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Marlene Dietrich Biography, Career, Personal Life and Death

Marlene Dietrich Biography

Marie Magdalene Dietrich was born in Leberstraße 65 in the Rote Insel neighborhood of Schöneberg, today a borough of Berlin. Wilhelmina Elisabeth Josefine (née Felsing) was born into an aristocratic Berlin family that ran a jewelry and clock-making business. Louis Erich Otto Dietrich, her father, was a police officer. Dietrich has a one-year-old sister named Elisabeth. Dietrich’s father passed away in 1907. Eduard von Losch, an aristocratic first lieutenant in the Grenadiers, courted and married Wilhelmina in 1914, but he died in July 1916 from wounds incurred during the First World War. Von Losch never formally adopted the Dietrich sisters, hence Dietrich’s surname was never von Losch, contrary to popular belief. She formed the name “Marlene” when she was about 11 years old by combining her first two names. From 1907 to 1917, Dietrich attended the Auguste-Viktoria Girls’ School in Berlin-Wilmersdorf before graduating from the Victoria-Luise-Schule (now Goethe-Gymnasium [de]) in 1918. As a teenager, she studied the violin and got interested in theater and poetry. Her hopes of becoming a concert violinist were dashed by a wrist injury, but by 1922 she obtained her first employment, playing violin in a pit orchestra for silent films at a Berlin cinema. After only four weeks, she was fired.

Marlene Dietrich Career

Marie Magdalene “Marlene” Dietrich was a German and American actress and singer who worked between the 1910s and the 1980s. In the UFA production of The Blue Angel (1930), shot at Babelsberg film studios, Dietrich got her breakthrough role as Lola Lola, a cabaret singer who causes the downfall of a previously respectable schoolmaster (played by Emil Jannings). Josef von Sternberg directed the film and later claimed to have “discovered” Dietrich. Dietrich’s hallmark song “Falling in Love Again,” which she recorded for Electrola, was featured in the film. In the 1930s, she recorded for Polydor and Decca Records. Dietrich worked almost completely as a cabaret artist from the early 1950s through the mid-1970s, appearing live in enormous venues in major cities around the world.

Marlene Dietrich Personal Life

In May 1923, Dietrich married assistant director Rudolf Sieber, who eventually became an assistant director at Paramount Pictures in France, in charge of foreign language dubbing. Maria Riva, their only child, was born on December 13, 1924 in Berlin. She then became an actor, particularly for television. When Maria gave birth to a son (John, subsequently a prominent production designer) in 1948, Dietrich was nicknamed “the world’s most glamorous grandmother”. Riva released a honest memoir of her mother, Marlene Dietrich, after her mother’s death (1992). Dietrich had a long-term romance with actor Yul Brynner when she was in her fifties. Dietrich’s love life lasted well into her seventies. Errol Flynn, George Bernard Shaw, John F. Kennedy, Joe Kennedy, Michael Todd, Michael Wilding, John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, and Frank Sinatra were among her boyfriends. Dietrich kept her husband and his mistress in Europe at first, then on a property in the San Fernando Valley near Hollywood.

Marlene Dietrich Death

Dietrich died of renal failure at her Paris apartment on May 6, 1992, at the age of 90. On May 14, 1992, a requiem liturgy was held in the Roman Catholic church of La Madeleine in Paris. Dietrich’s funeral was attended by around 1,500 mourners inside the church, including ambassadors from Germany, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries, with many more outside.

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