12/27/1901 to 5/6/1992
Marie Magdelene Dietrich von Losch (aka Marlene) was born in Berlin, Germany. Her father was an army officer and because of his constant absences from the family due to his duties, they had to rely on themselves. When he died, while she was 11, Marlenes 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 and acting was to be her vocation. In 1921, Marlene applied for an acting school run by Max Reinhardt. She was accepted and appeared in several stage productions, but never had more than a couple of spoken lines.
She attempted films for the first time in 1922 Her first film was The Little Napoleon (1923), 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 the whole time and they had a daughter. After being seen in the German production of The Blue Angel (1930) in 1930, Marlene was given an opportunity at Hollywood. Her first US film was Morocco (1930) followed, by Dishonored in 1931. This latter movie had her cast as a street walker who is appointed a spy. 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.
In 1939 in Destry Rides Again 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, The Spoilers, The Lady Is Willing and Pittsburgh.
Her make-up man said she kissed so hard that she needed a new coat of lipstick after every kiss. She demanded that Max Factor sprinkle half an ounce of real gold dust into her wigs to add glitter to her tresses during filming.
Afterwards the roles came fewer, perhaps one to two films every year. She only made seven productions in the 1950's. Her last role of any substance was Judgment at Nuremberg 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.