Arnould-Plessy, Jeanne (1819–1897)

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Arnould-Plessy, Jeanne (1819–1897)

French actress Name variations: Jeanne Plessy. Born Jeanne Sylvanie Plessy in Metz on September 7, 1819; died in 1897; daughter of a local actor named Plessy; married J.F. Arnould (a playwright), in 1845 (died 1854).

A pupil of Samson at the Paris Conservatoire in 1829, Jeanne Arnould-Plessy made her début as Emma at the Comédie Française in 1834, in Alexandre Duval's La Fille d'honneur. She enjoyed instant success. Mlle Mars , to whom the public compared her, became her benefactor. Though assigned prominent parts in all plays, new and old, Arnould-Plessy suddenly left Paris at the height of her success in 1845 and moved to London, marrying the playwright J.F. Arnould, a man much older than herself. After trying in vain to lure her back, the Comédie Française brought a suit against her and was awarded heavy damages. In the meantime, she accepted an engagement at the French theater at St. Petersburg, Russia, where she played for nine years.

In 1855, following the death of her husband, Arnould-Plessy returned to Paris and was readmitted to the Comédie Française, as pensionnaire (resident) with an engagement for eight years. This second half of her career proved even more brilliant than the first. Though she revived some of her old roles, she began to abandon the jeunes premières (first ingenue) for the "lead," in which she had a success unequalled since the retirement of Mars. Her later triumphs were especially associated with new plays by Émile Augier, Le Fils de Giboyer and Maître Guerin. After her appearance in Edouard Cadol's La Grand-maman, Jeanne Arnould-Plessy retired in 1876.

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