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Simone Simon

1910 - 2005

Simone Simon

Born April 23, 1911
in Béthune, Pas de Calai,
Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône, France
Died February 23, 2005 in Paris, France

Brief Bio:

Simone Simon was born April 23, 1911 to Henri Louis Firmin and Erma Maria Domenica Giorcelli in Calais, France. She grew up in Marseille. Her complete birth name was Simone Thérèse Fernande Simone.

Depending upon the biographical source, Simone began as a fashion designer before working as an actress in French cinema. Russian director Victor Tourjansky spotted the 21 year old Simon at a cafe, and asked her to appear in his film Le Chanteur Inconnu [The Unknown Singer] in 1931. She was brought to the United States to work in Hollywood by Darryl F. Zanuck's 20th Century-Fox in 1936. He had seen her in Lac Aux Dames (USA title: Ladies Lake, 1934). Her first film was to be Message To Garcia, about events in the Spanish-American war, but she became ill and was hospitalized. Zanuck then put her in Irving Cumming's Girl's Dormitory, where she had good reviews with actress Ruth Chatterton, and also the Jimmy Stewart vehicle Seventh Heaven directed by Henry King, where she again received good reviews. However, none of these films for Fox were major box office successes. Frustrated with the material she was working with, she quit Fox and returned to France in 1938 and was soon starring in La Bete Humaine (The Human Beast) with Jean Gabin. This film was directed by Jean Renoir (Lewton worked with Renoir briefly preparing his 1947 film Woman on the Beach). Renoir offered her the role of Christine for his 1939 Rules of the Game (La 'Règle du jeu) but Simon turned it down, saying later, "... Renoir had the reputation to make a good film, and then bad. And in any event, I never appreciated this film which I find incoherent."

She returned to Hollywood in 1940 to work for William Dieterle, at RKO, to play one of the tormentors in the sinister/comedic The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941). That was followed with the Tourneur/Lewton Cat People (1942). During 1942 she was watched by the FBI as she was dating "double agent" Dusko Popov who worked for the British MI5. She gave him a loan of £10,000 late in 1942 before he left for Lisbon. She quit Popov in Spring 1943, apparently not recouping the loan (this information based on declassified records provided by UK Public Records office in May 2002). While with RKO she made two more films for Lewton, Curse of the Cat People (1944) and Mademoiselle Fifi (1944).

After the defeat of the Germans, she returned to France and worked in 11 films, the last one The Woman in Blue (La Femme en Bleu) in 1973. In 1956 she had announced she had retired from films to work in theatre. (She had appeared onstage in The Garden of Peru in 1945 and The Short Straw in 1967.) In May 2001 she was briefly interviewed for Film in Review (see links below). She lived in Montmartre of Paris until her death on February 22, 2005, at the age of 93. French Minister of Culture Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres issued a statement after her death 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."

SIMONE SIMON PAGES 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Simone Simon 1910-2005

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Lewton Links

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Lewton RKO Films
Cat People*
I Walked With A Zombie*
The Leopard Man*
The Seventh Victim*
The Ghost Ship*
Curse of the Cat People*
Youth Runs Wild
Mademoiselle Fifi*
Isle of the Dead
The Body Snatcher*

Other Lewton Films
My Own True Love*
Please Believe Me*
Apache Drums*
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Sir Lancelot Pinard

Simone Simon

Frances Dee

Jane Randolph


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