She died at age 90 in Paris some 20 years ago on May 6, 1992; but The New York Times obituary titled: "Marlene Dietrich, 90, Symbol of Glamour, Dies” also reported how this famed movie star and singer’s career began some 90 years ago in May 1922 when “Dietrich first started playing small parts in Max Reinhardt films.” It was back aftter World War I - in the early 1920s - that The New York Times reported how creating “the image of Marlene Dietrich was all important.” For instance, the liner notes for the newly re-leased 20th anniversary tribute CD “Marlene Dietrich: Falling in Love Again,” explains how Dietrich became a top actress and a vocalist in 1922 with her signature “huskily insinuated voice” that helped to communicate her art even when not singing the melody, “but, oh the look of her.” Also, Dietrich “look” was created by frequently being photographed “in soft focus with her high cheekbones, enormous dreamy eyes and endless legs emphasised by the lighting, she had the look of an icon about her, an almost dream-like figure.”
Also, Dietrich was made an hononrary citizen of Berlin on May 16, 2002, marking the 10th anniversary of her death; while earlier this month - to mark the 20th anniversary of her passing – a special ceremony was held on May 6, 2012, at her Berlin grave memorial that reads: “Tell Me, Where the flowers are,” quoting Dietrich. And, Dietrich is often featured in Memorial Day events that look back at the heroes of World War II; with Dietrich viewed as being brave for standing up to Hitler and leaving Germany before the war.
At the same time, the German government statement marking her passing notes how “she was one of the few German actresses that attained international significance. And, despite tempting offers by the Nazi regime, she emigrated to the USA and became an American citizen.”
Dietrich the icon that Madonna and others followed
It’s no secret that many of today’s top women entertainers sort of resemembel the icnoic Marlene Dietrich, with Madonna often paying tribute to the actress and singer in both her records and on stage performances.
During her career, Dietrich remained popular by “continually re-inventing herself, professionally and characteristically,” explained The New York Times obibuary from 20 years ago when it highlighted such Dietrich films as her performance as “Lola” in “The Blue Angel,” directed by Josef van Sternberg.
While the Blue Angel brought her international fame, there were many other breakaway parts in such films as “Shanghai Express” (that Madonna re-made with her former husband Sean Penn), and the film “Desire” that focused on Dietrich’s “glamour and exotic looks, cementing her stardom and making her one of the highest-paid actresses of the era," stated The New York Times report.
In fact, “The Blue Angel” (‘Der blaue Engel’), in which she played Lola, an amoral nightclub singer who captivates and eventually destroys an elderly teacher, was a role that “stuck” with her, explains the liner notes - to the recently re-used 20th anniversary of her passing CD - that contains Dietrich main song in The Blue Angel film, “Falling In Love Again,” which became her signature tune because “it conjures up an immediate mental picture of her on stage in a seedy club.”
Dietrich serves the U.S. during WW II
Dietrich became a U.S. citizen in 1939; while Hiter was starting the War in Europe.
In turn, to help fight back, Dietrich held a high-profile throughout World War II as (a good German); while volunteering and risking her life during frontline entertaining duty as a USO singer.
In 1999, the American Film Institute named Dietrich “the ninth greatest female star of all time.”
At the same time, Dietrich was often outspoken at a time when women were often seen and not heard. For instance, her official biography states how she was raised a Protestant, but “lost her faith due to her battlefront experiences during her time with the U.S. Army as an entertainer."
Thus, Dietrich made headlines for saying: “I lost my faith during the war and can’t believe they are all up there, flying around or sitting at tables, all those I’ve lost. If God exists, he needs to review his plan.”
Dietrich wants to be alone
While it was Greta Garbo who famously said “I want to be alone,” that sentiment was not lost on Dietrich who also was rarely seen in public after she aged and wrote about not wanting to appear in public or do any more films, as stated in her 1979 biography “My Life Story.”
At the same time, she became “increasingly reclusive as time went on,” stated Tony Watts in the liner notes for her album “Falling in Love Again.” For instance, Watts writes how “she would not even allow herself to be photographed by former co-star Maximilian Schell for a documentary he made about her in 1984 that spotlights her career as a singer and actress "beginning in 1922.”
However, Dietrich “ruled the international nightclub circuit” in the 1970s when she offered her own bit nostalgia – singing the popular “Lili Marlene,” a German song popular with both Nazi and Allied forces – and also Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” which she turned into her final international hit.
Image source of Marlene Dietrich, aged 49 (in 1951). After the publication of her autobiography “My Life Story” in 1979, Dietrich was rarely seen in public because she wanted to be remembered as she was back at the height of her career. Photo courtesy Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marlene_Dietrich