Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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DIETRICH, Marlene

(b Maria Magdalene Dietrich, 27 Dec. '01, Berlin; d 6 May '92, Paris) Actress, singer. Already a successful actress in Germany, she was cast by American director Josef von Sternberg in The Blue Angel '30 and went with him to Hollywood, where he made her a legend and a myth: the enigmatic vamp, tough yet vulnerable, exotic and intensely desirable but always just out of reach. She had occasionally sung in films, e.g. 'Falling In Love Again' from Angel, 'See What The Boys In The Back Room Will Have' from Destry Rides Again '39, both like many of her songs written by Frederick Hollander (b Friedrich Hollaender, 18 Oct. 1896, London; d 18 Jan. '76, Munich; he can be seen playing piano for her in A Foreign Affair '48). She refused to return to Germany '37; her films were banned there, she became a US citizen '39 and entertained troops during the war, indeed probably more troops than any other star, famous for 'Lili Marlene' (a German poem by Hans Leip from WWI, music by Norbert Schultze, first sung by Lale Andersen '39 in Germany; English words by Tommie Connor sung in England by Anne Shelton). Duet on 'Too Old To Cut The Mustard' with Rosemary Clooney a hit '52; as her film career wound down in that decade she became a cabaret and concert star, one of the most glamorous women in the world well into her seventies. Compilations incl. The Early Years on Preiser, The Cosmopolitan Marlene Dietrich on Columbia Legacy (early '50s tracks sung in French, German, English), The Marlene Dietrich Album on Sony Masterworks, Marlene Dietrich live with Burt Bacharach (her accompanist '58--63) on DRG, others on MCA, ASV, Capitol, Koch.