Michèle Morgan Poster

Trivia (58)

Was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1969, raised to Officer in 1994, to Grand Officer in 2009 and received the Grand-Croix in 2013.

Her son Mike Marshall, born in 1944, became an actor in both France and Hollywood. He decided this was the path he wanted to take after Michèle brought him to see the shooting of her movie, The Grand Maneuver (1955), and he set eyes on her co-star, Gérard Philipe.

President of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1971.

Member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1972.

In her autobiography "Avec ces yeux-là", she tells an ominous anecdote about moving to Hollywood during WWII. Once she arrived, she had a house built at 10050 Cielo Drive, slightly isolated from the other star mansions. She was really scared at the thought of staying alone at the place and claimed that she often heard "sinister" noises. She initially hired some domestics to keep her company, but eventually sent them away when they turned out to be drunkards and thieves. For a while she kept living there with a friend, but, once she married William Marshall, he demanded that she sell the mansion and move in with him because, in his family's conservative views, it was dishonorable for a man to live at his woman's place. In 1969 the house became site of Sharon Tate's murder by the followers of Charles Manson.

Left home at age 15 with her younger brother Paul to pursue an acting career. After winning an extra role in Meet Miss Mozart (1936) through some casting agencies, the movie's director, Yvan Noé, suggested that she perfect her acting technique by taking lessons. One year later she entered René Simon's course of Dramatic Arts (which a few more extra roles helped paying) and chose the pseudonym of Michèle Morgan.

After The Diary of an Innocent Boy (1968), she has concentrated on painting, designing ties and writing poems. She established her own tie label "Cravates Michèle Morgan" in the late 1970s.

Was considered for the role of Ilsa Lund in Casablanca (1942), but RKO wouldn't release her for the amount of money Warner Bros. was offering and Ingrid Bergman was cast instead.

Although married to Gérard Oury, they did not live under the same roof.

During a dinner with the cast and crew of Port of Shadows (1938), her co-star Pierre Brasseur made several off-color and inappropriate remarks to her, something that leading actor and Michèle's suitor Jean Gabin found greatly irritating. The following day Brasseur apologized to Michèle by bringing her flowers, but then he had to shoot a scene where his character, Lucien, gets punched in the face by Gabin's protagonist Jean. Instead of faking the punch, Gabin hit Brasseur really hard. The latter knew what it was for and said nothing. The scene was lauded by critics for its realistic feeling.

When she arrived in the US to pursue a Hollywood career, the first person to welcome her was fellow RKO star Ginger Rogers, who was supposed to acquaint her with everyone at the studios. Ironically, Rogers would later become the third wife of Morgan's first husband, actor and director William Marshall.

Her marriage to Henri Vidal was a difficult one because of his chronic drug addiction and jealousy towards all of her male co-stars, especially Jean Gabin.

Husband William Marshall nicknamed her "Mike" because of his difficulty in pronouncing 'Michèle" and his general dislike of France. They eventually called their son Mike Marshall.

Turned down Jeanne Moreau's role in La Notte (1961).

Was offered the role of Laura Reynolds in the original stage production of Robert Anderson's "Tea and Sympathy", but turned it down because she was scared of stage acting. The role was eventually played by Deborah Kerr.

Was immediately skeptical when she was cast in the Frank Sinatra vehicle Higher and Higher (1943), since she had no prior singing experience and was supposed to take a few lessons as quickly as possible. She thought the project to be therefore doomed from the start. The film was a failure and Michèle herself regards her own performance as a disaster.

After losing the role of Ilsa Lund in Casablanca (1942) to Ingrid Bergman, she was eventually teamed up with Humphrey Bogart in Michael Curtiz's subsequent feature Passage to Marseille (1944). Unhappy with all her English-language vehicles, Michèle regarded the shooting of the film as the absolute worst experience of her career, calling Curtiz (whom she described as a "Tartarian-faced Hungarian") the most detestable person she ever worked with and stating that she didn't receive the slightest support from Bogart, "who was already too concentrated on his own problems".

She starred in three movies with Charles Boyer: Storm (1938), Immortal France (1943) and Maxime (1958). She didn't much enjoy her first collaboration with the actor (whose behavior she found cold and detached) and was therefore critical of her own performance in the film because of this lack of ease. However, she eventually grew to like the actor much more during their future pairings, and to occasionally socialize with he and his wife.

Was the most successful French actress of the 1940s along with her friends Danielle Darrieux and Micheline Presle.

She had a very difficult marriage to William Marshall, whom she wed after having known him for just one month. She described his behavior as very despotic and scornful (he came from a very conservative family and had a lot of animosity towards France) and his foul temper only got worse after he was injured in the war. She later stated that she did really not know why she had married him in the first place, saying that her choice had to be due to physical attraction rather than a strong affection.

Her relationship with third husband Gérard Oury began on the set of Le miroir a deux faces (1958), when her marriage to actor Henri Vidal was already falling apart (he died at the early age of 40). Oury had so far enjoyed a very solid relationship with actress Jacqueline Roman, but, ironically, he had always been telling her: 'There's only one person I'd leave you for, and that's Michèle Morgan'.

When she was three years old, her father's colleague Marcel Schultz, who was an amateur astrologer, foresaw celebrity in her destiny. Turned out he was right.

Her relationship with second husband Henri Vidal secretly began during the shooting of Fabiola (1949), when her marriage to William Marshall was already falling to pieces. Wishing to gain custody of son Mike Marshall once he and Michèle would have divorced, William hired some private detectives to follow her and eventually managed to have her photographed in bed with Vidal. Michèle therefore lost custody of Mike due to adultery, which is ironic, since William had been doing the same thing the whole time, as his relationship with second wife Micheline Presle had started during his marriage to Michèle. Mike consequently spent part of his childhood with William and his new wife Micheline, who helped raising him alongside her daughter Tonie Marshall. In spite of all this, Michèle never bore any hard feelings towards Micheline and always credited her for taking very good care of Mike as a second mother figure.

Her father, a departmental head in an export house of fragrances, found himself unemployed after the crisis of 1929 and relocated the family--which included Michèle and her three younger brothers--from the wealthy Parisian suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine to Dieppe (Seine-Maritime) in Upper Normandy. It was at the Dieppe Casino that Michèle began to attend stage shows and became enamored with the idea of acting.

Her only American hit was Robert Stevenson's Joan of Paris (1942), co-starring RKO leading man Paul Henreid as RAF pilot Paul Lavallier and cult favorite Laird Cregar in the brilliantly played role of Nazi functionary Herr Funk. Morgan herself detested the movie and didn't enjoy working with Henreid, whom she found very cold. Interestingly, her Joan character is a French resistance fighter who worships Joan of Arc and meets a similar fate. Michèle would later play St. Joan in a segment of Daughters of Destiny (1954). Also, in her 1952 movie The Moment of Truth (1952), Daniel Gélin plays an artist who's in love with her character and gives her facial features to a portrait of Joan of Arc.

She starred in five movies with Jean Gabin: Port of Shadows (1938), Coral Reefs (1939), Remorques (1941), The Moment of Truth (1952) and Napoleon (1955). This artistic partnership began when the actor was mesmerized by the performance of the young Morgan in Heart of Paris (1937) and wanted her to be his co-star in "Quai des brumes". Michèle stated that they already had some romantic feelings towards each other while shooting the movie (with him nicknaming her Miche or La Môme), but nothing came out of it because he was married and she wasn't of age yet. By the time they teamed up again the following year in "Remorques", Michèle knew from Gabin's secretary Micheline that he was divorcing wife Suzanne Mauchain and were so able to begin their love affair. In a case of life imitating art, just like Gabin's sailor character Captain Laurent has to go back to the sea and leave behind Morgan's Catherine indefinitely, Jean was separated from Michèle at the beginning of WW2 when he was recruited to the French Navy and sent to Cherbourg, narrowly managing to film the final scenes of the movie thanks to a special permit. They never resumed their relationship after he came back.

Husband William Marshall later married actress Micheline Presle. They first met when he and Michèle were staying at the Savoy Hotel during the shooting of her movie, The Fallen Idol (1948), in London. One day they ran into Micheline, who was staying at the hotel before a trip to the US. Michèle, who was her friend, immediately introduced her to William. William and Micheline later took the boat to America and started their affair. Years later, Michèle recalled with irony how, after the hotel encounter, she had mentioned to William how gorgeous Micheline looked, something "he had already noticed".

When she first arrived in Hollywood, she was immediately considered for the role of Lina in Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion (1941), but was passed over since her English wasn't deemed good enough. The role went to Joan Fontaine, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance. Knowing that she had been rejected for this reason, Michèle understood that she had to work hard to perfect her English and, for an entire year, saw a linguistic coach for several hours a day and improved considerably. In an ironic turn of events, she was later offered the role of Belinda in Johnny Belinda (1948), which producers supposed wouldn't give her any difficulty, since it was a mute one. Taking this as a mockery, Michèle turned down the offer. The part was given to Jane Wyman, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance. Michèle regards this choice as one of her biggest professional mistakes.

Auditioned for Marc Allégret's Heart of Paris (1937) under advice of script-girl and assistant director Jeanne Witta. The film's financier, Max Stoffel, was so won over by her acting that he immediately thought that she should have played the leading role of Natalie. The movie's success also lead RKO to offer her a Hollywood contract for 2000 francs a week.

Named Best Actress of 1950 by Cinémonde.

She was made an Officer of the French National Order of Merit in 1975.

Her career sadly took a downturn in the 60's when the French New Wave movement came along and its key directors decided to cut ties with classic French cinema, which many of them had largely despised since the days they had been serving as critics for the 'Cahiers du cinéma'. François Truffaut had historically been a detractor of Michèle's work and the only film she did by a New Wave auteur was Claude Chabrol's Bluebeard (1963) as a victim of Charles Denner's murderous title character who's eventually burned down by him to go up in smoke. Cast in movies of little interest for most of the decade, Michèle eventually decided to focus on other successful artistic activities and appeared in film very sporadically in the following years.

Her acting idols include Greta Garbo, Françoise Rosay and Gaby Morlay. During her Hollywood stay, she once saw Garbo walking down the street, but chose not to intrude, since she knew how much the great Swedish actress valued her privacy.

She was awarded the 'Victoire du cinéma Français' for Best Actress in 1954, 1955 and 1956.

She was made a Knight of the French Order of Arts and Letters in 1960.

While shooting The Proud and the Beautiful (1953) in Mexico, she didn't much bond with co-star Gérard Philipe, since he was too busy visiting the area with his family to give her a hand in her struggle to get her role extended and she was under the impression that he thought of her as too bourgeois (while she, in return, saw him as a bit of a left wing extremist). They got along much better when they later collaborated in The Grand Maneuver (1955).

After their marriage, she and Henri Vidal starred together in Here Is the Beauty (1950). Doing this, Michèle felt a sense of uneasiness that she believed negatively affected her performance and swore that they would have never worked together again. They were actually teamed up on two later occasions: in The Strange Madame X (1951) and Too Late to Love (1959).

Was awarded Cinérevue's prize for Most Popular actress in 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955.

A walk-in role in a 1936 stage production notwithstanding, her proper stage debut was in 1978 in Françoise Dorin's 'Le Tout pour le tout'. She later scored a huge critical triumph with the play "Chéri", which was filmed as Emmenez-moi au théâtre: Chéri (1984).

She won the 1954 'Triomphe du Cinéma' for her performance in The Proud and the Beautiful (1953).

In 1967, she received the 'Médaille de vermeil de la Ville de Paris' (Paris Vermeil Medal).

When she received the script of The Proud and the Beautiful (1953), she felt her role to be very redundant and asked for some extra scenes to be added. Her request was granted and these scenes included the one where she's seen in her underclothes, which became one of the movie's signature moments.

When husband William Marshall temporarily relocated to France with new wife Micheline Presle, she was relieved by the thought that she now had the possibility to see son Mike Marshall much more. Unfortunately, after William divorced from Micheline, he returned to the US, bringing Mike with him. Michèle was so forced to visit Mike far less frequently during his adolescence and was able to spend much more time with him only after he finished his studies.

She's the winner of the very first Best Actress award at Cannes Film Festival.

Unlike several other actors who fell under criticism for having kept to work in French cinema during the occupation, she was greatly admired for leaving immediately to do movies in the US (she had already been offered her contract with RKO before the start of WW2).

She appeared in 3 movies with third husband Gérard Oury: Here Is the Beauty (1950), Le miroir a deux faces (1958) and A Man and a Woman: 20 Years Later (1986). She also worked under his direction in a segment of Crime Does Not Pay (1962).

In the movie Here Is the Beauty (1950), she worked with both her second and third husband, Henri Vidal and Gérard Oury.

Named Jean Gabin, Raimu and Serge Reggiani among her favourite co-stars.

Took the name of Michèle Morgan from the Morgan Bank in Paris. She made this choice because she'd never liked her birth name of Simone and she felt 'Morgan' could be easily pronounced in every country.

Known for her humble personality.

She's a boxing fan.

Six grandchildren: Sarah Marshall, Peter-Morgan Marshall, Jessie-Lee Marshall, Deborah Marshall, Samantha Marshall, William Marshall.

Sister of Hélène Roussel and Pierre Roussel.

Great-grandmother of Nicolas Messica.

Turned out the role of Countess Serpieri in Senso (1954). Alida Valli was cast instead.

Her memorial service was held at the Saint-Pierre de Neuilly-sur-Seine church on the 23 December 2016 at 10.30 in the morning. At 12.30, she was buried in the Montparnasse family crypt next to her longtime companion, Gérard Oury.

Performed several of her trapeze stunts in Obsession (1954).

She appeared in 5 movies with Jean Marais: Aux yeux du souvenir (1948), The Glass Castle (1950), Napoleon (1955), If Paris Were Told to Us (1956) and The Woman Is a Stranger (1968).