Marlene Dietrich was a German-born American actress and singer.
Dietrich remained popular throughout her long career by continually re-inventing herself. In 1920s Berlin, she acted on the stage and in silent films. Her performance as Lola-Lola in The Blue Angel, directed by Josef von Sternberg, brought her international fame and a contract with Paramount Pictures in the USA. Hollywood films such as Shanghai Express and Desire capitalised on her glamour and exotic looks, cementing her stardom and making her one of the highest paid actresses of the era. Dietrich became a US citizen in 1939; during World War II, she was a high-profile frontline entertainer. Although she still made occasional films in the post-war years, Dietrich spent most of the 1950s to the 1970s touring the world as a successful show performer.
In 1999 the American Film Institute named Dietrich the ninth greatest female star of all time.
Unlike her professional celebrity, which was carefully crafted and maintained, Dietrich's personal life was kept out of public view. A bisexual, she enjoyed the thriving gay scene of the time and drag balls of 1920s Berlin.
She married once, to assistant director Rudolf Sieber, a Roman Catholic who later became an assistant director at Paramount Pictures in France, responsible for foreign language dubbing.
Dietrich's only child, Maria Elisabeth Sieber, was born in Berlin on 13 December 1924. She would later become an actress, primarily working in television, known as Maria Riva. When Maria gave birth to a son in 1948, Dietrich was dubbed "the world's most glamorous grandmother". After Dietrich's death, Riva published a frank biography of her mother.
In 1938, Dietrich met and began a relationship with the writer Erich Maria Remarque, and in 1941, the French actor and military hero Jean Gabin. Their relationship ended in the mid-1940s. She was also known to have had an affair with the Cuban-American writer Mercedes de Acosta, who also had affairs with Greta Garbo, according to de Acosta's autobiography Here Lies the Heart (1960). Dietrich's husband and his mistress, both of whom she stayed in touch with, lived on a small ranch in the San Fernando Valley, California.
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