Marlene Dietrich

On this date in 1901, entertainer and actress Marlene Dietrich, née Maria Magdalena Dietrich, was born in Schoneberg, Germany, near Berlin. She became a cabaret singer in the 1920s, worked in silent films, then was typecast as a cabaret singer in the memorable “The Blue Angel” film (1930) directed by Josef von Sternberg. She was invited to Hollywood, where her first role was opposite Gary Cooper in “Morocco” (1930). She played a prostitute in “Shanghai Express” (1932).

For a time, she was Hollywood’s most highly paid actress, although unhappy over the casting. After several failed films, she returned to Europe to work. Dietrich became a U.S. citizen in 1937. Her comeback came in “Destry Rides Again” (1939) with Jimmy Stewart. A noted critic of Nazism, she toured in arduous conditions with the Allies during World War II and was awarded medals by the U.S. and France for her efforts. She worked in nightclubs and Las Vegas and periodically appeared in films, notably “Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961). She made over 50 movies, including silents, during her career.

Dietrich was married only once, to director Rudolf Sieber from 1923-76. She had many affairs in between, often to his knowledge. They had a daughter, Maria Elisabeth, in 1924. As of this writing in late 2019, Maria Riva was 94 and living in Los Angeles. Dietrich died of renal failure at age 90 in Paris in 1992. 

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