Simone Signoret

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Simone Signoret
BornSimone Henriette Charlotte Kaminker
(1921-03-25)25 March 1921
Wiesbaden, Germany
Died30 September 1985(1985-09-30) (aged 64)
Autheuil-Authouillet, France
Years active1942–1985
Spouse(s)Yves Allégret (1944-1949)
Yves Montand (1951-1985)
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Simone Signoret
BornSimone Henriette Charlotte Kaminker
(1921-03-25)25 March 1921
Wiesbaden, Germany
Died30 September 1985(1985-09-30) (aged 64)
Autheuil-Authouillet, France
Years active1942–1985
Spouse(s)Yves Allégret (1944-1949)
Yves Montand (1951-1985)

Simone Signoret (French pronunciation: [simɔn siɲɔˈʁɛ]; 25 March 1921 – 30 September 1985) was a French cinema actress often hailed as one of France's greatest film stars. She became the first French person to win an Academy Award, for her role in Room at the Top (1959). In her lifetime she also received a César, a BAFTA, an Emmy, a Golden Globe, Cannes Film Festival recognition and the Silver Bear for Best Actress.


Early life

Signoret was born Simone Henriette Charlotte Kaminker in Wiesbaden, Germany to André and Georgette (Signoret) Kaminker as the eldest of three children, with two younger brothers. Her father, a pioneering interpreter who worked in the League of Nations, was a French-born Jewish army officer of Polish descent,[1] who brought the family to Neuilly-sur-Seine on the outskirts of Paris. Her mother Georgette, from whom she acquired her stage name, was a French Catholic.[2] Signoret grew up in Paris in an intellectual atmosphere and studied the English language in school, earning a teaching certificate. She tutored English and Latin and worked part-time as a typist for a French collaborationist newspaper, Les nouveaux temps, run by Jean Luchaire.


During the German occupation of France, Signoret mixed with an artistic group of writers and actors who met at a café in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter, Café de Flore. By this time, she had developed an interest in acting and was encouraged by her friends, including her lover, Daniel Gélin, to follow her ambition. In 1942, she began appearing in bit parts and was able to earn enough money to support her mother and two brothers as her father, who was a French patriot, had fled the country in 1940 to join General De Gaulle in England. She took her mother's maiden name for the screen to help hide her Jewish roots.

Signoret's sensual features and earthy nature led to type-casting and she was often seen in roles as a prostitute. She won considerable attention in La Ronde (1950), a film which was banned briefly in New York as immoral. She won further acclaim, including an acting award from the British Film Academy, for her portrayal of another prostitute in Jacques Becker's Casque d'or (1951). She appeared in many notable films in France during the 1950s, including Thérèse Raquin (1953), directed by Marcel Carné, Les Diaboliques (1954), and The Crucible (Les Sorcières de Salem; 1956), based on Arthur Miller's The Crucible.

Simone Signoret with Laurence Harvey in Room at the Top; the film established her as an international actress.

In 1958, Signoret acted in the English set Room at the Top (1959), which won her numerous awards including the Best Female Performance Prize at Cannes and the Academy Award for Best Actress. She was the only French cinema actress to receive an Oscar until Juliette Binoche in 1997 (Supporting Actress) and Marion Cotillard in 2008 (Best Actress), and the first woman to win the award appearing in a foreign film. She was offered films in Hollywood, but turned them down and continued to work in France and England. She played opposite Laurence Olivier in Term of Trial (1962). She did work in America for Ship of Fools (1965), which earned her another Oscar nomination, and appeared in a few other Hollywood films before returning to France in 1969.

In 1962 she translated Lillian Hellman's play The Little Foxes into French for a production in Paris that ran for six months at the Theatre Sarah-Bernhardt. She played the Regina role as well. Hellman was displeased with the production, although the translation was approved by scholars selected by Hellman.[3]

Her one attempt at Shakespeare, performing Lady Macbeth opposite Alec Guinness at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 1966 proved to be ill-advised, although some critics were harsher and one referred to her English as "impossibly Gallic".[4]

In her later years, she was often criticised for gaining weight and letting her looks go, but Signoret, who was never concerned with glamour, ignored the insults and continued giving finely etched performances. She won more acclaim for her portrayal of a weary madam in Madame Rosa (1977) and as an unmarried sister who unknowingly falls in love with her paralyzed brother via anonymous correspondence in I Sent a Letter to my Love (1980).

Her memoirs, Nostalgia Isn't What It Used To Be, were published in 1978. She also wrote a novel, Adieu Volodya, published in 1985, the year of her death.

First married to the filmmaker Yves Allégret (1944–49), with whom she had a daughter Catherine Allégret, herself an actress. Her second marriage was to the Italian-born French actor Yves Montand in 1950, a union which lasted until her death.

A lifelong chain smoker, she died of pancreatic cancer in Auteuil-Anthouillet, France, and is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris next to her second husband.


1942Boléroemployée de maison de couture, UneUne employée de maison de coutureuncredited
1942Visiteurs du Soir, LesLes Visiteurs du SoirExtrauncredited
1942Prince charmant, LeLe Prince charmant
1943Adieu Léonardgitane, LaLa gitaneuncredited
1943voyageur de la Toussaint, LeLe voyageur de la ToussaintExtrauncredited
1944L'Ange de la nuitétudiante, UneUne étudianteuncredited
1944Mort ne reçoit plus, LeLe Mort ne reçoit plusLa maitresse de Firmin
1944Service de nuitdanseuse à la taverne, LaLa danseuse à la taverne
1944Béatrice devant le désir
1945Boîte aux rêves, LaLa Boîte aux rêvesfemme, UneUne femmeuncredited
1946Back Streets of ParisGisèle
1946Couple idéal, LeLe Couple idéalAnnette
1946Démons de l'aube, LesLes Démons de l'aubeLily, la cabaretière
1948Impasse des deux angesMarianne
1948Dédée d'AnversDédée
1948Against the WindMichele Dennis
1950Gunman in the StreetsDenise Vernona French version was also filmed as Le Traqué
1950Ronde, LaLa RondeLeocadie, the Prostitute
1950Swiss TourYvonne
1951Ombre et lumièreIsabelle Leritz
1951...Sans laisser d'adressejournaliste, UneUne journalisteuncredited
1952Casque d'orMarie 'Casque d'Or'BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
1953Thérèse RaquinThérèse Raquin
1955Mother Courage and Her ChildrenYvette, Lagerhure
1955Diaboliques, LesLes DiaboliquesNicole HornerDiabolique
1956matin comme les autres, UnUn matin comme les autresJanine Alix
1956Death in the GardenDjin
1957Crucible, TheThe CrucibleElisabeth ProcterBAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
1957Die Windrose
1959Room at the TopAlice Aisgill
1960Adua and FriendsAdua Giovannetti
1960Mauvais Coups, LesLes Mauvais CoupsRoberte
1960Amours célèbresJennysegment "Jenny de Lacour"
1962Giorno più corto, IlIl Giorno più cortoUnconfirmed
1962Term of TrialAnna
1963Sweet and SourGenevieve
1963Jour et l'heure, LeLe Jour et l'heureTherese Dutheil
1965Sleeping Car Murders, TheThe Sleeping Car MurdersEliane Darès
1965Ship of FoolsContessa, LaLa Contessa
1966Is Paris Burning?patronne du bistrot/Cafe Owner, LaLa patronne du bistrot/Cafe Owner
1966Deadly Affair, TheThe Deadly AffairElsa FennanNominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
1967GamesLisa SchindlerNominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
1968Sea Gull, TheThe Sea GullArkadina, an actress
1969Army of ShadowsMathilde
1969Mr. Freedomuncredited cameo
1970Confession, TheThe ConfessionMme L. aka Lise London
1971Veuve Couderc, LaLa Veuve CoudercVeuve Couderc Tati
1971Chat, LeLe ChatClémence BouinSilver Bear for Best Actress at the 21st Berlin International Film Festival[5]
1971Comptes à reboursLéa
1973Rude journée pour la reineJeanne
1973Granges brulées, LesLes Granges bruléesRose
1975Chair de l'orchidée, LaLa Chair de l'orchidéeLady Vamos
1976Police Python 357Thérèse Ganay
1977Madame RosaMadame Rosa
1978Judith TherpauveJudith Therpauve
1979Adolescent, TheThe AdolescentMamie
1980Chère inconnueLouise
1982Guy de MaupassantMaupassant's mother
1982L'étoile du nordMme Louise BaronNominated — César Award for Best Actress

Television award

Emmy Awards

Popular Culture

See also


  1. ^ Nostalgia Isn't What It Used to Be (Paperback) was descended from Polish Jews. Film 7 August 2000.
  2. ^ SImone Signoret - Women's Studies
  3. ^ Signoret, Simone, Nostalgia Isn't What It Used to Be, Harper & Row, 1978, pp 324-28
  4. ^ Sutcliffe, Tom. Sir Alec Guinness. Film 7 August 2000.
  5. ^ "Berlinale 1971: Prize Winners". Retrieved 2010-03-14.


External links