Michèle Morgan

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Michèle Morgan
Michèle Morgan - The Chase.jpg
A publicity photo for The Chase
Born Simone Renée Roussel
(1920-02-29) 29 February 1920 (age 99)
Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France
Occupation Actress
Years active 1935–1999
Spouse(s) William Marshall (1942–1948)
(1 child)
Henri Vidal (1950–1959)
(his death)
Gérard Oury (1960–2006)
(his death)
Children Mike Marshall (1944–2005)

Michèle Morgan (pronounced: [miʃɛl mɔʁɡan]; born 29 February 1920) is a French film actress, who was a leading lady for three decades.


From the trailer for The Vintage (1957)

Morgan was born Simone Renée Roussel[1][2] in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, a wealthy western suburb of Paris.

She 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. Her beauty was noticed by director Marc Allégret who offered her a major role in the film Gribouille in 1937, opposite Raimu. Then came the film Le Quai des brumes by Marcel Carné in 1938, opposite the great French actor Jean Gabin, and Remorques in 1941. These two films established her as one of the leading actress of the time in French cinema.

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. Her career there proved rather disappointing, apart from Joan of Paris opposite Paul Henreid in 1942, Higher and Higher opposite Frank Sinatra in 1943. 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.[3] Morgan did work for Warners in Passage to Marseille opposite Humphrey Bogart in 1944. Nothing major came her way.


The war over, Morgan returned to France and quickly picked up her career with the 1946 film, La Symphonie Pastorale by Jean Delannoy, which earned her the "Best Actress" award at the Cannes Film Festival. Other notable films 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, Marie-Antoinette reine de France (1956).

Morgan continued working in films throughout the 1960s, notably in Lost Command, a 1966 film version of Les Centurions. In the 1970s, she virtually retired from her acting career, then made occasional appearances on 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 Legion of Honor. 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 achieved her greatest popularity in French cinema during the 1940s and 1950s,[4] although she is mostly unknown outside France. She published her autobiography entitled Avec ces yeux-là in 1977.[5]

She also paints and has done so since the 1960s. She often paints fish because a fish is her zodiac sign. While others were on the barricades in May 1968, she was painting abstract objects.[6] She had a solo exhibition at the Paris gallery "Artistes En Lumière à Paris" (2 March – 30 April 2009).[7]

Personal life

While in Hollywood, she married actor 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 unexpected early death in 1959. She then lived with film director and actor/writer Gérard Oury until his death in 2006. Morgan has six grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren.

In popular culture

The Los Angeles house she commissioned in 1941 at 10050 Cielo Drive later became famous as the site of the Manson family murders in 1969.[8]

Selected filmography

Year Title Role Director Notes
1935 Mademoiselle Mozart The trainer of the white elefant 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
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 A Man and a Woman: 20 Years Later A spectator Claude Lelouch uncredited
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


  1. "Simone Renée Roussel (Michèle Morgan)". Geneall.net. Retrieved 2008-12-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Michèle Morgan". Cinémathèque française. Retrieved 2009-07-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Lanzoni, Rémi Fournier (2004). French Cinema: From its Beginnings to the Present. Continium International Publishing Group. p. 107.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Michèle Morgan". Films de France. Retrieved 2009-06-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Avec ces yeux-là (Broché)". Amazon.fr. Retrieved 2008-12-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Beaune, Mathilde de (24 March 2009). "Michèle Morgan". Art and You.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Michèle Morgan, 89 ans, s'expose en couleurs!". Purepeople.com. 5 February 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Tate/Polanski Residence, 10050 Cielo Drive". Archived from the original on 2007-08-14. Retrieved 2007-11-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Lloyd, Ann (1987). The Illustrated Who's Who of the cinema. Gramercy. ISBN 0-517-64419-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Morgan, Michèle (01/05/1977). Avec ces yeux-là. Robert Laffont. ISBN 978-2-221-00222-3. Check date values in: |date= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Cousins, R. F. "Michèle Morgan". Film Reference. Retrieved 2009-06-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links