Michèle Morgan (French: [miʃɛl mɔʁɡan]; 29 February 1920 – 20 December 2016) was a French film actress, who was a leading lady for three decades in both French cinema and Hollywood features. She is considered to have been one of the great French actresses of the twentieth century. Morgan was the inaugural winner of the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1992, she was given an honorary César Award for her contributions to French cinema.
Morgan left home at the age of 15 for Paris determined to become an actress. She took acting lessons from René Simon while serving as an extra in several films to pay for her drama classes. It was then that she took the stage name "Michèle Morgan". She argued that she did not have the body type of a Simone, and "Morgan" sounded more Hollywood-friendly.
Morgan was first noticed by director Marc Allégret, who offered her a major role in the film Gribouille (1937), opposite Raimu. Then came Le Quai des brumes (1938) directed by Marcel Carné (1938), opposite Jean Gabin, and Remorques (1941) directed by Jean Grémillon.
Upon the invasion of France in 1940 by the Germans, Morgan left for the United States and Hollywood where she was contracted to RKO Pictures in 1941. Her career there proved rather disappointing, apart from Joan of Paris (1942) opposite Paul Henreid, and Higher and Higher (1943) opposite Frank Sinatra. She was tested and strongly considered for the female lead in Casablanca but RKO would not release her for the amount of money that Warner Bros. offered. Morgan did work for Warners however in Passage to Marseille (1944) with Humphrey Bogart.
After the war, Morgan returned to France and quickly resumed her career with the film La Symphonie Pastorale (1946) directed by Jean Delannoy, which earned her the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival. Her Other films from this period include; Carol Reed's The Fallen Idol (1948), Fabiola (1949), The Proud and the Beautiful (1953) by Yves Allégret, Les Grandes Manœuvres (1955) by René Clair and Marie-Antoinette reine de France (1956). She continued working in films throughout the 1960s, such as in Lost Command (1966), a version of Les Centurions. In the 1970s, she virtually retired from her acting career, then made only occasional appearances in film, television and theatre.
For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Morgan has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1645 Vine Street. In 1969, the government of France awarded her the Légion d'Honneur. For her long service to the French motion picture industry, in 1992 she was given an Honorary César Award. In 1996, she also received the Career Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the Venice Film Festival.
Morgan took up painting in the 1960s. She had a solo exhibition, "Artistes En Lumière à Paris", from 2 March to 30 April 2009, at the Espace Cardin in Paris. In 1977 she released her memoir, titled With Those Eyes (Avec ces yeux-là).
While in Hollywood, Morgan married William Marshall (1917–1994), in 1942, with whom she had a son, Mike Marshall (1944–2005). Morgan and Marshall divorced in 1948. She married French actor Henri Vidal (1919–1959) in 1950. She remained with him until his death in 1959. She then lived with film director and actor/writer Gérard Oury until his death in 2006.
Morgan died on 20 December 2016, aged 96, in Meudon, France of natural causes. Her funeral was held at the Église Saint-Pierre in Neuilly-sur-Seine on 23 December 2016, and she was buried at the Montparnasse Cemetery.
|1935||Mademoiselle Mozart||The trainer of the white elephant||Yvan Noé||credited as Simone Morgan|
|1937||Gribouille||Nathalie Roguin||Marc Allégret||remade as The Lady in Question in 1940|
|1938||Orage||Françoise Massart||Marc Allégret||with Charles Boyer|
|Port of Shadows||Nelly||Marcel Carné||with Jean Gabin|
|Nightclub Hostess||Suzy||Albert Valentin||written by Charles Spaak|
|1939||Coral Reefs||Lilian White||Maurice Gleize||with Jean Gabin|
|Musicians of the Sky||Lieutnant Saulnier||Georges Lacombe||with Michel Simon|
|1940||Stormy Waters||Catherine||Jean Grémillon||based on a novel by Roger Vercel|
|The Heart of a Nation||Marie Froment-Léonard||Julien Duvivier||with Raimu|
|1941||My Life with Caroline||"Annette" (uncredited)||Lewis Milestone||written by John Van Druten|
|1942||La Loi du nord||Jacqueline Bert||Jacques Feyder||based on a novel by Maurice Constantin-Weyer|
|Joan of Paris||Joan||Robert Stevenson||with Paul Henreid|
|1943||Two Tickets to London||Jeanne||Edwin L. Marin||with Alan Curtis|
|Higher and Higher||Millie Pico alias Paméla Drake||Tim Whelan||Frank Sinatra's film debut|
|1944||Passage to Marseille||Paula||Michael Curtiz||with Humphrey Bogart|
|1946||The Chase||Lorna Roman||Arthur Ripley||with Robert Cummings|
|La Symphonie pastorale||Gertrude (the young blind woman)||Jean Delannoy||with Pierre Blanchar|
|1947||The Fallen Idol||Julie||Carol Reed||with Ralph Richardson and Bobby Henrey.|
|1948||To the Eyes of Memory||Claire Magny||Jean Delannoy||with Jean Marais|
|1949||The Fighting Gladiator||Fabiola||Alessandro Blasetti||with Henri Vidal|
|Here Is the Beauty||Jeanne Morel||Jean-Paul Le Chanois||based on a novel by Vicki Baum|
|1950||The Glass Castle||Evelyne Lorin-Bertal||René Clément||two versions, one filmed in Italian|
|The Strange Madame X||Irène Voisin-Larive||Jean Grémillon||with Henri Vidal|
|The Naked Heart||Maria Chapdelaine||Marc Allégret||based on the novel by Louis Hémon|
|1951||The Seven Deadly Sins||Anne-Marie de Pallières||Claude Autant-Lara||episode "Pride"|
|1952||The Moment of Truth||Madeleine Richard||Jean Delannoy||with Jean Gabin|
|1953||The Proud and the Beautiful||Nelly||Yves Allégret||with Gérard Philipe|
|1954||Love, Soldiers and Women||Joan of Arc||Jean Delannoy||episode "Jeanne"|
|Obsession||Hélène Giovanni||Jean Delannoy||based on a novel by Cornell Woolrich|
|Napoléon||Joséphine de Beauharnais||Sacha Guitry||Daniel Gélin/Raymond Pellegrin as Napoléon|
|1955||The Grand Maneuver||Marie-Louise Rivière||René Clair||with Gérard Philipe|
|Marguerite of the Night||Marguerite||Claude Autant-Lara||with Yves Montand|
|Marie Antoinette Queen of France||Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France||Jean Delannoy||with Richard Todd|
|If Paris Were Told to Us||Gabrielle d'Estrées||Sacha Guitry||portraying the mistress of Henry IV of France|
|1956||Oasis||Françoise Lignières||Yves Allégret||with Pierre Brasseur|
|1957||The Vintage||Léonne Morel||Jeffrey Hayden||with Mel Ferrer|
|There's Always a Price Tag||Hélène Fréminger||Denys de La Patellière||with Daniel Gélin and Peter van Eyck|
|1958||The Mirror Has Two Faces||Marie-Josée Tardivet, Pierre's wife||André Cayatte||with Bourvil and Ivan Desny|
|Maxime||Jacqueline Monneron||Henri Verneuil||with Charles Boyer|
|Girls for the Summer||Micheline||Gianni Franciolini||comedy with Alberto Sordi|
|1959||Menschen im Hotel||La Grusinskaïa||Gottfried Reinhardt||with O. W. Fischer|
|Winter Holidays||Steffa Tardier||Camillo Mastrocinque||with Georges Marchal|
|The Wretches||Thelma Rooland||Robert Hossein||with Olivier Hussenot|
|Why Do You Come So Late?||Catherine Ferrer||Henri Decoin||with Henri Vidal|
|1960||Fortunat||Juliette Valcourt||Alex Joffé||title character played by Bourvil|
|1961||Three Faces of Sin||Renée Plège||François Villiers||with Jean-Claude Brialy|
|The Lions Are Loose||Cécile||Henri Verneuil||with Jean-Claude Brialy|
|1962||Landru||Célestine Buisson||Claude Chabrol||with Charles Denner|
|Meetings||Bella Krastner||Philippe Agostini||with Gabriele Ferzetti|
|Crime Does Not Pay||Jeanne Hugues||Gérard Oury||episode "The Hugues Case"|
|The Winner||As herself||François Reichenbach||Louis Delluc Prize, Golden Leopard|
|1963||Be Careful Ladies||Denise Duparc||André Hunebelle||with Paul Meurisse|
|Web of Fear||Constance||François Villiers||with Dany Saval|
|1964||Marked Eyes||Florence||Robert Hossein||starring the film's director|
|The Last Steps||Yolande Simonet||Jacques Robin||with Jean-Louis Trintignant|
|The Scapegoat||Princess Sofia||Duccio Tessari||based on a novel by Francesco Dall'Ongaro|
|1965||Tell Me Whom to Kill||Geneviève Montanet||Étienne Périer||with Paul Hubschmid|
|1966||Lost Command||The Countess of Clairfond||Mark Robson||with Anthony Quinn|
|1967||La Bien-aimée||Fanny Dréal||Jacques Doniol-Valcroze||TV film|
|The Diary of an Innocent Boy||The Countess||Michel Deville||with Pierre Clémenti and Michel Piccoli|
|1975||Cat and Mouse||Madame Richard||Claude Lelouch||with Serge Reggiani|
|1986||Le Tiroir secret||Colette Dutilleul-Lemarchand||Édouard Molinaro, Roger Gillioz, Michel Boisrond, Nadine Trintignant||TV miniseries, 6 episodes|
|1990||Everybody's Fine||A woman in the train||Giuseppe Tornatore||with Marcello Mastroianni|
She made her screen debut at 15 in "Mademoiselle Mozart" in France.
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