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- Gallery: Extensive archive of images now online
- Film Posters: Numerous Marlene repro film posters
- Name: Marlene Dietrich
- Real Name: Marie Magdelene Dietrich von Losch
- Nickname: Lili Marlene
- Profession: Actor, Singer
- Date of Birth: 27 December 1901
- Place of Birth: Schöneberg, Germany
- Height: 5' 5" (1.65 m)
Rudolf Sieber (17 May 1924 - 24 June 1976) (his death)
- Children: 1 daughter, Maria Riva
- Died: 6 May 1992
- Place of Death: Paris, France. (kidney failure)
f e b r u a r y 1 9 7 8
Just a Gigolo Region 2 UK & Europe Dvd
Few people in or out of the film industry found it easy to believe producer Joshua Sinclair when he announced to the press, late in 1977, that Marlene Dietrich was about to break her retirement and self-imposed isolation within her Paris apartment. She had, Sinclair continued, agreed to appear on screen in her first speaking role in eighteen years, in the German-English film Just a Gigolo, with rock star David Bowie. Lonely for precisely the human contact she paradoxically but insistently rejected, she also found irresistible a salary of $250,000 for two half-days of work in a Paris studio, where the sets for her scene were transported from Berlin.
On a bitterly cold morning in February 1978, she arrived on time for work, 'her jaw set and her shoulders hunched with determination,' as an eyewitness recalled. Dietrich walked slowly, unsteadily, because of her failing eyesight, clinging constantly to the arm of make-up artist Anthony Clavet. She looked, quite simply, like a wizened old lady.
Two hours later, her make-up painstakingly applied, she emerged from a makeshift dressing room wearing a costume of her own design: a wide-brimmed black hat with a delicate but strategically concealing veil, shiny black boots, white gloves and a black skirt and jacket - everything just right for her brief appearance as the Baroness von Semering, manager of a ring of Berlin gigolos just after the First World War. Director David Hemmings, producer Sinclair and a small crew awaited, and in a few moments one of her two brief scenes were easily photographed.
Next morning, Dietrich returned for the more difficult second task - to sing the film's title song, which was to be heard near the end of the picture. 'I will sing one chorus of that horrible old German song in two seconds flat,' she told Hemmings and Sinclair. Everyone stood by nervously, for it was uncertain she had the strangth or the breat to fulfil the promise.
But an astonishing transformation then occurred, attested by all who were present in the studio that wintry day. First she was photographed in close-up, the hat and veil deliberately almost hiding her eyes as she stood to one side of the set, an empty hotel dining room. Then she walked - cautiously but unaided - towards pianist Raymond Bernard, and standing proudly, she began to sing. Far from offering the perfunctory delivery of a song she disliked, Marlene Dietrich sang with heart-rending simplicity:
Just a gigolo: everywhere I go
People know the part I'm playing
Paid for every dance, selling each romance
Every night some heart betraying.
There will come a day youth will pass away,
Then what will they say about me?
When the end comes, I know,
They'll say 'Just a gigolo,'
And life goes on without me
Nothing she had done on stage or screen over a period of sixty years could have prepared witnesses that day (or viewers of Just a Gigolo since then) for her astonishing rendition of this simple confessional songs. On the words 'youth will pass away,' there may be heard a tremor of sadness in her voice that was without precedent in any prior recording or theatrical appearance - a moment of exquisite pathos too genuine to have been concorted from the usual counterfeit emotion.
And when she came to 'life goes on', the voice became plangent, almost a whisper as she managed, to poignant effect, an octave. In only one take, the scene and the song were captured for ever. There was a moment of reverential silence round her, and then the bystanders broke into applause; many of those who knew her films, recordings and live stage appearances could be seen brushing away tears.
Unable to se them across the bright studio lights, Marlene Dietrich, in her seventy-seventh year, nodded and found her way back to the cramped dressing room. An hour later she was alone again, back at her apartment on the fashionable Avenue Montaigne, just opposite the grand Plaza-Athenee Hotel. Except for a very few visits to doctors and hospitals, she never again left this residence.
h e r l i f e a n d a r t : o v e r v i e w
'A strange combination of the femme fatale, the German Hausfrau and Florence Nightinglae' is how the film director Billy Wilder summed up this extraoridinary woman.
Born in Schöneberg, Germany (a small town just outside Berlin) in 1901, the daughter of a Prussian police officer, she grew up in a atmosphere of privilege and German-Victorian rectitude before plunging, as a young actress, into the hectic, sexually liberated (and sexually ambiguous) world of 1920s Berlin. When she was cast by Josef von Sternberg in The Blue Angel in 1929 the major influences on her life and career were in place.
With the success of this film, von Sternberg immediately took her to Hollywood, introducing her to the world in Morocco (1930), and signing an agreement to produce all her films. A series of successes followed, and Marlene became the highest paid actress of her time, but her later films in the mid part of the decade were critical and popular failures.
Dietrich's name evokes the quintessence of feminine enchantment, her picture remains the 20th Century's great icon of cosmopolitan glamour and elegant sexual allure, yet she persistently denied any similarity between her public image and her private self. In forty years as a film actress she seduced, and was seduced by, the camera. When her film career faltered she created a new role for herself which led to a remarkable contribution to the Allied effort in the Second World War (she had become a United States citizen on March 6, 1937).
In later years she revived almost single-handed the European nightclub-caberet tradition as a singer and performer, with reviews and shows also in Las Vegas, touring theatricals, and even on Broadway. Falls in performance eventually resulted in a compound fracture of the leg and the end of this part of her career.
Her marriage to Rudolf Sieber, never dissolved, was completely open. Her male lovers included John Wayne, Jean Gabin, Maurice Chevalier and Generals Patton and Gavin. Her lesbian love affairs were if anything mre intense on her part. Her life at every stage was more dramatic, more unpredictable and more colourful than any Hollywood scenarist could invent. Short in stature, less than outstanding as an actress and a singer, she nonetheless established an image and a legend which made her one of the most sought-after women of our age.
Although the last 13 years of her life were spent in seclusion in her apartment in Paris, with the last 12 years in bed, she had withdrawn only from public life and maintained active telephone and correspondence contact with friends and associates.
Marlene died on May 6, 1992 in Paris, France of natural causes at the age of 90.
[ m a r l e n e d i e t r i c h t r i v i a ]
- Ten years after her death, Berlin - the city of Dietrich's birth which she shunned for most of her life - declared her an honorary citizen. On April 18, 2002, the city's legislature bestowed honor on her as "an ambassador for a democratic, freedom-loving and humane Germany." The declaration hoped this "would symbolize the city of Berlin's reconciliation with her."
- Interred at Friedhof III, Berlin-Friedenau, Germany.
- Billy Wilder on Marlene Dietrich in later life: On a telephone conversation - 'We were in Paris in 1987 and after pretending to be her own masseuse or a cook, she admitted it was herself. At first Marlene had agreed to see my wife and me. We offered to take her out to dinner, or to bring food to her apartment - anything that would please her. But then she changed her mind, saying that she had to go to an eye doctor. It was obvious she just didn't want to see anyone. Or anyone to see her.'
- Marlene Dietrich & David Bowie: Dietrich & her co-star in the 1979 movie Just a Gigolo, Bowie, never actually met. Scenes together were shot separately as Dietrich had to be shot in Paris and Bowie was on a world tour at that time. Bowie would later refer to Just a Gigolo as 'all my Elvis Presley movies rolled into one".
- Marlene Dietrich on Jean Gabin: 'A magnificent actor without knowing the tools of the trade. Rough outside - tender inside. Easy to love!'
- Marlene Dietrich on Germany: 'The tears I have cried over Germany have dried. I have washed my face.'
Marlene Dietrich on Judy Garland's death in 1969: 'There was someone who wanted to die, so I was glad for her'.
- Burt Bacharach, Dietrich's lover, musical arranger & conductor in the 1960s. In 1965 he had left Dietrich to marry actress Angie Dickinson and to proceed elsewhere with his career. For Dietrich, his departure hit her hard. She wrote:
'When he became famous he could no longer accompany me on tour round the world...From that fateful day on, I have worked like a robot, trying to recapture the wonderful woman he helped make out of me...I thought of him, always longed for him, always looked for him in the wings, and always fought against self-pity...When he left me, I felt like giving everything up...I was wounded. Our seperation broke my heart.'
- Marlene Dietrich on Emil Jannings, her co-star in The Blue Angel. 'What a ham!'
- Marlene Dietrich on her old films: 'I'm not at all interested. Do you think I'd go and sit in some stuffy cinema and watch movies?'
- Marlene Dietrich on Josef von Sternberg: 'He was always forcing me to think, to use my brain and learn something when I was working - not merely to do what I was told.'
- Marlene Dietrich on God and the afterlife: 'I don't believe in a superior power. Once you're dead, that's it - it's all over!"
Exciting news: numerous Marlene Dietrich reproduction film posters at affordable prices!
[ m a r l e n e d i e t r i c h f i l m o g r a p h y ]
- Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo (1979) .... Baroness von Semering
... aka Just a Gigolo (1979) (USA)
- Paris - When It Sizzles (1964) (uncredited) .... Cameo appearance
... aka Together in Paris (1964) (USA)
- Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) .... Madame Bertholt
... aka Judgement at Nuremberg (1961)
- Touch of Evil (1958) .... Tanya
- Witness for the Prosecution (1957) .... Christine Helm Vole
- Montecarlo (1956) .... Maria de Crevecouer
... aka Monte Carlo (1958) (USA)
... aka Monte Carlo Story, The (1958) (USA)
- Around the World in Eighty Days (1956) .... Saloon Hostess
- Rancho Notorious (1952) .... Altar Keane
- No Highway (1951) .... Monica Teasdale
... aka No Highway in the Sky (1951) (USA)
- Stage Fright (1950) .... Charlotte Inwood
- Jigsaw (1949) (uncredited) .... Cameo appearance (nightclub patron)
... aka Gun Moll (1949) (USA: reissue title)
- Foreign Affair, A (1948) .... Erika von Schlütow
- Golden Earrings (1947) .... Lydia
- Martin Roumagnac (1946) .... Blanche Ferrand
... aka Room Upstairs, The (1946) (USA)
- Kismet (1944) .... Jamilla
... aka Oriental Dream (1944) (USA: reissue title)
- Pittsburgh (1942) .... Josie 'Hunky' Winters
- Spoilers, The (1942) .... Cherry Malotte
- Lady Is Willing, The (1942) .... Elizabeth Madden
- Manpower (1941) .... Fay Duval
- Flame of New Orleans, The (1941) .... Countess Claire Ledoux, aka Lili
- Seven Sinners (1940) .... Bijou Blanche
... aka Cafe of the Seven Sinners (1940)
- Destry Rides Again (1939) .... Frenchy
- Angel (1937) .... Maria 'Angel' Barker, aka Mrs. Brown
- Knight Without Armour (1937) .... Alexandra
... aka Knight Without Armor (1937) (USA)
- I Loved a Soldier (1936) .... Anna Sedlak
... aka Hotel Imperial (1936) (USA)
- Garden of Allah, The (1936) .... Domini Enfilden
- Desire (1936) .... 'Countess' Madeleine de Beaupre, aka Madame Maurice Pauquet
... aka Pearl Necklace, The (1936)
- Devil Is a Woman, The (1935) .... Concha Perez
- Scarlet Empress, The (1934) .... Princess Sophia Frederica/Catherine II
- Song of Songs, The (1933) .... Lily Czepanek
- Blonde Venus (1932) .... Helen Faraday, aka Helen Jones
- Shanghai Express (1932) .... Shanghai Lily, aka Magdalen
- Dishonored (1931) .... Marie Kolverer/X27
- Morocco (1930) .... Mademoiselle Amy Jolly
- Blaue Engel, Der (1930) .... Lola Lola
... aka Blue Angel, The (1930) (USA)
- Frau, nach der man sich sehnt, Die (1929) .... Stascha
... aka Three Loves (1929)
... aka Woman Men Yearn For, The (1929)
... aka Woman One Longs for, The (1929) (USA)
- Gefahren der Brautzeit (1929) .... Evelyne
... aka Dangers of the Engagement (1929) (USA)
... aka Dangers of the Engagement Period (1929) (International: English title)
... aka Liebesnächte (1929) (Germany)
... aka Nights of Love (1929) (USA)
- Schiff der verlorenen Menschen, Das (1929) .... Ethel Marley
... aka Grischa the Cook (1929)
... aka Navire des hommes perdus, Le (1929) (France)
... aka Ship of Lost Men, The (1929)
- Ich küsse Ihre Hand, Madame (1929) .... Laurence Gerard
... aka I Kiss Your Hand Madame (1932) (USA)
- Prinzessin Olala (1928) .... Chichotte de Gastoné
... aka Art of Love (1928) (USA)
... aka Princess Olala (1928)
- Sein größter Bluff (1927) .... Yvette
... aka Big Bluff, The (1927)
... aka His Biggest Bluff (1927) (UK)
... aka His Greatest Bluff (1927) (International: English title)
- Café Elektric (1927) .... Erni Göttlinger
... aka Cafe Electric (1927) (International: English title)
... aka Wenn ein Weib den Weg verliert (1927)
- Dubarry von heute, Eine (1927) .... Kokotte
... aka Modern Dubarry, A (1927)
- Juxbaron, Der (1926) .... Sophie, ihre Tochter
... aka Imaginary Baron, The (1926) (International: English title)
- Kopf hoch, Charly! (1926) .... Edmée Marchand
... aka Heads Up, Charley (1926) (International: English title)
- Manon Lescaut (1926) .... Micheline
- Madame wünscht keine Kinder (1926) (uncredited) .... Dancer
... aka Madame Doesn't Want Children (1926) (USA)
... aka Madame Wants No Children (1926)
- Tänzer meiner Frau, Der (1925) .... Dance extra
... aka Dance Fever (1925) (USA)
... aka Dancing Mad (1925)
- Mönch von Santaren, Der (1924)
... aka Monk from Santarem, The (1924) (UK)
- Sprung ins Leben, Der (1923) .... Mädchen am Strand
... aka Leap Into Life (1923) (UK)
... aka Roman eines Zirkuskindes, Der (1923) (Germany: alternative title)
- Tragödie der Liebe (1923) .... Lucy
... aka Love Tragedy (1923) (USA)
... aka Tragedy of Love, The (1923) (USA)
- Mensch am Wege, Der (1923) .... Krämerstochter
... aka Man by the Roadside (1923) (USA)
... aka Man by the Wayside (1923) (UK)
... aka People Along the Way (1923) (International: English title)
... aka What Man Lives By (1923) (Australia)
- So sind die Männer (1922) .... Kathrin
... aka Kleine Napoleon, Der (1922) (Germany: alternative title)
... aka Little Napoleon, The (1922) (International: English title)
... aka Napoleons kleiner Bruder (1922) (Germany: alternative title)
- Im Schatten des Glücks (1919)
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