Indeed, Dietrich may have been no more than a figment of her own imagination. As her daughter Maria Riva revealed after the legend's death, Dietrich often spoke of herself in the third person, saying things like, "Oh, Dietrich would never wear that hat," or "That is how Dietrich would do it." She worked hard all her life to cultivate that aura of perfection and glamour, playing a perpetual part any time she was in the public eye.
The contradictions in her personality seemed to confound all the laws of man and nature at once. She could look glamorous whether in a fabulous Travis Banton confection or in full male formal dress. She was at once a prima donna full of attitude, and an extremely disciplined, hard worker on the set. Though she remained married to Rudolf Sieber her entire life, the stories of her legions of lovers of both sexes are legendary. And though one might think of her as no more than a Hollywood cream puff, she spent several years of World War II in great danger in Africa and Europe entertaining the troops extremely close to the front.
"Dietrich" was not a real person at all, but a lifelong work of art cultivated by one Maria Magdalena Dietrich, born in Berlin in December, 1901, and maintained right up until her death in May, 1992. Admire not the person she was, but the illusion she created.