Karlweis from 1928, which is about a ménage-à-trois , is one of the few early works on record that addressed the subject.
  45. Peter B. Flint: Marlene Dietrich, 90, Symbol of Glamor, Dies . In: New York Times , May 7, 1992.
  46. Martina Pock: Marlene Dietrich on the 20th anniversary of her death. No one will ever be like her . In: Sü , May 6, 2012, picture gallery.
  47. ^ Obsession Marlene - Maison Européenne de la Photography . In: Maison Européenne de la Photographie . ( [accessed January 21, 2018]).
  48. ^ Federal Court of Justice (Az .: I ZB 21/06)., April 24, 2008.
  49. Marlene Dietrich in the permanent exhibition. German Kinemathek; accessed on July 17, 2018
  50. ^ Dietrich fans scramble to pick up actress's treasures . BBC News; accessed on July 17, 2018
  51. 993 Park Avenue: Marlene Dietrich's New York Apartment . Last goddess; accessed on July 17, 2018
  52. Marlene Dietrich's diamond ring goes under the hammer . World online ; accessed on July 17, 2018
  53. Charts DE
  54. gxk / APN : Berlinale: Honor for Marlene Dietrich . In: Focus , February 12, 2010.
  55. Marlene-Dietrich-Platz. In: Street name lexicon of the Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein (near  Kaupert )
  56. Fountain pen: Muses Edition. Marlene Dietrich Special Edition . Montblanc .com; accessed on January 1, 2018.
  57. The ICE 4 names have been determined. The jury selected the top 25 names for the upcoming train baptisms. ( Memento from October 28, 2017 in the Internet Archive ). In: DB Inside Bahn , October 27, 2017.
  58. Bed stories. Remembering Marlene Dietrich. Dance theater .; accessed on January 15, 2018.