Marlene Dietrich and her daughter Maria Riva, 1930

Josef von Sternberg, (29 May 1894 – 22 December 1969) was an Austrian-American film director. His family emigrated permanently to the United States when he was fourteen, and he grew up in New York City. He started working at World Film Company in Fort Lee, New Jersey, where he was mentored by French director Emile Chautard.Sternberg started in Hollywood after making his first film as a director in 1925. Charlie Chaplin became interested in him, and had him direct a film. Sternberg worked on late silent films in the late 1920s, by which time he had adopted the use of "von" in his name, a pretension to aristocratic origins to which he had no claim. After working with the award-winning German star Emil Jannings, he was invited from Hollywood to Berlin in 1930 to make Germany's first feature-length full-talkie, Der blaue Engel (The Blue Angel), a coproduction between Paramount in the US and UFA in Germany, with Jannings and an unknown revue-artist, Marlene Dietrich. His encouragement of the latter's performances helped to create the Dietrich legend in the six additional films they made together in Hollywood. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director for two of these, Morocco (1930) and Shanghai Express (1932).

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