[UFA star of the 1930s and 1940s, Zarah Leander, channeling a bit of Marlene D. – Photo Credit: unknown]
After last week’s Denoke post and Denoke’s performance of “Warum soll eine Frau kein Verhätlnis haben?”, I couldn’t get the popular Zarah Leander version of the song out of my head. And I knew that, somewhere, I had seen her in a white shirt and tie, too – tying a look somewhere between Garbo and Dietrich.
Of course, when talking about Leander and Dietrich, the obvious difference is, that Dietrich had the brains and the conscience to leave Nazi-infested Germany behind and move on to a career in America. Leander stayed behind and made many a movie under the Nazi regime, including far too many “just carry on, damn it” movies in the war-torn 1940s.
Despite her involvement with the Nazi-era UFA, Leander’s fame endured and she has become a camp classic among the gay community, mostly for the over-the-top texts and, above all, her voice – which brings me to the point why this is a White Shirt Monday topic apart from the shirt: Leander must have had one of the most sonorous baritone voices I have ever heard.
In fact, it is puzzling that someone with a voice so blatantly queer could have a career (though always portraying the “falled”, yet positive heroine) in a regime that so rigorously tried to extinguish anything queer. Perhaps that voice is why Leander, unlike Dietrich, wasn’t one to make suits popular on women. The above picture is the only one I know of (and I was very surprised when I found it) where Leander wears a more suit-inspired garb, she became famous sporting a rather different look:
Either way, I will never forget the first time a gay friend made me listen to her and I, after two minutes of listening to a baritone, asked “So, when does she start singing?”
But try that for yourself: