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Simone Simon

in The Curse Of The Cat People (1944)
Born Simone Thérèse Fernande Simon
April 23, 1910(1910-04-23)
Béthune, France
Died February 22, 2005 (aged 94)
Paris, France

Simone Thérèse Fernande Simon (April 23, 1910 (some sources say 1911)[1] – February 22, 2005) was a French film actress who began her film career in 1931.


Early life

Born in Béthune, Pas-de-Calais (some sources say Marseille)[1] France, she was the daughter of Henri Louis Firmin, a French engineer, and Erma Maria Domenica Giorcelli, an Italian housewife. She grew up in Marseille. She went to Paris in 1931 and worked briefly as a singer, model and fashion designer.


Simon made her screen debut in Le Chanteur inconnu (The Unknown Singer, 1931), and quickly established herself as one of the country's most successful film actresses. After seeing her in the 1934 film Lac Aux Dames (USA title: Ladies' Lake), Darryl F. Zanuck brought her to Hollywood in 1936 with a widespread publicity campaign.

However her films for 20th Century Fox were only moderately successful. Among others, she was cast in the Janet Gaynor role in a remake of the beloved silent classic Seventh Heaven, which co-starred James Stewart and flopped. She also appeared as an eager child/woman in Ladies in Love, which starred Gaynor, Constance Bennett, and Loretta Young, a heavyweight lineup in which Simon's role left her little chance to compete effectively. Simon returned, dissatisfied, to France. There she appeared in the Renoir film La Bête Humaine (The Human Beast) in 1938.

With the outbreak of World War II she returned to Hollywood and worked for RKO Radio Pictures where she achieved her greatest successes in English language cinema with The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), Cat People (1942) and The Curse of the Cat People (1944), the latter two formed part the horror film series produced by Val Lewton. These films did not lead to greater success and she languished in mediocre films until the end of the war.

She returned to France to act, and appeared in La Ronde (Roundabout, 1950). Her film roles were few after this and she made her final film appearance in 1973.

She died in Paris, France on 22 February, 2005, aged 94, from natural causes. The BBC mistakenly reported her age as 93,[2] by using the wrong year of birth (1911). A few days later, French Minister of Culture Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres issued a statement in which he extolled Simon's "charm, her irresistible smile. . . With Simone Simon's passing, we have lost one of the most seductive and most brilliant stars of the French cinema of the first half of the 20th century."[3]

Simon never married. It was alleged by her secretary that she gave a gold key to her boudoir to any man she was interested in, including George Gershwin. However, as film historian Gang Mank reports in his audio commentary for the DVD of Cat People the secretary was then on trial for extorting money from her employer, and her word on this matter cannot be taken at face value (the secretary was later convicted, and the terms of her probation required that she never speak of the "gold key" scandal again). In the 1950s, Simon was romantically involved with the French banker and racehorse owner/breeder Alec Weisweiller whose wife Francine was one of Jean Cocteau's patrons.

She was at one time in a relationship with World War II double agent Dusko Popov, codenamed "Tricycle".[4]

Selected filmography

  • Mam'zelle Nitouche (1931)
  • On opère sans douleur (1931)
  • Durand contre Durand (1931) - Eliane
  • Le Chanteur inconnu (1931) - Pierette
  • Un fils d'Amérique (1932)
  • Le Roi des palaces (1932) - Victoire
  • Prenez garde à la peinture (1932)
  • Pour vivre heureux (1932)
  • La Petite chocolatière (1932) - Julie
  • Tire au flanc (1933)
  • L'Étoile de Valencia (1933)
  • Le Voleur (1934)
  • Lac aux dames (1934)
  • Les Beaux jours (1935) - Sylvie
  • Les Yeux noirs (1935) - Tania
  • Girls' Dormitory (1936) - Marie Claudel
  • Ladies in Love (1936) - Marie Armand
  • Seventh Heaven (1937) - Diane the Hooker
  • Love and Hisses (1937) - Yvett Guerin
  • Josette (1938) - Renee LeBlanc
  • La Bête humaine (1938) - Séverine Roubaud


  1. ^ a b Soares, Andre (February 24, 2005). "Simone Simon (Biography)". Alternative Film Guide.  
  2. ^ "French actress Simone Simon dies". BBC News, UK Edition. February 23, 2005.  
  3. ^ Donnedieu, Renaud (23 February 2005). "Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres rend hommage à Simone Simon". French Ministry of Culture.  
  4. ^ "UK exposes secret agent's sex life". May 8, 2002.  


External links


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