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Casares, Maria (1922–1996)

Casares, Maria (1922–1996)

Spanish-born French actress, best known for starring in the plays of Shakespeare and the existentialists. Name variations: Maria Casares Quiroga; Casarès. Born Maria Casarès Quiroga in La Coruña, Spain, on November 21, 1922; died at her home outside La Rochelle in the western Brittany region of France, on November 22, 1996; daughter of Santiago Casares Quiroga, a pro-Republic politician and diplomat; studied acting at the Paris Conservatoire.


Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise, 1945); Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne (Ladies of the Park, 1945); Roger-la-Honte (1946); La Septième Porte (1946); La Revenche de Roger-la-Honte (1946); L'Amour autour de la Maison (1946); La Chartreuse de Parme (1948); Bagarres (The Wench, 1948); L'Homme qui revient de Loin (1949); Orphée (Orpheus, 1950); Ombre et Lumière (1951); Testament d'Orphée (Testament of Orpheus, 1960); La Reine verte (1964); La Lectrice (1989); Les Chevaliers de la table ronde (1990).

Born in La Coruña, Spain, in 1922, Maria Casares immigrated to France in 1936. Her father was a pro-Republic politician when the Spanish Civil War began in July 1936, and Maria and her mother took refuge north of the Pyrenees after Francisco Franco's victory. In her new homeland, she studied acting at the Conservatoire in Paris. During World War II, she performed at the Mathurins theater, working with director Marcel Herrand. While there, she appeared in J.M. Synge's Deidre des douleurs (Deidre of the Sorrows) and existentialist plays such as Albert Camus' La Malentendu and Jean-Paul Sartre's Le Diable et le Bon Dieu. From 1945 to 1949, Casares starred in important films, such as Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne, Jean Cocteau's Orphée, Les Enfants du Paradis, and La Chartreuse de Parme. Preferring the stage, however, she returned to theater. Independent by nature, Casares often changed companies and constantly explored new roles. She excelled at both classical and modern drama and earned distinction as one of France's fore-most actresses, appearing in nearly every classic female stage role, from Medea to Lady Macbeth. In 1988, she won the coveted Molière Prize for best comedienne; in 1990, she was awarded the National Grand Prix of Theater.


Casarés, Maria. Residente privilegiada. Barcelona: Editorial Argos Vergara, 1981.

Dussane, Beatrix. Maria Casarés. Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1953.

Kendall W. Brown , Provo, Utah

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