It was on Friday 27th December 1901 in Schoneberg, a suburb of Berlin, that one Marie Magdalene Dietrich was born – the product of a privileged and conservative family, and a fact that she seemingly failed to acknowledge throughout her life.
One indication of this starts early as her name ‘changes.
It is now Marlene Dietrich.
Over the years details of her personal life appear to change with every biography written about her; every studio press release and; every word she spoke. Marlene was creating a legend, and the errors that abounded about her only served to deepen the mystery and to encourage and expand the enigma. It has been said that far less is actually known for certain about Marlene than is known about her far more reclusive contemporary Greta Garbo, the Swedish-born American film actress during the 1920s and 1930s.
Film director Billy Wilder described Marlene as ‘A strange combination of the femme fatale, the German Hausfrau and Florence Nightingale’.
When all aspects are considered, she has been described as a ‘quintessentially the embodiment of erotic sophistication, cosmopolitan glamour and warm, maternal sexuality’.
So – what is my view on the Marlene Dietrich story? That’s a very good question and – if all goes well – it may take us the whole of 2018 to discover it!