Friday, July 12, 2013

Dead French in L.A.: Actress Denise Darcel 2011 "Vera Cruz"

Denise Darcel (8 September 1924 – 23 December 2011) was a French actress who also made films in Hollywood.[2]

Born as Denise Billecard[3] in Paris, she was college educated.[4] According to a friend, whom she met in Paris during World War II, she was a passenger in an L-5 Stinson light observation aircraft on VJ Day to see the celebration from the air. The pilot, James Helinger Sr., a US Army Air Corps glider pilot (the friend) was at the controls, while they flew under several bridges along the Seine and finally, under the Eiffel Tower, with the crowds below.[5]

She was a cabaret singer in Paris after World War II before being spotted by Hollywood. Denise came to the United States in 1947[6] and became an American citizen in 1952.[3]

Her first film appearance of note was in Battleground (1949). She appeared on Broadway in the musical Pardon Our French in 1950. She made quite an impression in Tarzan and the Slave Girl (1950) opposite Lex Barker, then co-starred with Robert Taylor in Westward the Women (1952) and Glenn Ford in Young Man with Ideas (1952).

In 1953, she was seen in the swimming musical Dangerous When Wet, which starred Esther Williams (1953).

Her most important film was Vera Cruz (1954) where she played the female lead opposite Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster. Her last film (1961) was Seven Women from Hell.

After her film and television career began to wane, Darcel, aged 41, became an ecdysiast (stripper), appearing in West Coast theatres in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Oakland, and Los Angeles.

She retired from stripping after a few years and returned to the cabaret circuit, making a few appearances on television. In 1991,[7] she was cast as "Solange La Fitte" in the Los Angeles 20th anniversary revival of the musical Follies, produced by the Long Beach Civic Light Opera. She would later repeat the role of Solange in 1995 for revivals in Houston and Seattle.  

Married three times and divorced twice, Darcel remained close to her two sons, Chris and Craig. Online music store iTunes recently made Darcel's album, Banned in Boston, available for purchase alongside actress Lizabeth Scott's album, Lizabeth.

In September 2009, she was honored with the Cinecon Career Achievement Award, presented in Hollywood at a banquet held at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel. Prior to the ceremony, a new 35mm color print of her 1953 film, Flame of Calcutta, was screened at the Egyptian Theatre. After the screening, at the banquet, she cheerfully announced to the audience, "I'm back." She died in December 2011, aged 87, after emergency surgery to repair a ruptured aneurysm.[8][9]


To the Victor (1948) (uncredited) as Bar Singer
Thunder in the Pines (1948) as Yvette Cheron
Battleground (1949) as Denise
Tarzan and the Slave Girl (1950) as Lola
Westward the Women (1951) as Fifi Danon
Young Man with Ideas (1952) as Dorianne Gray
Dangerous When Wet (1953) as Gigi Mignon
Flame of Calcutta (1953) as Suzanne Roget
Vera Cruz (1954) as Countess Marie Duvarre
The Martha Raye Show (1954) as herself
Gamble on Love (DuMont game show, 1954; replaced by Ernie Kovacs)
The Milton Berle Show (1 episode, 1956)
Tightrope as Terri (1 episode, 1960)
Seven Women from Hell (1961) as Claire Oudry
Naked City as Madeleine Douvay (1 episode, 1962)
Combat! as Annette (1 episode, 1963)


1.^ "Denise Darcel". The Daily Telegraph (London). 10 January 2012.Filmography

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