Marlene Dietrich: Patriot

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.

Dietrich was awarded the Medal of Freedom for her wartime service in 1947.  She said that of all the honors and awards bestowed upon her during her career, she was most proud of it.

Published in: on August 22, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments (4)  
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  1. Don

    For your enjoyment.

    LThe Official Lili Marleen Page

    Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

    • Thank you Hank!

  2. Thanks for this, Don. I’ve always loved “Lily Marlene”. IIRC the original German title was something prosaic like “Song of a Soldier Standing Guard Duty”.

    As for “Judgment at Nurnberg” it is hard to imaging w/o Tracy, Dietrich or the young Maximillian Schell.

    I always thought Marlene Dietrich had invented some cryptographic device for the Navy but apparently I’ve confused her with someone else. Any ideas?

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