Arnaud, Yvonne (1892–1958)

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Arnaud, Yvonne (1892–1958)

English actress and pianist. Born Yvonne Germaine Arnaud in Bordeaux, France, on December 20, 1892; died in Surrey, England, on September 20, 1958; daughter of Charles Léon Arnaud and Antoinette (de Montegut) Arnaud; educated in Paris; married Hugh McLellan (a theater manager).

In 1905, 13-year-old Yvonne Arnaud was awarded first prize for her piano playing at the Paris Conservatoire and subsequently toured Europe and America as a youthful prodigy. In 1911, with little preparation for the stage, 19-year-old Arnaud made her acting debut as Princess Mathilde in The Quaker Girl at London's Adelphi Theater. The following year, she met with success when she opened at the Lyric as Suzanne in The Girl in the Taxi. Arnaud advanced her reputation in light comedies and musicals throughout World War I, soon aware that her French accent was a chief asset. Long popular on the British stage, Arnaud managed to maintain her Gallic inflections throughout a nearly 50-year residency in England.

Through the 1930s and 1940s, she added Shaw and Shakespeare to her repertoire, playing the Princess of France in Henry V (1934), and Mrs. Frail in Love for Love (1943). Her English husband Hugh McLellan had much to do with the creation and management of the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, a repertory playhouse that still bears her name. Starting in 1924, Arnaud also appeared in many films, including On Approval (1931), A Cuckoo in the Nest (1933), The Improper Duchess (1936), Stormy Weather (1936), Neutral Port (1940), Tomorrow We Live (1942), and The Ghosts of Berkeley Square (1947).

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