Marlene Dietrich and the Saw

Marlene Dietrich was a Hollywood icon known for her beauty, unusual voice, and captivating performances. However, many fans of the German actress and singer may be surprised to learn that she was also an accomplished musician, with a talent for the musical saw. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, while living in Hollywood and filming movies, Dietrich became enamored with the musical saw after hearing it played at a party. She was struck by the haunting sound of the instrument and was determined to learn how to play it herself. She spent hours practicing in her spare time, and became quite an accomplished player. She entertained the troops in WWII and was awarded the Medal of Freedom for entertaining the troops during the war.

Despite her success as a musician and actress, Dietrich was modest about her musical abilities. In an interview with Time Magazine in 1960, she described her love for the saw as a “hobby,” saying, “It’s just something I do for myself. It’s not something I want to make a career out of.” That was probably a wise choice considering her great success as an actress.

Here, you can hear her play the saw and a beautiful rendition of Aloha Oe:

And here’s a wonderful video of the talented Katharina Micada, honoring Dietrich on the 20th anniversary of Dietrich’s death. Enjoy!



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Rowena Southard, your blog hostess, is a musical saw enthusiast who lives in California. She loves all kinds of music and has a special fondness for unusual instruments.