Marlene Dietrich brought androgyny to the silver screen through her roles in such movies as Morocco (1930) and Seven Sinners (1940). The biggest Hollywood star at a time when “talkies” were still new, Dietrich captured men’s hearts and women’s admiration on screen and off. Dietrich challenged the strictly limited notions of femininity at the time through her lifestyle and fashion: “I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men.” Relying on her good looks, striking voice, sense of humor and no-nonsense personality, Dietrich received international fame during her long career.
Dietrich’s many honors include the Medal of Freedom for her service entertaining American troops for 18 months during World War II, often on the front lines. The German-born star remains a symbol of anti-Nazism, a fashion icon, and an influential figure of the LGBTQ community. Portrait Gallery historian Kate C. Lemay is the curator of this exhibition.