1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1960s, Fashion, Musical, Silent Era

Lili Marlene

I am at heart, a gentleman

Marlene Dietrich, 20th century film and fashion icon most famously known for her provocative, often-times androgynous film roles. She remained enormously popular throughout her long career by continually re-inventing herself.:

Marlene Dietrich the Berlin born actress is remembered for many things one being her trademark suits and how she would wear masculine clothing of course this is nothing new the fashion began in the 1920’s that some young women pushed aside the tradition of wearing a dress simply because they were a woman and Marlene fully embraced this, one could argue if we were to give her a modern label that she was almost gender fluid.


Marlene Dietrich as the cabaret singer Amy Jolly in the film Morocco (1930):

Openly bisexual Marlene married Rudolf Sieber on May 17th 1926 he was a Bohemia born assistant director their marriage would last until his death in 1976 but after five years of marriage and one daughter together the couple split, she never remarried but did conduct affairs with both men and women by her own admission we can assume that she actually preferred women to men but I also assume that Marlene wouldn’t have labelled herself as Lesbian or even Bi.

Sex is much better with a woman, but then one can’t live with a woman!

Damn, but Dietrich had style... Cross-dressing with effortless panache, leaving a trail of guys and gals panting in her wake.:

She became pregnant in 1938 as a result of an affair with James Stewart during the filming of Destry Rides Again (1939) but she underwent an abortion. Stewart did not even know she was pregnant another of her acting conquests was Gary Cooper, despite the constant presence on the set of the temperamental Mexican actress Lupe Vélez, with whom Cooper was having a romance. Vélez once said: “If I had the opportunity to do so, I would tear out Marlene Dietrich’s eyes.”.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 also had an affair with the Cuban-American writer Mercedes de Acosta, who was Greta Garbo’s periodic lover. Her last great passion, when Dietrich was in her 50s, appears to have been for the actor Yul Brynner, with whom she had an affair that lasted more than a decade; still, her love life continued well into her 70s. She counted George Bernard Shaw, John F. Kennedy and John Wayne among her conquests. Dietrich maintained her husband and his mistress first in Europe and later on a ranch in San Fernando Valley, California.

Marlene Dietrich:

Gary Cooper was neither intelligent nor cultured. Just like the other actors, he was chosen for his physique, which, after all, was more important than an active brain.

Dietrich on her one time lover Gary Cooper

Marlene Dietrich: Effortlessly blended glamour and menswear in a time when women rarely wore pants. #benefitglam:

From the early 1950s until the mid-1970s, Dietrich worked almost exclusively as a highly paid cabaret artist, performing live in large theatres in major cities worldwide.

In 1953, Dietrich was offered a then-substantial $30,000 per week to appear live at the Sahara Hotel  on the Las Vegas Strip. The show was short, consisting only of a few songs associated with her. Her daringly sheer “nude dress”—a heavily beaded evening gown of silk soufflé, which gave the illusion of transparency—designed by Jean Louis, attracted a lot of publicity. This engagement was so successful that she was signed to appear at the Café de Paris in London the following year; her Las Vegas contracts were also renewed.

Marlene Dietrich: another iconic tomboy of yesteryear--when this was much harder to get away with.:

he would often perform the first part of her show in one of her body-hugging dresses and a swansdown coat, and change to top hat and tails for the second half of the performance. This allowed her to sing songs usually associated with male singers, like “One for My Baby” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face”.

“She … transcends her material,” according to Peter Bogdanovich. “Whether it’s a flighty old tune like ‘I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby’ … a schmaltzy German love song, ‘Das Lied ist Aus’ or a French one ‘La Vie en Rose’, she lends each an air of the aristocrat, yet she never patronises … A folk song, ‘Go ‘Way From My Window’ has never been sung with such passion, and in her hands ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone?’ is not just another anti-war lament but a tragic accusation against us all.”

Francis Wyndham offered a more critical appraisal of the phenomenon of Dietrich in concert. He wrote in 1964: “What she does is neither difficult nor diverting, but the fact that she does it at all fills the onlookers with wonder … It takes two to make a conjuring trick: the illusionist’s sleight of hand and the stooge’s desire to be deceived. To these necessary elements (her own technical competence and her audience’s sentimentality) Marlene Dietrich adds a third—the mysterious force of her belief in her own magic. Those who find themselves unable to share this belief tend to blame themselves rather than her.”

Marlena Dietrich:

Marlene Dietrich with her husband, Rudolf Sieber, at a train station in Paris. Both arrived from Hollywood, May 20th, 1930: gdfalksen.com:

[after returning to West Germany in 1960] The Germans and I no longer speak the same language.

MARLENE DIETRICH "You can bet your life the man's in the navy" Seven Sinners 1940. Directed by Tay Garnett. From a 2001 Marlene Dietrich German calendar. (follow minkshmink on pinterest):

I have a child and I have made a few people happy. That is all.

Dietrich in Disguise:


Dietrich was made an honorary citizen of Berlin on 16 May 2002. Translated from German, her memorial plaque reads

Berlin Memorial Plaque

“Tell me, where have all the flowers gone”
Marlene Dietrich
27 December 1901 – 6 May 1992
Actress and Singer
She was one of the few German actresses that attained international significance.
Despite tempting offers by the Nazi regime, she emigrated to the USA and became an American citizen.
In 2002, the city of Berlin posthumously made her an honorary citizen.

“I am, thank God, a Berliner.”

Marlene Dietrich wearing white tail and top hat at ball for foreign press, photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt, Berlin, Germany, 1929: