After her breakthrough role as a cabaret singer in The Blue Angel (1930), with encouragement and promotion from Josef von Sternberg, who took credit for having “discovered” the actress, Marlene Dietrich moved to Hollywood under contract to Paramount Pictures. From between 1930 and 1950, she and von Sternberg united to make six films for the studio: Morocco (1930), Dishonored (1931), Shanghai Express (1932), Blonde Venus (1932), The Scarlet Empress (1934), and The Devil is a Woman (1935), with the first earned Dietrich her only Academy Award nomination. The actress later remarked that she was at her most beautiful in her last film with von Sternberg in 1935.
By then Dietrich’s public popularity had already declined. Even though she was one of the best-paid film stars of the time, her films did not perform as well as expected at the box office, which led to her being proclaimed “box office poison” in 1938. It should be noted that during this time Dietrich had refused the offers to return to Germany as a foremost film star, instead she decided to apply for U.S. citizenship in 1937. She returned to the big screen in the 1939 comedy Destry Rides Again with James Stewart as a cowboy saloon girl, a type of character that was different from her usual roles. This decision was encouraged by Josef von Sternberg and successfully revived her career.
Let’s take a look back at the strikingly stunning actress and singer during the 1930s:
Marlene Dietrich in the film ‘The Blue Angel,’ 1930. Photo by Popperfoto.
Marlene Dietrich making her Hollywood film debut as the tuxedo clad Amy Jolly in the film ‘Morocco,’ 1930. Photo by Eugene Robert Richee.
Marlene Dietrich at the time of her first Hollywood film, ‘Morocco’, 1930. Photo by Eugene Robert Richee.
Marlene Dietrich, 1930. Photo by Eugene Robert Richee.