Dany Saval Poster

Biography

Lithe and lovely French actress Dany Saval was born Danielle Nadine Suzanne Savalle amid very humble surroundings on January 5, 1942, in Paris. Her father, a factory laborer, had been a German POW just prior to her birth. Dany took to entertaining early and trained in dance as a young child. She grew into a beautiful young adult and subsequently found employment at the Moulin Rouge as a Can-Can girl.

A movie-struck Dany made her inauspicious, unbilled film debut in the film L'eau vive (1958) (The Girl and the River) directed by François Villiers. The film went on to earn a Golden Globe as "Best Foreign-Language Film." She made much more of an impression in her second dramatic film Youthful Sinners (1958), written and directed by Marcel Carné. Featured as the fiancée of Pierre Brice, this story of alienated youth has often been described as the Gallic answer to Rebel Without a Cause (1955).

The petite, fizzy blonde immediately moved into second lead femme roles with such films as the social drama Asphalt (1959) and the action thriller Atomic Agent (1959), before earning her first co-starring role in the François Villiers directed film Green Harvest (1959) with Dany, Jacques Perrin, Francis Lemonnier and Claude Brasseur as student resisters taking on the Nazis. She continued to rise in French movie stature with the films La dragée haute (1960), Pete the Tender (1960), The Door Slams (1960) (her first top-billed role), Spotlight on a Murderer (1961), Le puits aux trois vérités (1961) (Three Faces of Sin), The Seven Deadly Sins (1961) and Tales of Paris (1962).

By sheer happenstance, a Disney talent scout happened to glance at a French magazine cover gracing Dany's wide-set eyed beauty and had her screen-tested. Earning a limited contract, she was introduced to American film audiences in the modestly delightful Disney sci-fi comedy Moon Pilot (1962) starring handsome Tom Tryon as an astronaut who comes upon a beautiful space alien (Dany) first thought a Russian spy. The film was a box-office disappointment, however, and Dany returned immediately to France, enhancing a variety of film genres including The Devil and the Ten Commandments (1962), How to Succeed in Love (1962), Chicken Feed for Little Birds (1963), Sweet Skin (1963), Web of Fear (1964), Cherchez l'idole (1964), A Funny Boss (1964), Jaloux comme un tigre (1964) and Me and the Forty Year Old Man (1965).

Dany did not return to American filming until the mid-1960's when she was cast as perky Jacqueline (of Air France), one of three gorgeous airline stewardesses (the others being the equally gorgeous Christiane Schmidtmer (Lufthansa) and Suzanna Leigh (British United) being unwittingly juggled around by capricious gigolo Tony Curtis in the frantic bedroom slapstick comedy Boeing, Boeing (1965), based on the 1960 French play. Starring with Curtis is Jerry Lewis as a visiting friend who takes advantage of the situation, and it features wonderfully wry Thelma Ritter as Tony's beleaguered housekeeper. The film, despite its potential, received mixed reviews and earned a middling box office.

Briefly married to non-professional Roger Chaland, Dany's second husband was the three-time Oscar-winning French composer and conductor Maurice Jarre, best known for his film collaboration with epic filmmaker David Lean in such film masterpieces as Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965) and A Passage to India (1984). The couple had one daughter, Stéfanie, and Dana semi-retired for a time to focus on being a wife and mother. The marriage, however, was very short-lived, and lasted but a couple of years.

In the 1970's Dany returned to acting, focusing on French TV but including a few films from time to time as in the slapstick "spagetti western" It Can Be Done Amigo (1972) with Bud Spencer and Jack Palance; the action comedy Animal (1977); the musical comedy Parisian Life (1977); and the non-musical comedies Ciao, les mecs (1979), Inspector Blunder (1980), Do You Want a Nobel Baby? (1980) and Signé Furax (1981). Long married (since 1972) to her third husband, actor/writer/producer Michel Drucker, Dany retired in 1987 to live quietly in Paris.