I am not a myth
Marlene Dietrich was a legendary singer and one of Hollywood’s biggest stars of the 1930s and 1940s.
Born in Berlin, her career began in German cabaret, echoes of which you can hear in her famous, smokey torch song Lili Marlene, which she recorded in both German and English. She starred as a cabaret singer in her breakthrough film The Blue Angel, which brought her to the attention of Hollywood and a new career in America.
She was fiercely opposed to Hitler and the Nazis and famously said: “The Germans and I no longer speak the same language.”
She was a famous and intriguingly androgynous beauty, a sex symbol and a style icon. She was particularly noted for sharply tailored and structured couture, deemed very masculine at the time: “I am at heart a gentleman” she said.
Defining her look, she explained: “I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men.”
Garbo was also contantly reinventing her image, decades before Madonna and Lady Gaga would burst onto the music scene. In middle age the actress stepped away from the big screen and back into cabaret, commanding huge fees and drawing huge audiences to her multi-costumed, one-woman shows in theatres around the world.
In later life, she became increasingly reclusive and retired to live in Paris, where she died. According to her wish, she was buried close by to her mother in Berlin.
The city marked what would have been Marlene’s 100th birthday in 2002, by making her an honarary citizen “as an ambassador for a democratic, freedom-loving and humane Germany.”