Research Essay on German Actress and Singer Marlene Dietrich

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  • For my German Weimar Republic Essay, I have decided to research German Actress and Singer Marlene Dietrich. I chose to study Dietrich because I was amazed by how much her career spanned and how she built up a reputation for herself that made her one of the most famous German Actresses of her generation. In my essay, I will cover Marlene’s life and work, the films and plays that she starred in and a bit on her legacy.

In this paragraph, I was cover Marlene’s life and work. Marlene Dietrich is a well-known Actress and Singer, born in Berlin, Germany to Wilhelmina Elisabeth Josephine and Louis Erich Otto Dietrich on the 27th of December 1901. Her mother was from a rich and wealthy Berlin family. She owned a jewellery and clock making firm. Her father Louis was a police lieutenant with the German Polizei. Dietrich had only one sister Elisabeth, who was a year older than her. When she was six years old in 1907, her father died. She had many nicknames which her family used to call her. She was nicknamed as, “Lena” and “Lene”. When she was 11, she combined her two first names to form the name “Marlene”. Between 1907 to 1917, she attended the Auguste-Viktoria Girls’ School. In 1918, she graduated from Victoria Luise Schule in Berlin-Wilmersdorf. At school, she studied the violin. There she also became interested in theatre and poetry. In 1919, a wrist injury put an end to her dreams of becoming a concert violinist. However, by 1922, she landed her first job. As part of silent films at a Berlin cinema, she played the violin as part of a pit orchestra. But unfortunately for Dietrich, she was fired only four weeks into the job. During World War II, she became a high-profile entertainer in the United States. While there, she took part in humanitarian efforts to help in the war effort. One of her tasks was providing housing for German and French exiles.

In this paragraph, I will deal with Dietrich’s career on stage and screen. During her career, she starred in many films and stage productions. Her career started in 1923 when she starred in The Little Napoleon. On stage, she had roles in many stage productions including Pandora’s Box by Frank Wedekind. She also starred in The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw’s Back to Methuselah. It was her performance as Lola-Lola in The Blue Angel in 1930 which brought her to actual prominence. A contract with Paramount Pictures kicked off her career on the big screen. She starred in many Hollywood films such as Morocco in 1930, Shanghai Express in 1932 and Desire in 1936. She also starred in The Devil is a Woman in 1935, and I loved a Solider in 1936 and Followed the Boys in 1936 among others. She won and was nominated for many awards including for film Morocco in 1932 and for Judgement in Nuremberg in 1962.

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In this paragraph, I will discuss Dietrich’s legacy. Dietrich was well respected and admired during her career on stage and screen. She was seen as an icon to many fashion designers and screen stars. In 1992 a plaque was unveiled in her honour after her death in 1991 at the site of Dietrich’s birth. The German Astronomer Karl Reinmuth discovered ‘The main-belt asteroid’ in 1923, and this was named after Marlene in her honour. The asteroid today rests in Heidelburg Observatory. In 1996, it was decided not to name a street after her in Berlin-Schöneberg, her birthplace. She is referenced in a number of popular 20th century songs, including Rodgers and Hart’s ‘The Most Beautiful Girl in the World’ in 1935 , Peter Sarstedt’s ‘Where Do You Go To, My Lovely?’ in 1969 and , Suzanne Vega’s ‘Marlene On the Wall’ in 1985, and Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ in 1990.

In conclusion, I think Dietrich lived up to be one of the most famous actors of her generation because of her appearance in silent and sound films and her presentations on stage that made her very brilliant and also very honourable but controversial due to her beliefs and her sexuality. She was right to research as there was a lot of information about her which made her very easy to study.


  1. Bach, S., 1992. Marlene Dietrich: Life and Legend. S .l.: William Morrow and Company, Inc.
  2. Bach, S., 2011. Marlene Dietrich: Life and Legend. S .l.: University of Minnesota Press.
  3. Carr, L., 1970. Four Fabulous Faces: The Evolution and Metamorphosis of Swanson, Garbo, Crawford and Dietrich.. s.l.: Doubleday and Company.
  4. Chandler, C., 2011. Four Fabulous Faces: The Evolution and Metamorphosis of Swanson, Garbo, Crawford and Dietrich.. s.l.: Simon & Schuster.


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