IN 1954 Marlene Dietrich made her debut as a cabaret singer, and over the next two decades she embarked on numerous world tours, frequently accompanied by Burt Bacharach.

Her international film career, which had begun so memorably in America with The Blue Angel (1930), the first of several films she made with the director Josef von Sternberg, was far from over: between 1958 and 1961 she starred in such notable film as Witness for the Prosecution, Touch of Evil, and Judgment at Nuremberg.

She had been one of Hollywood’s most magnetic and glamorous actresses, and audiences flocked to see her when she appeared in person on a city-theatre stage.

In late August 1964 she landed at Edinburgh’s Turnhouse Airport (main image) for a week of shows at the Lyceum Theatre, part of that year’s Edinburgh Festival.

“A considerable apparatus is provided, lights, saxophones, trumpets, a whole consort of strings”, began Christopher Small’s review in the Glasgow Herald, “and, of course, Mr Burt Bacharach: who, presently, with the air of a man who knows he can’t go wrong, announces, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly present -–Miss Marlene Dietrich!’

“Then she is there, slim and glittering in the carefully rose light, and completely unchanged; stepped straight from any scene, in fact, in which anyone in the Lyceum Theatre ... last remembers her. She will give us, she says (in the accent as well preserved as everything else), ‘a few songs from my records and my films’; with studied gesture and exactly calculated effect she takes us through not just her repertoire but a retrospective of – how many years? Painful for all of us to inquire; we just sit back and let recollection projected by the harsh flat voice and boosted on great waves of electrified accompaniment wash over us.”

Among the songs Dietrich sang that night was The Cream in My Coffee (“the very first song that brought me into pictures”: she had performed it at an audition for The Blue Angel).

Other songs included I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, My Blue Heaven, Lili Marlene, See What the Boys in the Backroom Will Have, and Falling in Love Again. During Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, noted Small, “she seems to be truly there, and what we know she really is: a feminine principle, which may properly be called ageless, surveys with lofty and compassionate irony the entire cycle of life.”

Read more: Herald Diary

In November 1966 she arrived in Glasgow Airport for the first in a run of hour-long shows at the Alhambra. The Herald spoke to her long-serving stage manager and her lighting man. “She is the complete professional”, said the former.

His colleague recalled one London show, where the post-show, stage-door crowd wouldn’t let the star get to her car. She rang Scotland Yard from a call-box. “This is Marlene Dietrich”, she announced. “And I’m Shirley Temple,” replied the desk sergeant. But after two minutes, two squad cars were on their way.