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Marlene Dietrich: The Woman and the Legend

In the 1960s René attended boarding school in Gstaad, Switzerland with two of Marlene Dietrich’s grandsons. When she came to the Palace Hotel to perform her world famous, one-woman show, René was asked to be seated at her table. He was understandably star-struck by the glimmering star and never forgot every detail of the dazzling event.

The presentation describes how the little girl, born Marie Magdalene Dietrich in 1901 Berlin, became the world-famous legend Marlene Dietrich.

Few Hollywood icons have attracted our attention for longer than Dietrich. Although she started her career in Germany doing cabaret and dancing in chorus lines, her fame enjoyed a meteoric rise. By 1930 she was hailed in Hollywood as Paramount’s answer to MGM’s other foreign-born goddess, Greta Garbo.

Dietrich’s long working and personal relationship with director Josef von Sternberg, brought her initial fame and fortune. He recreated her as a glamorous femme fatale, and made her the highest paid actress, which, however, eventually turned her into “box-office poison.”

Never one to be restrained for long, she reinvented herself several times throughout her career, including her famed role in Agatha Christie’s “Witness for the prosecution.” Her serious work ethic and personal discipline endeared her to the film industries’ best producers and directors.

Just before the Second World War, the Nazis tried to woo her back to Germany, to no avail. She was very outspoken against the Nazi regime and became an American Citizen, instead of going to work for Hitler. Her courage during the war earned her many awards from the USA, France, and even Israel. In the words of one of her famous directors, Billy Wilder: “Dietrich was on the front lines more than General Eisenhower.”

In the 50s she once again changed her focus and became the highest paid cabaret artist in the world. Guided by Burt Bachrach she created a one-woman show, which she began in Las Vegas, and was paid $30,000 a week. During the ensuing two decades she brought the show all over the world.

Although married only once, and for 53 years, she had dalliances with most of her leading men, like Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, and John Wayne. Being the product of the decadent 1920’s “Golden Age of Weimar” environment, Dietrich  also had affairs with women like Edith Piaf and Dolores del Rio. Throughout her life, however, she remained dedicated to her only child, Maria, and her four grandsons.

In his inimitable story-telling fashion, René will present a picture of Marlene Dietrich as a multi-talented, multi-lingual, truly international icon, who camouflaged her flaws and capitalized on her talents.