Biography of Marlene Dietrich

December 27, 1901

Birth of Marie Magdalene Dietrich, second daughter of Louis Erich Otto Dietrich and his wife Elisabeth Josefine, née Felsing



Attends school in Berlin and Dessau



Boarding school in Weimar; violin lessons from Professor Robert Reitz, musical director and teacher at the music school


October 1922

First roles in small studio theaters and at the Großes Schauspielhaus in Berlin; first parts in films, e.g. in SO SIND DIE MÄNNER (D 1922, Director: Georg Jacoby) and DER MENSCH AM WEGE (D 1923, Director: Wilhelm Dieterle); while shooting TRAGÖDIE DER LIEBE (D 1923, Director: Joe May) she meets Rudolf Sieber


May 17, 1923

Marriage to Rudolf Sieber


December 13, 1924

Birth of her daughter Maria



Co-stars with Willi Forst in her first leading role in the Austrian film CAFÉ ELECTRIC (WENN EIN WEIB DEN WEG VERLIERT, Director: Gustav Ucicky)


October 1929

Screen tests and contract for DER BLAUE ENGEL (THE BLUE ANGEL, directed by Josef von Sternberg)


April 1, 1930

World premiere of DER BLAUE ENGEL at the Gloria Palast in Berlin


April 2, 1930

Departs for America on the SS Bremen


November 14, 1930

Premiere of her first American film, MOROCCO (USA 1930, Director: Josef von Sternberg)


December 6, 1930 - April 17, 1931

Visits Berlin; returns to Hollywood with her daughter Maria



After working on seven films together, Josef von Sternberg and Marlene go separate ways



Applies for US citizenship


June 9, 1939

Acquires US citizenship



Performs for soldiers in U.S.O. camp shows in North Africa, Italy, France and Germany


September 1945

Visits her mother in Berlin


November 3, 1945

Death of her mother


November 18, 1947

Marlene Dietrich becomes the first woman to receive the US "Medal of Freedom", the highest American distinction for civilians, from Major General Maxwell D. Taylor


November 8, 1950

Marlene Dietrich is awarded the "Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur"; in 1971 she is raised to "Officier" by President Georges Pompidou; in 1989, to "Commandeur" by President François Mitterand



First solo shows at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas



Performs at the Café de Paris in London



Tours Europe: performs in the Federal Republic of Germany (e.g. in May, 1960, at the Titania Palast in Berlin)


December 14, 1961

World premiere of JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG (USA 1961, Director: Stanley Kramer) at the Kongreßhalle in Berlin



Publishes her first book: Marlene Dietrich's ABC (New York Doubleday 1962; Berlin, Blanvalet)



Last tour through Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Canada, USA and Australia



Withdraws to her Parisian apartment, Avenue Montaigne 12, and writes her autobiography. Although avoiding public appearances, she continues to work until her death in 1992.


June 24, 1976

Death of her husband Rudolf Sieber



Last film appearance in SCHÖNER GIGOLO, ARMER GIGOLO (JUST A GIGOLO, D 1979, Director: David Hemmings)



Publishes her autobiography Nehmt nur mein Leben (Berlelsmann, Gütersloh), later published as Marlene in the USA (Grove Press, 1989)



MARLENE – a documentary by Maximilian Schell


May 6, 1992

Marlene Dietrich dies in her apartment in Paris


May 16, 1992

Buried in Berlin at the Friedenau Cemetery, Stubenrauchstraße 43, grave No. 34/16. A line from the poem “Abschied vom Leben” (Farewell from Life) by Theodor Körner is written on her gravestone: “Hier steh' ich an den Marken meiner Tage” (Here I stand at the marks of my days).


October 24, 1993

Maria Riva presents Marlene Dietrich’s estate to Berlin and the Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek



First presentation of her personal estate in the exhibition "Kino-Movie-Cinema" at the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin


September 26, 2000

With the opening of the Filmmuseum Berlin, a start is made: in the Permanent Exhibition Film, an area of c. 300 m² is devoted entirely to Marlene Dietrich.

Back to top