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March 16, 2020

Simone Simon: One of the Most Brilliant Stars of the French Cinema in the First Half of the 20th Century

Born in Marseille, French actress Simone Simon began her film career in 1931 after being spotted in a restaurant. She was offered a film contract by director Victor Tourjansky, which ended her plans to become a 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. She later told a reporter that she had no acting experience when making her first screen test for The Unknown Singer.

In 1932, she was given more important roles and she rose to fame after starring in Marc Allégret's Lac aux dames (Ladies Lake, 1934). After seeing her in Ladies Lake, Darryl F. Zanuck brought her to Hollywood in 1935 with a widespread publicity campaign. Before accepting an American contract, Simon completed two more films for Allégret, Les yeux noirs (Black Eyes, 1935) and Les beaux jours (1935).

In the late 1930s, Simon returned to France, dissatisfied with the development of her American film career and the backfiring of its related publicity. There, she appeared in the Jean 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).

Simon 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.

Simon died in Paris, France in 2005 from natural causes at the age of 93.

Take a look at these glamorous photos to see the beauty of young Simone Simon in the 1930s and 1940s.


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