Zarah Leander was the most popular singing movie star during the Nazi period. Born Zarah Hedberg in Sweden, she came up through the ranks of small-town Swedish vaudeville and operetta to establish herself on the Viennese stage by 1935, appearing in Ralph Benatsky's Axel an der Himmelstür. UFA studios in Berlin had lost Marlene Dietrich to Hollywood in 1930, and had since then been seeking a suitable replacement. Although not a strong actress, Zarah Leander's looks combined the sultry sensuality of Dietrich with the Nordic iciness of Greta Garbo. Her singing voice was suitable for Viennese operetta, and from the standpoint of sheer musical talent, she could certainly outpace what Dietrich had been able to offer in this respect. These aspects of Leander's talent proved enough to convince UFA to sign her as a contract player in 1936.