Marlene Dietrich – One of the first feminists

Renewal- the foundation of success

In 1901 a little girl was born in Schöneberg, Tyskland who came to be one of the world’s biggest and most famous singer, actress and feminist. Marlene was active, from 1910 all the way to her death in 1992, as an advocate for the female struggle and equality between men and women. One of the reasons to her popularity as an actress was that she all through her career was that she always found ways to renew her act and because of that could attract a large audience. Marlene passed away in 1991, 90 years old and in 1999 American Film Institute listed her as number nine on the list of the biggest female actresses from the Hollywood era.

A conservative upbringing

Marlene was raised in a home of the middle class in Germany in the beginning of the 20th century. In that era that was the same as conservatism. Her father was a policeman and died when Marlene was only six years old and her mother remarried a few years later to her fathers’ best friend. Also, he died soon after by scars from the first world war. The mother, who was left to raise Marlene, became one of her biggest inspirations. The mother was described as a tough woman and a fighter for female rights.

The will to break through

In Marlene there was always a dream of success. During her teenage years her goals were to become a violinist and therefore she sought the university of music in Weimar. After a couple of years, she moved to a music school in Berlin but because of a hand injury she was forced to give up her dream of becoming a violinist. Instead she started in theatre and got some smaller roles in the movie industry. Later in her career she often denied these parts despite that she had been in thirteen mute films before her breakthrough med the Blue Angel.

Early roles and the breakthrough

She got her first leading role as a 26-yearold. It was the director Gustav Ucicky that had spotted Marlene at a theatre scene. In the movie Café Elektric she played against the very much-loved actor Willi Forst which was a constellation described by the audience as very dynamique. Before this movie she had a smaller part in a trilogy by Joe May. Even this part says to have contributed to her main part in Café Electric. Her big breakthrough on the international stage came with the Blue Angel which was the first German movie with sound.    It was in this movie her well known and characteristic song, that came to be her signum charmed an entire world. Marlene was also famous for the reason that she often wore pants which was seen as pretty scandalous in the beginning.

Political activities and female struggle

After the move to USA Marlene got an offer from Joseph Goebbels about returning to Germany. She denied it and her movies where boycotted by the Nazi-regime.  In 1939 she was an American citizen and toured around American troops with the song Lili Marlene. In America she was seen as a hero while the Germans saw her as a traitor since she openly criticized the regime. In many of her movies she performed in men’s clothes which made her a role model in the female agenda that was just starting to bloom.