Mylene Demongeot

Mylene Demongeot.
Mylene Demongeot.

Mylene Demongeot (IMDB)

Mylene Demongeot is one of the blond sex symbols of French cinema during the 1950s and 1960s, managed to overcome typecasting and survived a long hiatus before a stellar comeback in her 70s. She appeared in more than 70 films, including such classics as “The Three Musketeers” and the Fantomas trilogy.

She was born Marie-Helene Demongeot on September 29, 1935, in Nice, France, into a family of actors. Her parents met in Shanghai, China, and moved to Nice. Her mother, Klaudia Trubnikova, was a Russian-Ukrainian émigré from Kharkiv who escaped from the horrors of the Russian Civil War. Her father, Alfred Demongeot, was of French-Italian heritage. The family was bilingual and young Demongeot was able to use Russian and French, but eventually switched to French. She grew up in Nice. As a young girl she was an outcast: she suffered from ruthless kids making vicious comments about her eyes (she was cross-eyed until she had surgery in her teens).

She was fond of music and movies, a perfect escape from the horrors of WWII that devastated Europe during her childhood. At the age of 13she came to Paris and continued her education. She studied piano under the tutelage of Marguerite Long and Yves Nat. She then studied dramatic art with Maria Ventura at Le Cours Simon in Paris. At 15 she became a model in the atelier of Pierre Cardin.

At 17 Mylene made her film debut in the supporting role of Nicole in Children of Love(1953) (“Children of Love”). Appearing in three or four feature films every year, Demongeot rose to international fame in the late 1950s. She was together with Gary Cooper for the opening of the first escalator to be installed in a cinema, at the Rex Theatre in Paris, on June 7, 1957. She had a memorable seduction scene opposite Yves Montand in The Crucible (1957) (“The Crucible”). Her first notable leading role was in Be Beautiful But Shut Up (1958) (aka “Blonde for Danger”), in which she played a 17-year-old jewel smuggler.

Demongeot further developed her screen image of a manipulative blond mistress in her brilliant performance opposite David Niven in Bonjour Tristesse (1958), and became permanently locked in the cliché image of a humorous seductress after co-starring opposite Alain Delon in the 1959 comedy Three Murderesses (1959).

Her chance to update her film image came in the period films. She played manipulative and coquettish Andromeda opposite Steve Reeves in The Giant of Marathon (1959) (“The Giant of Marathon”) and the leading role of Rea opposite Roger Moore in Romulus and the Sabines(1961) (“Romulus and the Sabines”). Among her best known roles are the manipulative Milady de Winter in Les trois mousquetaires: Première époque – Les ferrets de la reine(1961) and Helen in all three of the “Fantomas” films.

Mylene Demongeot became one of the blond sex symbols in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s French cinema. She co-starred with the major French actors of the time, including Jean Marais and Louis de Funès, in the Fantomas (1964) trilogy. Although she gradually phased out of the stereotypical image of a beautiful French coquette, she still looked pretty convincing as a middle-aged Madame, which she developed in the 1980s and 1990s.

At that time her acting career came to a pause, as she had been aging gracefully in the South of France. She was also a producer during that time, and was the co-owner of the Kangarou Films production company, which she founded with her late husbandMarc Simenon. After a lengthy hiatus she made a comeback in 36th Precinct (2004). She has also appeared in Camping (2006) and La Californie (2006) by director/writer Jacques Fieschi, based on a short story by Georges Simenon.

In addition to her film work, Demongeot has also written several books, the best-known of which would be of “Tiroirs Secrets” and “Animalement vôtre”. In the 2000s she made a pilgrimage to the birthplace of her mother in Kharkov, Ukraine. There she planted a commemorative tree and presented her autobiographical book, “Les Lilas de Kharkov” (The Lilacs of Kharkiv). In 2006 she was named Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters for her achievements in acting. She resides in her French hometown of Nice.

Mylene Demongeot died in 2022.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

The above IMDB entry can also be accessed online here.

Eye for Film obituary in 2022:

One of the last surviving French sex symbols from the Fifties and Sixties Mylène Demongeot has died at the age of 87 after a long illness.

Demongeot who spent her youth in Montpellier and adored the region around the town, latterly had devoted herself to animal rights in common with her contemporary Brigitte Bardot. Bardot wrote in one of her books that “Mylène was my little cinema sister, then became my combat sister, a libra like me, she has always loved animals”.

After the death of her long-standing companion Didier Raoult, the actress had her own battles with cancer and recently coronavirus against which she had declined to be vaccinated, claiming to have multiple allergies.

Despite more than her fair share of adversity she kept working and recently appeared in such popular box office hits as Retirement Home (Maison de Retraite) by Thomas Gilou, playing opposite Gérard Depardieu; Camping 3 by Fabien Onteniente with Claude Brasseur, and The Midwife (Sage Femme by Martin Provost) with Catherine Frot and Catherine Deneuve.

The daughter of a French father and Ukrainian mother the actress made an early impression in Raymond Rouleau’s production of The Witches Of Salem alongside Simone Signoret and Yves Montand.

She was taken up and promoted by photographer Henri Coste with whom she learned to pose for the camera and who later became her first husband.

Demongeot was born in Nice in 1935 and appeared in more than 72 films in a career which spanned six decades. She was nominated for a Bafta award as most promising newcomer in 1957 for a Franco-German production of The Crucible, and was praised by the play’s author Arthur Miller as “bursting with real sexuality”.

She performed in such costume adventures as The Vengeance Of The Three Musketeers (1961) as Milady de Winter and in comedies, among them Fantômas (1964), directed by André Hunebelle, and its various sequels.

On the international arena notably she co-starred with David Niven in Otto Preminger’s Bonjour Tristesse from the novel by Françoise Sagan (1958). In the UK she co-starred in several comedies, including It’s A Wonderful World (1956); Upstairs and Downstairs (1959) and Doctor in Distress (1963).

Demongeot was also nominated for César Awards for Best Supporting Actress in 36 Quai des Orfèvres (2004) and La Californie (2006).

Another of the great loves of her life was Marc Simenon, the son of Maigret creator Georges Simenon with whom she had a tempestuous relationship.

In her later years she was conned out of her life-savings of some two million euros after a financial scare and only had survived by making drastic economies and living in a small flat in Paris. The anti-corruption squad eventually caught the culprit who intended using her money to make loans to the likes of Isabelle Adjani

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