Almost as old as the century, Marlene Dietrich, the daughter of a Prussian police officer, grew up in an atmosphere of privilege and German-Victorian rectitude before plunging into the hectic, sexually liberated (and sexually ambiguous) world of 1920s Berlin. When she was cast by Josef von Sternberg in "The Blue Angel" the major influences on her life and career were in place.;Dietrich's name evokes the quintessence of feminine enchantment, her picture remains this century's great icon of cosmopolitan glamour and elegant sexual allure, yet she persistently denied any similarity between her public image and her private self. In forty years as a film actress she seduced, and was seduced by the camera. When her film career faltered she created a new role for herself which led to a remarkable contribution to the Allied effort in World War II. In later years she revived almost single-handed the European nightclub-cabaret tradition.;Her marriage to Rudolf Sieber, never dissolved, was completely open. Her male lovers included John Wayne, Jean Gabin, Maurice Chevalier and Generals Patton and Gavin. Her lesbian love affairs were if anything more intense on her part. Her life at every stage was more dramatic, more unpredictable and more colourful than any Hollywood scenarist could invent. Short in stature, less than outstanding as an actress and singer, she nonetheless established an image and a legend which made her one of the most sought-after women of our age, and which in the end, made her their prisoner.