Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dead French in L.A.: French Canadian Actress Fifi D'Orsay 1983 Forest Lawn Cemetery Glendale

Fifi D'Orsay (April 16, 1904 – December 2, 1983) was a French Canadian-born actress.


Born Marie-Rose Angelina Yvonne Lussier in Montreal, Quebec, as a young typist, filled with the desire to become an actress, she went to New York City. There, she found work in the Greenwich Village Follies after an audition in which she sang the song "Yes, We Have No Bananas' in French. In a burst of creativity, she told the play's director she was from Paris, France where she had worked in the Folies Bergères. The show's impressed director hired her, billing her as "Mademoiselle Fifi."

While working in the show, she became involved with Ed Gallagher, a veteran actor who joined her in putting together a vaudeville act. Gallagher was half of the successful Broadway comedy team of Gallagher and Shean, and coached his protegee in the ways of show business.

After touring in vaudeville, she headed west to Hollywood, California. There, she adopted the surname "D'Orsay" (after a favorite perfume) and began a career in movies, often cast as the naughty French girl from "gay Paris."

While never a superstar, she worked hard at her craft, headlining with the likes of Bing Crosby and Buster Crabbe. For years, she kept alternating her appearances in film with continued performances in vaudeville and when age put an end to the glamour roles, she readily took jobs in television, including two appearances each on ABC's Adventures in Paradise (including as a Mother Superior in the 1960 episode "Castaways"), the CBS legal drama, Perry Mason, and on the CBS sitcom, Pete and Gladys. She was a contestant in the February 23, 1956 television edition of Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life. At the age of sixty-seven, she returned to the stage in the Tony Award winning Broadway musical, Follies.

Fifi D'Orsay died from cancer at the age of seventy-nine in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

In the News

The Call Bulletin, January 26, 1931 "Fifi Goes for Ride at Sea" Hollywood, Jan. 26 (AP)

- Fifi Dorsay, "ou-la-la" girl of the films, is taking an ocean voyage today at which she is as surprised and shocked as the studio directors of the film she has been making. Saturday night she went to San Pedro and boarded the Dutch steamship Drechtdyk to bid some friends adieu. The steamship sailed at 9 o'clock, and some time later, when she went to the deck, she saw the ocean where the gangplank had been. The next stop is Cristobal, Canal Zone, February 4, her radio message to the studio today revealed.

Partial filmography

Those Three French Girls 1930
They Had to See Paris (1929)
Women Everywhere (1930)
Hot for Paris (1930)
Those Three French Girls (1930)
On the Level (1930)
Women of All Nations (1931)
The Stolen Jools (1931)
Young as You Feel (1931)
Mr. Lemon of Orange (1931)
The Girl From Calgary (1932)
Going Hollywood (1933)
They Just Had to Get Married (1933)
The Life of Jimmy Dolan (1933)
Wonder Bar (1934)
Three Legionnaires (1937)
Submarine Base (1943)
Nabonga (1944)
Delinquent Daughters (1944)
Dixie Jamboree (1945)
The Gangster (1947)
Wild And Wonderful (1964)
What a Way to Go! (1964)
The Art of Love (1965)
Assignment to Kill (1968)

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