SIMONE SIGNORET Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Simone Signoret                                                                                           
Birth name: Simone Henriette Charlotte Kaminker                                                                 
Born: 25 March 1921 Wiesbaden, Germany                                                                           
Died: 30 September 1985 Auteuil-Anthouillet, France                                                             
Simone Signoret (March 25, 1921-September 30, 1985), was an Academy Award, Emmy, BAFTA, Berlin Silver Bear,     
Volpi Cup, Cesar, David di Donatello and National Board of Review winning Jewish-French                         
She was born Simone-Henriette-Charlotte Kaminker in Wiesbaden, Germany to André                                 
and Georgette (Signoret) Kaminker. She was the oldest child of three, with two                                   
younger brothers. Her father, a linguist who later worked in the United Nations,                                 
was a French-born Jewish army officer of Polish descent, who brought the                                         
family to Neuilly-sur-Seine on the fancy outskirts of Paris. 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, Le Nouveau Temps, run by                                   
Jean Luchaire.                                                                                                   
During the German occupation of France, Signoret formed close bonds with an                                     
artistic group of writers and actors who met at a cafe in the Saint-Germain-des-Pres                             
quarter, Cafe de Flore. By this time, she had developed an interest in acting                                   
and was encouraged by her friends, including her lover, Daniel Gelin, 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 prostitute roles. She won considerable attention in La Ronde (1950),                               
a film which was banned briefly in New York as immoral. She won further raves,                                   
including an acting award from the British Film Academy, for her portrayal of                                   
yet another prostitute in Jacques Becker's Casque d'or (1951). She went on to                                   
appear in many notable films in France during the 1950s, including Therèse                                     
Raquin (1953), directed by Marcel Carné, Les Diaboliques (1954), and 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 the first French actress and the first woman to win the Academy Award for                                 
Best Actress appearing in a foreign film.                                                                       
In 1958, Signoret went to England to film 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 the second French actress (after                               
Claudette Colbert) to receive an Oscar until Juliette Binoche in 1997 (Supporting                               
Actress) and Marion Cotillard in 2008 (Lead 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 Sir Laurence Olivier in Term of Trial (1962). She did return to America                                 
for Ship of Fools (1965) which earned her another Oscar nomination and she went                                 
on to appear in several Hollywood films before returning to France in 1969.                                     
Her one attempt at Shakespeare, playing 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".                               
In her later years, she was often criticized 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 (Madame Rosa) in La Vie devant soi (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 from 1947 to 1949, 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.                                                                                                 
In Playboy she was shown once in an embrace with Robert Mitchum. She was nude                                   
above the waist, and the magazine's caption used the term "a big bare hug."                                     
She died of pancreatic cancer in Auteuil-Anthouillet, France; and is buried in                                   
Le Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.                                                                             
The late American singer, pianist and composer Nina Simone took her stage name                                   
from Signoret.