“Always one must be so damn beautiful! It is work to be beautiful.” — Marlene Dietrich
Source: Source: Helen Louise Walker (1935)
Photographer: William Walling, Jr. (1935)
“In silent pictures it was hard for me. My nose was always something the matter with it, or my chin was wrong or my cheek or something! In talking pictures those things are not as important as they used to be.” – Marlene Dietrich
Source: Helen Ludlam (1930)
Photo: The Blue Angel (1930)
“I played whores. I never played any recommendable character.” — Marlene Dietrich
Source: Patrick McDowell (1992)
Photo: The Blue Angel (1930)
“Hollywood is very pretty, but people grow old here – not outside, but inside.” — Marlene Dietrich
Source: Allan Jordan (1930)
“It was apparent that von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich had a very close professional relationship. But it was only, in my experience, professional, without any love element. I got along with von Sternberg reasonably well, as all his direction and his instructions were given to Marlene, and the rest of us were left more or less to do as well as we could. I cannot remember that he ever told me how to play a scene.” — Gary Cooper
Photo: Morocco (1930)
“It is no strain to be called a legend because I don’t believe it. If this is someone’s opinion, I am happy and flattered but I try to live up to nothing. There is nothing I have done in my life I am particularly fond of. I have no regrets, but always one feels, you could have done it better. You might have been wiser. When I am not here, the public will quickly find someone else.” –Marlene Dietrich
Source: Margaret McManus in 1968.
Photo: Morocco (1930)
This photo has an unusual story. During Dietrich‘s first years in Hollywood, Josef von Sternberg insisted on directing her photo shoots. This 1931 photo was taken in Dietrich‘s home with von Sternberg overseeing the creative arrangement and Eugene Robert Richee taking the picture.
“Glamour is what I sell, it’s my stock in trade.” — Marlene Dietrich
“The most beautiful women are the easiest pushovers. The fact is that the most beautiful women in history always had unhappy romances. Beauty is not of prime importance to an actress, except where her role is that of a beautiful woman. And beauty alone seldom brings you things you really want…” — Marlene Dietrich
Source: Leonard Lyons (1957)
“I don’t like Hollywood. I prefer Beverly Hills, where I have my home, but even that has its limitations. They don’t build their homes in the country for comfort, any more that they do their cooking for the pleasure of eating. At home, in Berlin, the houses are so constructed that one can obtain absolute quiet if desired. There I can work all day and go home to bed knowing that I will not be disturbed by the sounds of traffic, because the walls are sufficiently thick to shut out noise. I can sleep, and often do sleep until 3 or 4 in the afternoon.” — Marlene Dietrich
“I happen to have what it takes to be a stage person and, urged by necessity, I remained in the theatre until that lucky-starred evening when Josef von Sternberg chanced to see me in a Max Reinhardt play and brought me back into pictures.” — Marlene Dietrich
“Think twice before burdening a friend with a secret.” – Marlene Dietrich
“The cool, bright face that didn’t ask for anything, that simply existed, waiting – it was an empty face, he thought; a face that could change with any wind of expression. One could dream into it anything. It was like a beautiful empty house waiting for carpets and pictures. It had all possibilities – it could become a palace or a brothel.” – taken from Erich Maria Remarque’s novel, Arch of Triumph (1945)
Because Remarque and Dietrich were once lovers, scholars believe that this passage was a thinly disguised description of her.
Photo: Eugene Richee for Shanghai Express (1932).
“I think you will agree, that certain types of women look well in masculine clothes…even better than they do in frills and laces!” — Marlene Dietrich. She also stated that her broad shoulders enabled her to pull off the look.
Source: Jean Cummings (1933)
“She has sex but no positive gender. Her masculinity appeals to women and her sexuality to men.” British Theatre critic and writer Kenneth Tynan.
The Song of Songs (1933)
“I shall never make a picture which I regard as detrimental to my career. I will withdraw from the production and allow the studio to sue me first.” – Marlene Dietrich
Source: Mollie Merrick (1932)
Photo: Scarlet Empress (1934)
“I never wear colors – just black or white for evening, gray or blonde for daytime.” — Marlene Dietrich
Source: Dorothy Roe (1957)
Source: Valentino Vamp
“I’m not proud of being a film star! I see no reason to be. Compared to important professions, this, that I am doing, is so unimportant…In pictures, stars are made overnight because of their beauty. There is a haste and a lack of dignity to film stardom. I do not mean to criticize. There are many film stars here who have great talent. I merely say that from my standpoint, I am not at all proud because I have become a film star.” — Marlene Dietrich
Source: Walter Ramsey (1934)
Photo: William Walling Jr. (1935) for The Devil Is a Woman
Alberto Vargas‘ artwork for the announced Paramount film, Hurricane, directed by Josef von Sternberg. The movie was never made.
“I am not a myth.” — Marlene Dietrich
Photo: Desire (1936)
The Garden of Allah (1936). With Charles Boyer.
“I ignore most [rumors]. What good would it do to be annoyed? That would not stop them. They are part of the game. You have to put up with them. They go on and on as long as you are worth mentioning. The only rumor that really annoys me is the one that I encourage the rumors.” — Marlene Dietrich
With Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in 1937.
“Incidentally, if you ask a cameraman, or ‘close-up’ expert, to define sex appeal, he will probably tell you that it is ‘a face with good camera angles.’ Conscious as I am of the enormous debts I owe to cameramen, I beg to differ from that definition. Sex appeal is, I think, an infinite capacity for living a joie de vivre, an enthusiasm, an eagerness for the chase, of the hunter for the hunted. In a single word, ‘Sincerity.’ ”– Marlene Dietrich
“Irene does my costumes – oh, yes, I make suggestions, but they’re really hers.” — Marlene Dietrich
Source: Robbin Coons (1940)
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Marlene Dietrich, Noel Coward and Cary Grant attending an evening of live playlets at the El Capitan Theatre (6838 Hollywood Boulevard) in 1940. The special event, entitled “Tonight at 8:30” was a fundraiser for the British Red Cross. (LAPL 00057121)
“Never in my entire life have I planned a single thing ahead. I wouldn’t want my life that way, always fighting toward something. I never even desired to be famous. Never. When I landed in pictures, I wanted good parts. That’s all. I’ve gone with the current, flexibly, without rigid aims in mind. That is not the new Dietrich talking. That is just the real Dietrich.” — Marlene Dietrich
Source: Irving Wallace (1940)
“Cast as rivals for the affections of Marlene Dietrich in the Warner Brothers film ‘Manpower,’ Hollywood’s reigning gangsters were smitten with genuine jealousy.” — Los Angeles Times in 1987
“I had top billing for the movie, but I was willing to co-star to get Marlene in the film. I was always nuts about her.” — George Raft
“His eyes were tight shut when he hit me, and Mack Grey (Raft’s bodyguard and close friend) tells me George was almost in tears.” – Marlene Dietrich talking about the hard slaps she took while making Manpower (1941).
According to biographer Stone Wallace: “George wasn’t comfortable hitting a woman, but Miss Dietrich assured him it was all right. When George let loose with his slap, he connected so hard that she tumbled down the stairwell and broke her ankle. The shot remained in the movie.” (Source: George Raft: The Man Who Would Be Bogart).
The next morning, Raft made sure that Dietrich‘s dressing room was filled with roses.
Marlene Dietrich, Bob Hope and Bette Davis standing in front of the Hollywood Hall of Honor at the Hollywood Canteen. The original building used to be a livery stable that had been converted into a nightclub called “The Old Barn” before becoming the Canteen.
This photo was taken on November 3,1943, and features a Who’s Who of entertainment professionals who entered the armed forces in WWII. (LAPL)
At the Hollywood Canteen.
“The paint would go on as soon as I arrived, which was 6:30 a.m. and would stay on until I left around 6:00 p.m. It always took one hour to apply, and twice as long to remove.” — Marlene Dietrich, discussing her gold legs in Kismet (1944).
Source: Michael Sheridan (1947)
“All the people who get to the top have talent. That’s necessary in the beginning. But to stay at the top there is something else. I think it is taking your business seriously and also keeping up with the times.” — Marlene Dietrich
Source: Joe Hyams (1957)
Photo: Kismet (1944)
Dietrich‘s wig in Kismet (1944)
Dietrich reading fan mail from American servicemen, circa August of 1945. That November, she received correspondence that her mother was dying in Berlin. The U.S. 82nd Airborne Division quickly arranged for her to travel to war-torn Germany to be at her mother’s side. But it was too late. By the time she arrived, her mother had already passed.
Did you know that all female entertainers on WWII USO tours couldn’t wear skirts or dresses with the slit above the knees? The policy was enforced so that GIs could keep their minds on their wives and sweethearts back home.
“What do people expect to see? They shouldn’t make so much of this. I don’t think most people change much in 10 years. If they would look at their old snapshots I think they’d find they seem very much the same.” — Marlene Dietrich
Source: Lydia Lane (1951)
Photo: No Highway (1951)
“The creation of Marlene Dietrich was her life’s duty. I think it’s a tragedy.” — Maria Riva, her daughter.
Source: Roger Hurlburt (1994)
Photo: Cecil Beaton
“The legs aren’t so beautiful. I just know what to do with them.” – Marlene Dietrich
Photo by Milton Greene.
“I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men.” — Marlene Dietrich
Photo: 1954 (at Idlewild Airport in New York)
“This country is wonderful but it has a youth complex, darling, and a complex is not healthy. The women are not responsible for it alone — the whole country is. Everybody worships youth.” — Marlene Dietrich
Artist: Al Hirschfeld
Year: 1975. Artist: Pola Welebit. Oil on canvas, 10″ x 8.”
Artist: Ron Kron. Year: late 1970s (?). A papier-mâché doll, measuring 32.5 inches in height.
Kron was a Minnesota-based puppeteer who became a celebrity doll maker in the late 1970s. He’s dead now, so his creations are collector’s items.