When Ryan Murphy was dropping hints about AHS: Freak Show, he told The Hollywood Reporter that "Jessica Lange has always wanted to play a Marlene Dietrich figure, and now she gets to." And when you look at AHS: Freak Show's Elsa Mars, she and Dietrich are pretty much the same person. If Marlene had failed in America, I bet she'd be hanging out with Elsa in Jupiter.
This week's on AHS: Freak Show episode has me hoping we'll get to see a little Elsa Mars vs. Marlene Dietrich action, similarly to the way AHS actually incorporated the Black Dahlia into Season 1. In "Edward Mordrake (Part 2)" we will see flashbacks from Elsa Mars’ days in Germany, and what led her to America and into the side show business. Wouldn't it be great if those flashbacks included her following Marlene to America?
In addition to continuing on with Edward Mordrake's quest to take one freak back to hell with him, we will also probably find out what happened to Elsa Mars’ legs, which she revealed as prosthetics in Episode 1. I find it kind of ironic that everyone had an obsession with Marlene Dietrich’s legs, while Elsa’s aren’t real, but it might be a clue as to why Elsa is so resentful toward the famed actress. But leg-envy or not, it seems odd for Elsa to hate someone she hasn’t even crossed paths with. Dietrich has to be in those flashbacks, right?
But just in case we don't get to the see the famed German actress, here's where hers and Elsa's paths run at least slightly parallel on AHS:
The Burn Book
We know that Marlene Dietrich is very much the same level of star on American Horror Story that she was in real life, since in the first episode Elsa was carrying around her “Marlene Dietrich burn book” and cutting out a bad review for Dietrich. Burn. "Jessica loves that book," Murphy told Entertainment Weekly.
Unfortunately for Elsa, it seems like both performers came to America from Germany around the same time. I'm guessing that Marlene was a better singer, actor, and dancer and pushed Elsa off the map.
Ridiculously Similar Style
They're both blonde, have similar talents, and wear lots of feathers, so it makes sense that there’s only room for one.
Only One Had a Bully Director
In real life, Marlene Dietrich met Josef von Sternberg, the director who made her a star. While he supposedly was a huge jerk, constantly telling her how she needed to look, he did make her the star that she was. I bet if Elsa had von Sternberg she would be famous too, but then again, she'd have to put up with being bossed around all the time. And that's not really Elsa's thing.
Dietrich remained famous, even at the end of her life. Even if Elsa was at one point some sort of star, she is now performing in Jupiter, Florida and nobody wants to hang out and perform in Jupiter, Florida.
But Who Do We Like More?
Marlene wins the fame, but Elsa wins me over with her scrappiness.