Josef von Sternberg was an Austrian-American film director who made movies like “The Scarlet Empress” and “Morocco.” He is known as a very talented director who brought Marlene Dietrich to Hollywood, where she had never been seen before, and made her a worldwide star. Sternberg and Dietrich worked together on a number of movies that did well at the box office and with critics. This helped make both Sternberg and Dietrich important figures in the Hollywood golden age. He was born into a Jewish family in Vienna. As a child, he moved to the United States. He came from a poor family, and he quit high school to get a job. One of his first jobs was by chance at the World Film Company, where he learned how movies are made. Emile Chautard, a French-American film director, took him on as an assistant director on one of his movies and became his mentor. Soon, Sternberg started making movies and did okay at it. He didn’t have a lot of success until he started working with Dietrich. This made him one of the most famous Hollywood directors of his time. He also had something to do with making actresses like Carole Lombard, Rita Hayworth, and Dolores del Rio look beautiful.
Early years and childhood
Josef von Sternberg was born in Vienna on May 29, 1894, as Jonas Sternberg to a Jewish family. Moses (Morris) Sternberg, his father, was a soldier in the Austrian-Hungarian army.
When he was two years old, his father moved to the United States to find work. A few years later, Jonas followed the rest of his family to the United States. After three years, the whole family moved back to Vienna, only to move back to the US in the end.
His family had a hard time making ends meet, so he grew up in a simple home. The boy went to public schools in New York, but he didn’t finish Jamaica High School.
Josel Von’s Career
He began doing odd jobs soon after dropping out. He got his start in the movie business when he got a job cleaning and fixing movie prints. By the middle of the 1910s, he worked for William A. Brady at the World Film Company in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Emile Chautard, a French-American film director, took the young boy under his wing and taught him the science and art of making movies. He also got help from the other directors and cinematographers at the company who spoke French.
Sternberg was hired by Chautard in 1919 to help direct a version of “The Mystery of the Yellow Room.” He got better at directing over time, and his first movie, “The Salvation Hunters,” came out in 1925.
He took the name Josef von Sternberg around this time. The famous Charlie Chaplin was impressed by the work of the new director, and the two worked together to make the movie “A Woman of the Sea” in 1926. Chaplin produced the movie, and Sternberg was in charge of directing it. But the finished movie was never shown to the public.
Sternberg’s silent movies “Underworld” (1927), “The Last Command” (1928), “The Docks of New York” (1928), and “Thunderbolt” (1928) were most successful in the late 1920s (1929).
In 1929, he agreed to go to Germany to make a movie. He went to Berlin, where he directed “The Blue Angel,” a tragicomedy with Emil Jannings, Marlene Dietrich, and Kurt Gerron in the leading roles. The movie did very well and made Dietrich a big star around the world.
He invited Dietrich to Hollywood, where they worked together on a number of well-received movies, such as “Morocco” in 1930, “Dishonored” in 1931, “Shanghai Express” in 1932, “Blonde Venus” in 1932, “The Scarlet Empress” in 1934, and “The Devil is a Woman” in 1935. (1935).
Their work together was successful as art, but it was hard for them to get along. It ended when “The Devil Is a Woman” didn’t do as well as expected at the box office. Sternberg’s career was never the same after they broke up, and he could never find the same magic in Hollywood again, even though he kept making movies until the 1950s.
In 1952, he helped make “Macao,” which was his last movie in Hollywood. The black-and-white film noir adventure was a big failure and cost $700,000. His last movie was “Anatahan,” which was made in Japan in 1953. The movie didn’t do well at the box office and only came out in a few places.
Between 1959 and 1963, he taught a course on film aesthetics at the University of California at Los Angeles.
Works of note
One of Sternberg’s most popular movies was “Morocco,” with Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich in the lead roles. Sternberg was up for four Academy Awards, including Best Director. The movie was about a cabaret singer and a Legionnaire who fall in love during the Rif War.
His historical drama film “The Scarlet Empress,” which is about the life of Catherine the Great, is known for having a dark atmosphere and a production design that makes it look like something evil is going on. At the time it came out, the movie caused a lot of controversies because it was full of sexual images, but critics look at it more favorably now.
Awards & Achievements
At the Venice Film Festival in 1935, his movie “The Devil Is a Woman” won the award for Best Cinematography.
In 1963, he won the German Film Award for “Outstanding Contributions to German Cinema.”
Personal History and Legacies
Josef von Sternberg had been married three times. In 1926, he married Riza Royce, but they split up in 1930. He was crazy about Marlene Dietrich in the 1930s and is thought to have had a sexual relationship with her.
In 1945, he married Jean Annette McBride, but the marriage didn’t last long and ended in 1947.
In 1948, he married Meri Otis Wilner for the third time. The couple had one child and stayed together until Sternberg’s death almost 20 years later.
On December 22, 1969, he had a heart attack and died at the age of 75.
Estimated Net worth
Josef is one of the wealthiest Directors and is on the list of the most well-known Directors. Based on what we found on Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider, Josef von Sternberg is worth about $1.5 million.