Nationality: French. Born: Bethune, 23 April 1910 (other sources give 1911 or 1914); grew up in Marseilles. Career: Worked briefly as fashion designer and model, Paris; 1931—stage debut in the operettaBalthazar, Paris; film debut in Le Chanteur inconnu; 1935–38—contract with 20th Century-Fox: U.S. film debut in Girls' Dormitory; 1938—in French film with Jean Gabin, La Bête humaine; on U.S. stage in Three after Three; 1941—in Charlot's Revue in Hollywood, and on vaudeville tour; 1966—on Paris stage in La Courte Paille. Address: 5 rue de Tilsitt, Paris 75008, France.
Films as Actress:
Le Chanteur inconnu (Tourjansky); Un Opère sans Douleur (Tarride); La petite chocolatiere (Hervil); Mam'zelle Nitouche (Marc Allégret)
Un Fils d'Amerique (Gallone); Le Roi des palaces (Gallone); L'Étoile de valence (de Poligny)
Tire au flanc (Renoir)
Le Voleur (Jacques Tourneur)
Les Yeux no irs (Dark Eyes) (Tourjansky) (as Tania); Les Beaux Jours (Marc Allégret); Prenez Garde à la Peinture (Chomette); Lac aux Dames (Marc Allégret) (as Puck)
Girls' Dormitory (Cummings) (as Marie Claudel); Ladies in Love (Edward H. Griffith) (as Marie Armand)
Seventh Heaven (Henry King) (as Diane); Love and Hisses (Lanfield) (as Yvette Guerin)
La Bête humaine (Judas Was a Woman) (Renoir) (as Séverine); Josette (Dwan) (as Renée Le Blanc)
All that Money Can Buy (The Devil and Daniel Webster) (Dieterle) (as Belle)
Cat People (Jacques Tourneur) (as Irena Dubrovna)
Tahiti Honey (Auer) (as Suzie)
The Curse of the Cat People (Fritsch and Wise) (as Irena); Mademoiselle Fifi (Wise) (as Elizabeth Rousset); Johnny Doesn't Live Here Anymore (And So They Were Married) (Joe May) (as Kathie Aumont)
Pétrus (Marc Allégret)
Temptation Harbour (Le Port de la tentation) (Comfort) (as Camelia)
Olivia (Pit of Loneliness) (Audry); La Ronde (Circle of Love) (Max Ophüls) (as Marie, the maid)
Donna senza nome (Women without Names) (Radvanyi) (as Yvonne)
"The Model" ep. of Le Plaisir (House of Pleasure) (Max Ophüls) (as Josephine)
I tre ladri (De Felice); Double Destin (Vicas)
The Extra Day (Fairchild) (as Michele Blanchard)
La Femme en bleu (Deville)
On SIMON: article—
Avant-Scène Cinéma (Paris), 15 March 1982.
Brisset, S., "Les hommes qui aimaient les femmes . . . ," in Cinéma 90, November 1990.
Douin, Jean-Luc, "Simone sort ses griffes," in Télérama (Paris), 17 March 1993.
On SIMON: book—
Parish, James Robert, and William T. Leonard, Hollywood Players: The Thirties, New Rochelle, New York, 1976.
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Simone Simon was originally brought to the United States to repeat her French ingenue roles. Even though a talented actress, she never achieved any level of popularity with American audiences. Twentieth Century-Fox even attempted to promote her as a singing star in Love and Hisses and Josette, but her weak voice undid that strategy. Her Hollywood films are mostly forgotten except for the quartet she made at RKO.
In All that Money Can Buy, Simon plays the devil's emissary who steals a good man away from his wife. This role probably led to her selection as the lead in her best-known American film, Cat People, and its sequel The Curse of the Cat People. Playing a foreign wife who fears the consequences of sex, her accent adds to the films' strange atmospheric qualities. Finally she made Mademoiselle Fifi, an adaptation of two de Maupassant stories about a French laundress who defies the occupying German forces during the Franco-Prussian War. This patriotic indictment of collaboration was unpopular in the United States, and although it was the first American film to be shown in France after the Normandy invasion, it failed to find an audience. Thus, what some critics consider to be Simon's best Hollywood work went largely unseen, and she returned to Europe and her minor triumphs in Ophüls's La Ronde and Le Plaisir.