Maria Magdelene Dietrich was born on this day, 27th December, in 1901 in the Schöneberg district of Berlin.
She was the second daughter of Louis Dietrich, a police lieutenant, and Wilhelmina Felsing, the daughter of a well-to-do Berlin family. Her sister Elisabeth was a year older than her. Her father died when she was 10 and five years later, in 1916, her mother married Grenadier Lieutenant Eduard von Losch who was soon killed in the First World War.
She initially enrolled in the Berlin School of Music with dreams of becoming a concert violinist but an injury to her wrist soon put paid to that. After a failed first audition at Max Rheinhardts acting school, and a job as a chorus girl in a touring revue, she applied again and joined the school in 1921 as Marlene Dietrich.
She made her film debut in 1922 and later that year met and married the young film director Rudolf Sieber. In 1924 they had a daughter, Maria.
She was not a major feature of the Berlin cabaret scene, mainly working in film, but it was in 1929 during her performances in the Mischa Spoliansky revue ‘It’s In The Air’ and Georg Kaisers ‘Two Neckties’ that she was spotted by the American director Josef Von Sternberg and cast in ‘The Blue Angel’
On the day ‘The Blue Angel’ opened in Berlin in 1930, Marlene was due to leave for Hollywood to begin her contract with Paramount. She attended the opening, took a bow at the end to thunderous applause and caught the train out of Berlin.