At 28, Dietrich still had some baby fat when she served notice in Europe’s first talkie, “The Blue Angel.” But as a teenager she’d lived through the ghastliest war in human history.
She made some good and important American movies — “Judgment at Nuremberg,” “Witness for the Prosecution” — but was never fully a part of Hollywood.
She was too international, and looked as glamorous in men’s clothes as she did in slinky gowns, which didn’t sit well with the heartland.
Where most serious modern artists like to shatter illusions, she insisted on maintaining them, taking her impeccably radiant image to the Allied front during WWII and to the concert hall thereafter.
She never appeared in her last film, a Maximilan Schell documentary, lending only her voice instead. The illusion remained intact.