Marie Magdalene "Marlene" Dietrich (27 December 1901 — 6 May 1992) was a German-American actress and singer, and is considered one of the true legends of The Golden Age of Hollywood.
Born in Schöneberg, Berlin, she started out in vaudeville and theater, then moved to silent films. The transition to sound coincided with her move to Hollywood in 1930; she became a U.S. citizen in 1939. An anti-Nazi, Dietrich performed for the American troops on the front lines of the European theater of World War II. She also played a major part in helping many refugees in Europe emigrate to Hollywood.
As an actor, she is known for her sultry, somewhat stoic style of acting. She also famously crossdressed in many of her roles, usually cabaret scenes. She's most famous for her many collaborations with director Josef von Sternberg.
Dietrich was very secretive of her private life, although she was openly bisexual. Her list of conquests is truly staggeringnote , although it should be taken with a grain of salt, especially because a lot of those claims come from her rather jaded daughter, actress Maria Riva, who also published poetry written by her. However (and somewhat alarmingly), some bits have been confirmed by the FBI archives. The infamous founder of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, ever the paranoid type, had feared there could be a possible Nazi spy operating in the heart of Hollywood. Dietrich's German background made her an extremely conspicuous target to Hoover despite her anti-Nazi stances, and between 1942 and 1944 he had agents shadowing her and monitoring her every move.
As usual, you can find the basics at The Other Wiki.
Marlene Dietrich on TV Tropes:
- The Blue Angel (1930)
- Morocco (1930)
- Blonde Venus (1932)
- Shanghai Express (1932)
- The Scarlet Empress (1934)
- Desire (1936)
- Knight Without Armour (1937)
- Destry Rides Again (1939)
- Kismet (1944)
- A Foreign Affair (1948)
- Stage Fright (1950)
- Rancho Notorious (1952)
- Around the World in Eighty Days (1956) (cameo)
- Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
- Touch of Evil (1958)
- Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
Marlene Dietrich's works provide examples of the following tropes:
- Bifauxnen / Wholesome Crossdresser: An early and iconic example for cinema.
- Femme Fatale: Marlene along with Louise Brooks was the Trope Codifier for this.
- Glamorous Wartime Singer: She became one during World War 2, touring a lot for the Allies in Western Europe from late 1944 to spring 1945.
- Good Bad Girl: Practically all of her roles.
- It's Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Being German-born, Dietrich's first name "Marlene" isn't pronounced "Mar-LEEN" as in English, but "Mar-lay-neh" as in German.
- Large Ham: She often played roles of this caliber in her later life. She's really having fun in Stage Fright (1950).
- Misattributed Song: The song "Lili Marlene" is often misattributed as dedicated to her, the similarity of her name and the fact that she did reprise it with great success don't help, and she is often believed to be the first who sang it. The song was actually written in 1915 by a conscripted German school teacher who combined the nickname of his friend's girlfriend, Lili, with the name of another friend, Marlene, who was a nurse. The song was first performed by Lale Andersen and became a smash hit in 1941 once Radio Belgrade started broadcasting it for the troops of Nazi Germany (which Dietrich left for good), and that success echoed even among the Allies who listened to German radio broadcasts, hence Dietrich's reprise to cash in on its success.
- Nice Hat: Often wore a top hat while performing her cabaret act.
- Pretty in Mink: Whether on stage or in a film, if she wore furs, she would make sure to look her best, especially all the fur-trimmed dresses in The Scarlet Empress.
- Smoking Is Glamorous: One of the most iconic glamorized smokers, and provides the page image.
- Speech-Impeded Love Interest: She was a beauty who had many admirers; she also pronounced her r's as w's, a trait she shared with another great actor of that time, Kay Francis, and which was often seen as part of her charm.
- Speech Impediment: See Speech-Impeded Love Interest.
- Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind. Wo sind sie geblieben?Where have all the flowers gone?