Happy Birthday Marlene Dietrich: 5 Things you should know about the famous actress

Today is Marlene Dietrich's 116th birthday and Google celebrates it with a doodle. Here's everything you need to know about the Hollywood legend of the yesteryears.


                            Happy Birthday Marlene Dietrich: 5 Things you should know about the famous actress

Today would be Hollywood’s favorite cabaret golden girl Marlene Dietrich's 116th birthday. And as the holidays pass by, Google seems to have kept things lively by paying the legend a fantastic tribute through their signature Google Doodle.

German actress Marlene Dietrich (1901 - 1992) arrives at London Airport, UK, 12th September 1971. She is booked for a solo charity performance at Drury Lane. (Photo by George Stroud/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The doodle showcases a bright blue curtain, as the letter's of Google are written from stage lights, with Marlene Dietrich posed in the middle donning a sharp blue suit, holding an old school microphone as her stunning blonde hair glistens in the lights and was created with the help of drag queen Sasha Velour. 



 1. She Was One Of the Highest Paid Actresses of Her Era

Marlene Dietrich was born Marie Magdalene Dietrich in Berlin,Germany in 1901. She combined her first and middle name and started going by Marlene by around age 11. When she was a teenager, Marlene took a shine to theater and poetry and soon learned to play the violin.

German actress Marlene Dietrich (1901 - 1992) and American actor Gary Cooper (1901 - 1961) have a drink together in a still from the 1936 romantic comedy 'Desire,' circa 1936. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

After she finished school, Marlene, who was gifted with a stunning voice, began making appearances as a chorus girl, and eventually made her film debut in 1923’s The Little Napoleon. After taking small roles on stage and on-screen throughout the 1920s, Marlene got her first big break in the movie The Blue Angel, directed by Josef von Sternberg, in 1930, which garnered international success.

Marlene Dietrich sporting her famous tuxedo and top-hat cabaret singer look. (Image Source: Pinterest)

She made her way to Hollywood and continued to make more films with von Sternberg. They worked on a total of six films between 1930 and 1935. Dietrich received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her performance in Morocco in 1930, in which she famously sported the tuxedo and top-hat look. She went on to rival the magnificent Greta Garbo to become one of the highest paid actresses of the time.

Dietrich in her breakthrough role in The Blue Angel (1930) (Image Source: Wikipedia)


2. She Flipped Femininity Upside Down

Marlene was cast as a cabaret singer in a lot of her roles including her Oscar nominated performance in Morocco. The film is best remembered for the sequence in which she performs a song dressed in a man's white tie and kisses another woman, something that was quite risqué and definitely raised a lot of eyebrows in the era.

Marlene was more than just a pretty face with a nice voice. She flipped the notion of femininity upside down in the 30’s by often wearing men’s silk suits, even off-screen, similar to her boisterous tuxedo clad characters on the big screen, making her one of the earliest fashion icons of Hollywood.

Marlene Dietrich (1901 - 1992) attends the Hollywood film premiere of 'A Star Is Born' with Turkish-born film director Elia Kazan (1909 - 2003). (Photo by Jay Scott/BIPs/Getty Images)

3. She Helped Refugees Flee From Nazi Germany

Marlene worked tirelessly to help Jews and refugees escape from Nazi Germany, even donating her entire profit from one movie to the cause.

German-born US film actress and cabaret performer Marlene Dietrich (1901 - 1992) standing on some coastal rocks. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

During two extended tours for the United Service Organizations, she performed for Allied troops in Algeria, Italy, the UK and France, even went to Germany with General George S Patton, just a few miles from the frontline. When asked in an interview as to why she did this, she replied, "out of decency!"

Dietrich and Rita Hayworth serve food to soldiers at the Hollywood Canteen. (Image Source: Wikipedia)


She received the Medal of Freedom in 1947 for her efforts during the war. She was also bestowed with the Légion d'honneur by the French government. Unfortunately, WWII also tore Marlene apart from her family — her sister and brother-in-law ran a movie theater that was frequented by Nazi officers, and although Marlene vouched for them so they could avoid prosecution, she eventually cut them from her life.

Marlene Dietrich signing a soldier's cast in Belgium (24 November 1944). (Image Source: Wikipedia)


4. She did Cabaret and performed on Broadway

Dietrich's roller coaster of a Hollywood career which peaked during the early 30's died down in the late 30's as the movies she starred in were getting expensive to make and did not perform well at the box office. So she took her most famous on-screen persona of the cabaret dancer and went wild with it! From the 1950s-1970s, she performed in theaters all over the world.

A top-hatted Marlene Dietrich (1901 - 1992) performs in a nightclub scene from the German expressionist film 'Der Blaue Engel' ('The Blue Angel'), directed by Josef Von Sternberg for UFA. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

During this time, she recorded albums of her own, as well. Marlene also performed on Broadway in the late 1960s. Aside from just being remembered as a performer and entertainer, Marlene is also known as a fashion icon and remembered for “following her own course” and not conforming to what was expected of society.

Marlene Dietrich with Louis Armstrong in Las Vegas (1962) (Image Source: Pinterest)

5. She Fought Cancer

Marlene suffered from cervical cancer in the 60's but fought it and survived. Her husband, Rudolf Sieber, who she met on the set of her 1923 film Tragodie der Liebe was not so lucky. He succumbed to cancer and passed away in 1976. Marlene had only one daughter, Maria Elisabeth Sieber with Rudolf Sieber and never re-married. 

Greta Garbo (L) and Marlene Dietrich. (Source: Pinterest)

Throughout her career, she had many affairs, some short-lived and some lasting decades, many which her husband knew about. Her string of lovers include actors Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and James Stewart and there are even rumors that she had a fleeting homosexual fling with her greatest rival of the time, Greta Garbo.

Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart. (Image Source: Pinterest)

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