|Portrait taken by Lilou - Galerie des Lebens|
In the 1920s in Berlin, Dietrich acted on the stage and in silent films. Her performance as Lola-Lola in The Blue Angel (1930) brought her international fame and resulted in a contract with Paramount Pictures. Dietrich starred in Hollywood films such as Morocco (1930), Shanghai Express (1932), and Desire (1936). She successfully traded on her glamorous persona and "exotic" looks, and became one of the highest-paid actresses of the era. Throughout World War II, she was a high-profile entertainer in the United States. Although she still made occasional films after the war, Dietrich spent most of the 1950s to the 1970s touring the world as a marquee live-show performer.
Dietrich was noted for her humanitarian efforts during the war, housing German and French exiles, providing financial support and even advocating their US citizenship. For her work on improving morale on the front lines during the war, she received several honors from the United States, France, Belgium, and Israel. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Dietrich the ninth-greatest female star of classic Hollywood cinema
This vinterview comes from an interview that Louella Parsons conducted on her CBS radio show, Sunkist Musical Cocktails on 20 May 1931.
My name is not a difficult name to pronounce, it is an old Latin one (meaning "winner") and home in many languages, which is wonderful - it makes it easier to get in contact with other people when they understand your name at once! And I love hearing my name pronounced in English. I guess my mum - an English teacher - also had Queen Victoria in mind when making her decision.
Well, one day, Marlene Dietrich -- how do you like my German accent? -- I hope to be able to speak German as well as you speak English. Where did yo learn your English?
German is a really difficult language to learn as a foreign one! I learned English at school, in Germany we start learning English in the first school years already. I also went to Leeds to study there, but unfortunately not much of the beautiful British accent remained in my pronunciation.
Though many foreigners say German sounds very harsh, to me it is one of the most beautiful and manifold languages. And words like Wanderlust, Zeitgeist or Doppelgänger are also being used in English, right? How wonderful!
And very sensible. I think our American children should have better training in languages. By the way, were you ever outside of Germany and Austria before?
I think everybody should learn foreign languages. It is a way to show respect to other countries - it is not only learning vocabulary, it is also learning about a country's culture and life. I have been outside Germany a couple of times, especially I love Great Britain and Scandinavia. I am not a heat and summer person, so I am fond of visiting the north of Europe.
I also learned French at school, but have not seen any part of France but Paris yet. I just read a crime novel based in the Provence and I am sure this would be such a wonderful place to travel!
Well, that’s very interesting news to me just as I am sure it must be to all those listening today. I am surprised to find that you speak French and English without a German accent since your environment was so essentially German.
Oh I wish I would, but I guess I will never speak French without a German accent. German and French are so contrary. But I would really like to practice a bit more to speak fluently, it is such a beautiful, sensitive and poetic language!
I have heard you sing on the screen and, of course, I’ve listened to your phonograph records, but tell me -- do you play any musical instruments ?
What amazing skills I seem to have! Unfortunately I am not talented in playing instruments at all. I have tried a couple of times to learn playing the guitar and bass guitar, but haven't improved for years, so I decided it is better to concentrate on other things (for me and my environment)... :))
I know everyone will want to know why you happened to become an actress.
Ahh so you seem to have found out that I once played a snowflake in primary school! Well I guess I wanted to try something new and it was more exciting than learning the multiplication table.
I wonder if you know how anxious we were to see you when we heard that Josef von Sternberg was bringing you to America? At that time most foreign actresses were on the wane. Among all the stars whose pictures you’ve seen since you've come to America, which is your favorite?
Old Hollywood had so many amazing actors, how difficult to pick a single name. I would like to stick to strong women and choose Katharine Hepburn, who absolutely deserved the fours Oscars she won, I am sure she will still be an idol and role model in many decades to come.
It must be a case of mutual admiration because Miss Garbo has told her friends that your records are her favorites. You two girls dress in a similar manner. The mannish clothes that you wear are the same type I’ve often seen Miss Garbo wearing at luncheon.
Greta Garbo is a style icon and unique in her own way. She looks gorgeous in her garments and we should stick together and show women that every style is possible - as long as they feel beautiful in it.
Returning to the subject of your success in America at the time when other European players were on the wane -- your success must be a source of great gratification to you?
Of course success is a result of motivation, believe and hard work, but also always needs an essence of luck and good constellations. And I could not do everything I do without the help of others. Summing up all of these aspects, there is big joy in the end - when things work out the way they were planned. But I feel like I am still having a long path to go until I can say I am really successful in what I am doing.
There's one question I want to ask you. I have heard it said many times that you don’t like Hollywood and that you are very homesick.
Hollywood is an extremely superficial place. As well as the internet, Instagram and co. People need these places to dream, live in different worlds and create their own ones, just like I do it with my vintage photos and looks. Of course I am always making sure the photographers I work with do not change my face or make me look like a perfect supermodel. I want people to say that I am the same person in real life as on the internet. Still there is so much makeup and photoshop everyone works with - whether in Hollywood or at photoshoots. Also people can create themselves and their reputation very easily - in contrary to who they really are as a private person. So I do not reject Hollywood, I only think one should be careful.
To the second part of the question - I really get homesick very easily and fast. Especially since having our two Bengal cats. Home is where your cat is! <3
You must have seen Charlie Chaplin recently when he made his tour through Germany and England. I am curious to know how the German people received him. Did they like him?
What a lucky person I am to have met Charlie Chaplin! I hope I took a selfie with him or got an autograph for the family album.
Yes people in Germany really like Charlie Chaplin. In my home town in Leipzig there was an open air cinema yesterday. They played some of his movies, which were accompanied by live music. I definitely want to go there next time as well. I love that people still admire the tradition of silent movies.
I don't know whether you know it or not, but I talked to Mr. von Sternberg because I wanted to get something about your personality before we talked on the radio. He told me that, for one thing, he is lucky if you say three words in a whole conversation.
Actually I am more a reserved and distant person when talking to someone for the first time. This is not because I want to be rude, it is just because I am a bit introvert. I am more the one who listens than the one who speaks.
Among other things, Mr. von Sternberg told me that it was you who found the book Morocco for him. He also said you are intensely interested in the camera and the technical side of motion pictures.
I really am! I would love to learn a bit more about filming. I was asked a couple of times whether I would like to make some youtube tutorials on my styling routine. Actually I am thinking about doing this.
I’m going to ask you a question that’s a little prosaic when applied to a glamorous being like yourself. If you don’t want to answer out loud just whisper in my ear. Is it true you like to cook ?
I do, if it doesn't take too much time and is not too difficult. :)
Won’t you tell us something about your little daughter? Is she learning to speak English?
I am sure cats meow in a universal language, so Nahla does not have to learn English.
How old is your little daughter and does she look like you? I realize, Miss Dietrich, these are very personal questions, but I know the people listening in who admire you are interested in her.
Nahla is two years old. She is the most beautiful cat in the world and has big blue eyes, the same colour like mine. And her fur is so soft, you can hardly imagine!
Do you find it easy to combine the duties of motherhood with those of being a successful actress?
I don't know, I have never been a successful actress. :))
Do you think little Maria will be an actress or a musician?
Oh you meant Nahla? She is an amazing cat model! Apart of this, she simply loves to eat, cuddle and enjoy life. She does not have to work, we do it for her.