Marlene Dietrich, the smoky-voiced icon of the silver screen is being reclaimed by the gay community.

A new show about her life will focus on her atheism and lesbian exploits, and also feature cabaret.

Terry Sanderson, organiser and gay rights activist, said: “Marlene has always had a big attraction for the gay community.

“The campness of her films, her devil-may-care attitude to convention (she was the first to popularise trouser-wearing for women; a novelty that almost got her arrested in post-war Paris), and her fabulous voice are just some of the reasons.”

During her early years in Berlin, Dietrich enjoyed the thriving gay scene of the time and had a penchant for drag balls.

Mr Sanderson said: “Marlene Dietrich was a woman of enormous complexity, and this exploration of her life will show some aspects that are less well known, including her affairs with women, among whom were Edith Piaf and Colette.

“She is one of the few gay icons who led something of a gay life herself.”

The show, A Salute to Marlene Dietrich will be presented in London during this year’s Gay Pride Festival.

The show will discuss Dietrich’s anti-Nazi work during World War II, when she turned her back on her native Germany and took up arms against Hitler.

She was awarded the Legion d’Honneur in France and the Congressional Medal of Honour in America.

Dietrich was an atheist who lost her Lutheran faith during the war, after hearing preachers from both sides invoking God as their support.

The diva famously said: “If God exists, he needs to review his plan.”

Tickets for A Salute to Marlene Dietrich are available from www.gayhumanist.com/marlene.

The show will be held on Thursday 28 June 2007 at Conway Hall, Holborn, London, at 7.30pm. Tickets £10.