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Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992)
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Leading Ladies of the 30's

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Marie Magdelene Dietrich von Losch (aka Marlene) was born in Berlin, Germany on December 27, 1901. Her father was an army officer who had served in the Franco-Prussian War. Because of his constant absences from the family due to his army duties, Marlene and the rest had to rely on themselves. When he was died, while she was 11, Marlene's 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. Acting was to be her vocation. In 1921, Marlene applied for an acting school run by Max Reinhardt. She was accepted. She appeared in several stage production, but never had more than a couple of spoken lines. In short, she wasn't setting the stage world on fire. She attempted films for the first time in 1922 Her first film was NAPOLEON'S YOUNGER BROTHER which was followed by TRAGEDY OF LOVE. 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 that whole time. The remainder of her early film career was generally filled with bit roles that never amounted to a whole lot. After being seen in the German production of BLUE ANGEL in 1930, Marlene was given a crack at Hollywood. Her first US film was MOROCCO with Gary Cooper later that year followed by DISHONORED in 1931. This latter movie had her cast as a street walker who is appointed a spy. The film was a rather boring affair but was a success because of Marlene's presence. Movie goers were simply attracted to her. In 1932, Marlene filmed SHANGHAI EXPRESS which proved to be immensely popular raking in $3 million. Once again she was cast as a prostitute. The next film was BLONDE VENUS which turned out to be a horrible production. Her co-star was Cary Grant and once again she was cast as a prostitute. Marlene seemed to be typecast as a woman of low morals and she wanted different parts. Some films such as DESIRE in 1936 didn't do that but she wanted to expand. Her chance came in 1939 in DESTRY RIDES AGAIN when 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 1940's she appeared in well produced, well directed films such as MANPOWER, THE SPOILERS, THE LADY IS WILLING, and PITTSBURGH all in 1942. Afterwards the roles came fewer, perhaps one to two films every year. In 1945, Marlene didn't appear in any. 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.


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