Marlene Knaus is a former model and the ex-wife of famous Austrian 'Formula1' racer Niki Lauda. She was a lesser-known model before she started dating the three-time 'F1 World Championship' winner. They were the most talked-about couple of that time and were the regular subject of news headlines. She had earlier dated actor Curt Jürgens. Niki and Marlene got married within a year of getting into a relationship. She had supported Niki whenever he survived accidents. One such accident had damaged his ear and burnt his face. Following this, the media wondered whether Marlene, a gorgeous model, would continue with the relationship. Considered the "it girl," she was known for her impeccable fashion sense and signature loose hairdo that became a trend during that time. Marlene and Niki have two children. Even after her divorce, she has been in a good relationship with Niki's second wife and his children from her. Niki's second wife and Marlene were both by his side while he was counting his last days.
Marlene was born in the US. She is of Venezuelan ethnicity. However, she received Austrian citizenship after marrying Niki. Marlene had a full-fledged career in modeling before she married the 'Formula 1' racer. Despite being the wife of a celebrity, she has always preferred to stay away from the media.
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Relationship with Niki
Marlene and Niki dated for a while before getting married in 1976. They were one of the most popular celebrity couples of the time and were always under the media radar. Their love story often made page-3 headlines. According to sources, Marlene fainted when she saw Niki's burns and his damaged eyelids after a fatal 'Grand Prix' accident.
Marlene was not the first woman whom Niki had dated. He had broken up with Mariella Reininghaus in 1975 to start a relationship with Marlene. Niki had reportedly fallen for Marlene’s magnetic persona and beauty and thus ended his 8-year-long relationship to be with her.
Marlene had earlier dated German–Austrian stage and film actor Curt Jürgens. Interestingly, Marlene and Niki had met each for the first time at a dinner party thrown by Curt at his home.
Marlene and Niki got married within a few months of being in a relationship. They had their first child, son Mathias Lauda, on January 30, 1981, who grew up to be a racing driver. Their second son, Lukas, serves as Mathias's manager.
Marlene and Niki ended their marriage in 1991. However, they remained in touch, and Marlene often attended their family get-togethers. Though she did not remarry or date anyone after the divorce, Niki married Birgit Wetzinger, a flight attendant in his airline, in 2008. Niki and Birgit had twins, a girl named Mia and a boy named Max. He reportedly also had a son named Christoph from an extramarital relationship.
Marlene lives in a house in Ibiza that Niki had left for her. She has been in good terms with Birgit and even shared responsibilities when Niki was on his deathbed in a Zurich hospital. The major share of the ‘Formula 1’ racer's net worth was signed off to his four children and Birgit, along with a considerable sum for Marlene and Christoph.
Actors Alexandra Maria and Daniel Brühl portrayed Marlene and Niki, respectively, in the 2013 film 'Rush,' which majorly focused on the rivalry between Niki and fellow 'Formula 1' racer James Hunt during the 1976 'Formula 1' motor-racing season. The film showed that Marlene initially had no idea about Niki's stardom.
Alexandra sported Marlene's signature loose top-knot bun hairstyle perfectly in the movie. Niki, while visiting the sets of ‘Rush,’ saw Alexandra in her full Marlene avatar from a distance and exclaimed "Marlene! Marlene!"