Simon, Simone (1910—)

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Simon, Simone (1910—)

French actress. Born on April 23, 1910, in Béthune, France; attended schools in Berlin, Budapest, and Turin; never married; no children.

Selected filmography:

Le Chanteur inconnu (Fr., 1931); Mam'zelle Nitouche (Fr., 1931); Tire-au-Flanc (Fr., 1933); Le Lac aux Dames (Fr., 1934); Les Yeux noirs (Dark Eyes, Fr., 1935); Les Beaux Jours (Fr., 1935); Girls' Dormitory (US, 1936); Ladies in Love (US, 1936); Seventh Heaven (US, 1937); Love and Hisses (US, 1937); Josette (US, 1938); La Bête humaine (The Human Beast, Fr., 1938); All That Money Can Buy (1941); Cat People(1942); Tahiti Honey (1943); The Curse of the Cat People (1944); Mademoiselle Fifi (1944); Pétrus (Fr., 1946); Temptation Harbor (UK, 1947); Donne senza Nome (Women Without Names, It., 1950); La Ronde (Fr., 1950); Olivia (Pit of Loneliness, Fr., 1951); La Plaisir (House of Pleasure, Fr., 1952); Double Destin (Fr., 1955); The Extra Day (UK, 1956); La Femme en Bleu (1973).

Although it was once rumored that actress Simone Simon was the love child of Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst, she was in fact born in 1910 in Béthune, France, to a French engineer father and an Italian mother. After living in a number of European locales as a child, Simon and her family settled in Paris when she was in her teens. There, she worked briefly as a fashion designer and model before she was discovered in a Paris café by Russian director Victor Tourjansky, who offered her a part in his forthcoming Paris-lo-cation movie, Le Chanteur inconnu (1931). Audiences were enchanted by Simon, with her petite stature and kittenish quality. After roles in several additional French films, among them Mam'zelle Nitouche (1931), Le Lac aux Dames (1934), and Les Beaux Jours (1935), Simone came to the attention of 20th Century-Fox, which brought her to America billed as "Europe's Sweetheart."

It was not an easy transition for Simone, who for the next two years had a running battle with the studio over the roles they selected for her and their efforts to give her a sleeker, more glamorous appearance. From the studio's point of view, she was temperamental and uncooperative. Fox replaced her with Claudette Colbert in Under Two Flags (1936), intended as her American debut, relegating her to a small role in Girls' Dormitory (1936) instead. She subsequently appeared in Seventh Heaven (1937), Love and Hisses (1937), and Josette (1938), gaining quite a following. Despite her growing popularity, however, she returned to France.

Following her glowing performance in Claude Renoir's La Bête humaine (The Human Beast, 1938), she was invited back to Hollywood. Her second visit proved to be more productive. The best of her second round of American films, Cat People (1942), was praised by Pauline Kael as revolutionary in the horror movie genre for its artful use of suggestion, sound effect, and camera angles; Cat People and its sequel Curse of the Cat People (1943) are now considered classics. During the early 1940s, in addition to her film work, Simon made a few vaudeville appearances and starred in the illfated musical Three After Three, which closed before making it to Broadway.

At the end of World War II, Simon once again returned to France. She continued to make French, English, and European movies throughout the mid-1950s, then was not seen on the screen again until 1973, when she appeared in La Femme en Bleu. She did make an appearance on the Paris stage in 1966, in La Courte Paille opposite Jean Meyer. The actress never married, although her relationship with a wealthy married Frenchman was the talk of Paris for many years.


Halliwell, Leslie. Halliwell's Film Guide. NY: Scribner, 1983.

Katz, Ephraim. The Film Encyclopedia. NY: Harper-Collins, 1994.

Lamparski, Richard. Whatever Became of …? 2nd series. NY: Crown, 1967.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts