Marlene Dietrich

The Blue Angel

Maria Magdelene Dietrich was born on 27th December 1901 in the Schöneberg district of Berlin.

She was the second daughter of Louis Dietrich, a police lieutenant, and Wilhelmina Felsing, the daughter of a well-to-do Berlin family. Her sister Elisabeth was a year her senior. Their father died when she was ten and, five years later, in 1916, their mother married Grenadier Lieutenant Eduard von Losch. He was then killed in the First World War.

Maria initially enrolled in the Berlin School of Music with dreams of becoming a concert violinist but an injury to her wrist soon put paid to that. After a failed first audition at Max Rheinhardt’s acting school, and a job as a chorus girl in a touring revue, she applied again and joined the school in 1921 as Marlene Dietrich.

Marlene Dietrich, 1924

She made her film debut in 1922 and later that year met and married the young film director Rudolf Sieber. In 1924 they had a daughter, Maria.

It was in 1929 during her performances in the Mischa Spoliansky revue It’s In The Air and Georg Kaiser’s Two Neckties that she was spotted by the American director Josef Von Sternberg and cast in The Blue Angel. The film was groundbreaking in many ways, not least the fact that it was simultaneously filmed in German and English.

On the day The Blue Angel opened in Berlin in 1930, Marlene was due to leave for Hollywood to begin her contract with Paramount. She attended the opening at The Gloria Palast on the Ku’Damm, took a bow at the end to thunderous applause and caught the train out of Berlin.