Sultry, German born Marlene Dietrich was a major star of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Less well-known is that she was also an ardent American patriot. She achieved international stardom with the Blue Angel in 1930. Moving to America she became a star in the US with a string of films culminating with the hit comedy western Destry Rides Again (1939) with Jimmy Stewart. In 1939 she became a naturalized American citizen.
An ardent anti-Nazi, Dietrich threw herself into the war effort, selling more war bonds than any other star. She constantly toured with the USO, often entertaining troops a few miles from active combat zones. When asked why she took such risks she responded with the German phrase aus Anstand, “out of decency”. Her act for the troops had Danny Thomas as the warm up. Dietrich would come out, sing, dance, tell jokes and mind read. (The mind reading consisted of Dietrich choosing a soldier from the audience and reading his mind. She would then state, “Oh think of something else! I can’t possibly talk about that!”) Dietrich would sometimes raise her skirts above her knees after telling the troops that they were about to see something that Hitler would never get to see. Needless to say the troops loved her act. (more…)