Skip to Content ☰ Open Filter >>


Showing 1 of 1

Mack Elliott, American, (12/01/1903–1/16/1946)
Marlene Dietrich, "Manpower", 1941
Gelatin silver print on paper
13 3/8 x 10 3/8 in. (34 x 26 cm)

Object Type: Photography
Technique: Gelatin silver Process
Credit Line: Gift of David Fahey
Accession Number: 2016.19.13

Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992) was a German actress, singer, and activist. She got her start as a silent film star in 1920s Berlin before garnering international acclaim for her performance in Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel (1930). She signed a contract with Paramount Pictures and moved to the United States. Once here, Dietrich continued cultivating a “glamour girl” persona marked by her slicked-down blonde hair, androgynous clothing, and cool, enigmatic air. In celebrity circles, Dietrich was openly bisexual and counted herself as a member of Golden Era Hollywood’s “Sewing Circle”—an informal network of lesbian and bisexual industry actors. Though not open with the public about her sexuality, there were hints of her attraction to women. Specifically, in the film Morocco (1930), she initiated one of the first on-screen kisses between two women.

In the years preceding and during World War II, Dietrich was a fierce anti-fascist. She renounced her German citizenship, sold war bonds, financed the escapes of several German friends, and recorded anti-Nazi broadcasts for German audiences. In November 1947, the West Point Military Academy awarded Dietrich the Medal of Freedom for, as Paramount reported, her “extraordinary record entertaining the troops overseas during the war.”

On her career spent in the spotlight, Dietrich wrote in her book, Marlene Dietrich’s ABC, “Camera: A friend of mine. We understood each other.” The above images taken by famed Golden Era Hollywood photographers George Hurrell and Mack Elliott certainly capture that understanding.

Today, when we think of the legacy of Marlene Dietrich, we can marvel at her magnetic charisma displayed both on and off screen and her unwavering morality in the face of fascism. She has more than earned a place at the intersection of LGBTQ+ and Hollywood histories.

Be sure to explore more Hollywood portraits in the RCWG online collection (link in bio) and seek out some of Dietrich’s films. The Blue Angel is available for rent on Amazon Prime and Morocco is streaming on HBO Max.

- Gigi Hume SC '23, Wilson Arts Administration Intern

Works Cited

Dietrich, Marlene. Marlene Dietrich's ABC. Doubleday, 1962.

Finch, Peter B. “Marlene Dietrich, 90, Symbol of Glamour, Dies.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 7 May 1992,

“The Hollywood Star 'At the Front Lines' of WW2.” Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 27 Dec. 2017,

Longworth, Karina. “Marlene Dietrich and Claudette Colbert (Fake News: Fact Checking Hollywood Babylon Episode 15).” You Must Remember This, You Must Remember This, 3 Aug. 2020,

“Miss Dietrich to Receive Medal.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 Nov. 1947,

Weekes, Princess. “Marlene Dietrich: The Bisexual, Anti-Fascist Face of Free Germany.” The Mary Sue, 28 Dec. 2017,

Verso: stamped; stamp shows "Photograph by Mack Elliott". Another stamp: "Jun 19 1941". In pencil, "From 'Manpower'" and "Marlene Dietrich" 1941. A fragment of a description of the photo is glued to the back: "Dietrich leans lightly and picturesqu...A table in this scene from Warner Bro..." in which she'll be seen with Edwa...and George R[aft]"

vintage gelatin silver print

Object Description
Portrait of Marlene Dietrich, (full figure), in a dark dress with embroidered decorative elements, cigarette in hand, leans against a table. She appears to be in the living room of a domestic interior.

Keywords Click a term to view the records with the same keyword
This object has the following keywords:

Portfolio List Click a portfolio name to view all the objects in that portfolio
This object is a member of the following portfolios:

Your current search criteria is: Portfolio is "Photography" and [Objects]Display Artist is "Mack Elliott".