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


Morgan was born Simone Renée Roussel 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. 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, although she is mostly unknown outside France. She published her autobiography entitled Avec ces yeux-là in 1977.

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. She had a solo exhibition at the Paris gallery "Artistes En Lumière à Paris" (2 March – 30 April 2009).

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.

Selected filmography

1935Mademoiselle MozartThe trainer of the white elephantYvan Noécredited as Simone Morgan
1937GribouilleNathalie RoguinMarc Allégretremade as The Lady in Question in 1940
1938OrageFrançoise MassartMarc Allégretwith Charles Boyer
Port of ShadowsNellyMarcel Carnéwith Jean Gabin
Nightclub HostessSuzyAlbert Valentinwritten by Charles Spaak
1939Coral ReefsLilian WhiteMaurice Gleizewith Jean Gabin
Musicians of the SkyLieutnant SaulnierGeorges Lacombewith Michel Simon
1940Stormy WatersCatherineJean Grémillonbased on a novel by Roger Vercel
The Heart of a NationMarie Froment-LéonardJulien Duvivierwith Raimu
1941My Life with Caroline"Annette" (uncredited)Lewis Milestonewritten by John Van Druten
1942La Loi du nordJacqueline BertJacques Feyderbased on a novel by Maurice Constantin-Weyer
Joan of ParisJoanRobert Stevensonwith Paul Henreid
1943Two Tickets to LondonJeanneEdwin L. Marinwith Alan Curtis
Higher and HigherMillie Pico alias Paméla DrakeTim WhelanFrank Sinatra's film debut
1944Passage to MarseillePaulaMichael Curtizwith Humphrey Bogart
1946The ChaseLorna RomanArthur Ripleywith Robert Cummings
La Symphonie pastoraleGertrude (the young blind woman)Jean Delannoywith Pierre Blanchar
1947The Fallen IdolJulieCarol Reedwith Ralph Richardson and Bobby Henrey.
1948To the Eyes of MemoryClaire MagnyJean Delannoywith Jean Marais
1949The Fighting GladiatorFabiolaAlessandro Blasettiwith Henri Vidal
Here Is the BeautyJeanne MorelJean-Paul Le Chanoisbased on a novel by Vicki Baum
1950The Glass CastleEvelyne Lorin-BertalRené Clémenttwo versions, one filmed in Italian
The Strange Madame XIrène Voisin-LariveJean Grémillonwith Henri Vidal
The Naked HeartMaria ChapdelaineMarc Allégretbased on the novel by Louis Hémon
1951The Seven Deadly SinsAnne-Marie de PallièresClaude Autant-Laraepisode "Pride"
1952The Moment of TruthMadeleine RichardJean Delannoywith Jean Gabin
1953The Proud and the BeautifulNellyYves Allégretwith Gérard Philipe
1954Love, Soldiers and WomenJoan of ArcJean Delannoyepisode "Jeanne"
ObsessionHélène GiovanniJean Delannoybased on a novel by Cornell Woolrich
NapoléonJoséphine de BeauharnaisSacha GuitryDaniel Gélin/Raymond Pellegrin as Napoléon
1955The Grand ManeuverMarie-Louise RivièreRené Clairwith Gérard Philipe
Marguerite of the NightMargueriteClaude Autant-Larawith Yves Montand
Marie Antoinette Queen of FranceMarie-Antoinette, Queen of FranceJean Delannoywith Richard Todd
If Paris Were Told to UsGabrielle d'EstréesSacha Guitryportraying the mistress of Henry IV of France
1956OasisFrançoise LignièresYves Allégretwith Pierre Brasseur
1957The VintageLéonne MorelJeffrey Haydenwith Mel Ferrer
There's Always a Price TagHélène FrémingerDenys de La Patellièrewith Daniel Gélin and Peter van Eyck
1958The Mirror Has Two FacesMarie-Josée Tardivet, Pierre's wifeAndré Cayattewith Bourvil and Ivan Desny
MaximeJacqueline MonneronHenri Verneuilwith Charles Boyer
Girls for the SummerMichelineGianni Franciolinicomedy with Alberto Sordi
1959Menschen im HotelLa GrusinskaïaGottfried Reinhardtwith O. W. Fischer
Winter HolidaysSteffa TardierCamillo Mastrocinquewith Georges Marchal
The WretchesThelma RoolandRobert Hosseinwith Olivier Hussenot
Why Do You Come So Late?Catherine FerrerHenri Decoinwith Henri Vidal
1960FortunatJuliette ValcourtAlex Joffétitle character played by Bourvil
1961Three Faces of SinRenée PlègeFrançois Villierswith Jean-Claude Brialy
The Lions Are LooseCécileHenri Verneuilwith Jean-Claude Brialy
1962LandruCélestine BuissonClaude Chabrolwith Charles Denner
MeetingsBella KrastnerPhilippe Agostiniwith Gabriele Ferzetti
Crime Does Not PayJeanne HuguesGérard Ouryepisode "The Hugues Case"
The WinnerAs herselfFrançois ReichenbachLouis Delluc Prize, Golden Leopard
1963Be Careful LadiesDenise DuparcAndré Hunebellewith Paul Meurisse
Web of FearConstanceFrançois Villierswith Dany Saval
1964Marked EyesFlorenceRobert Hosseinstarring the film's director
The Last StepsYolande SimonetJacques Robinwith Jean-Louis Trintignant
The ScapegoatPrincess SofiaDuccio Tessaribased on a novel by Francesco Dall'Ongaro
1965Tell Me Whom to KillGeneviève MontanetÉtienne Périerwith Paul Hubschmid
1966Lost CommandThe Countess of ClairfondMark Robsonwith Anthony Quinn
1967La Bien-aiméeFanny DréalJacques Doniol-ValcrozeTV film
The Diary of an Innocent BoyThe CountessMichel Devillewith Pierre Clémenti and Michel Piccoli
1975Cat and MouseMadame RichardClaude Lelouchwith Serge Reggiani
1986A Man and a Woman: 20 Years LaterA spectatorClaude Lelouchuncredited
Le Tiroir secretColette Dutilleul-LemarchandÉdouard Molinaro, Roger Gillioz, Michel Boisrond, Nadine TrintignantTV miniseries, 6 episodes
1990Everybody's FineA woman in the trainGiuseppe Tornatorewith Marcello Mastroianni