Kerima an actress best known for her role in Outcast of the Islands. Although commonly believed to be Algerian as she was portrayed when she gained fame as an actress, she is actually French.
Outcast of the Islands was set in Indonesia and her role was that of a native girl. In casting the role, director Carol Reed sought someone “seductive, radiant”, “as the soul of the country with its mysterious forests.” He felt no available actresses were right for the part. In an interview with Der Spiegel, he claimed to have searched for almost a year in Egypt, Singapore, and Borneo, auditioning “dancers, fashion models, beauty queens” before friends recommended Kerima, daughter of a very wealthy Arab in Algiers.Although her background was not Indonesian, film publicity sought to portray her as an indigenous islander. In London, she was quoted as saying “I live the life of Nature. I ride bareback, I walk barefoot, I swim bare.” As she had no acting experience, her role was completely non-verbal. Reed never used the voice of amateurs or children in his films. Had her voice been used, a French accent would have been obvious. A heavily publicized kissing scene in the movie lasted 112 seconds. This “marathon kiss” was the subject of a Life magazine article which included the photo of Kerima on the cover. This scene was used in advertising to entice people to see the film. It was considered “shocking” to some critics and “met with difficulty” by American censors.
Kerima was active in film throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, working with Italian and American directors including Joseph Mankiewicz and Howard Hawks. Her last known work were minor parts in 1972.
To create more publicity for Kerima and the movie Outcast, an exotic-island-girl image consistent with her role was created by the film’s executive producer, Alexander Korda. He claimed she was born in Algeria. She is listed as Algerian in many places such as the Internet Movie Data Base and Fandango. One blog cites her as rare “evidence of north African stars in Hollywood during the 1950s.” Another chose her in 2011 to represent Algeria in a list of sexy or otherwise noteworthy women from over 190 different countries. A search of birth records in Algerian newspapers was conducted around 2006 without locating any documentation of her birth. Her husband Guy Hamilton, an assistant director of Outcast, was then contacted and asked about Kerima’s background. He confirmed that she was born in France to French parents, is a French citizen, and that Korda created the name Kerima and the associated persona of an exotic Javanesenative to promote the movie. Another source claims her real name was Miriam, but instead of having her study medicine, she was “selling jewellery in the South of France”.
Her exotic looks did enable her to play various different nationalities, including an Egyptian in Land of the Pharaohs, a Vietnamese woman in The Quiet American and even a “she-wolf” in the Italian horror film La Lupa. In addition to Algerian, she has also been described as “a beautiful Pakistani actress”, as well as Italian, Indonesian, and Tunisian.
She was born in Toulouse, France to French parents. She studied medicine before finding success in acting. “Kerima” is a stage name created at the time of her first role when she was known as Miriam Charrière, a non-professional actress. She was “discovered” in Paris by the director of Outcast of the Islands, Carol Reed. By age 23, she was fluent in French, Spanish, and Italian.
They were later divorced. Kerima was married to Guy Hamilton, who was an assistant director for Outcast of the Islands, after they met again in Rome many years after the filming of Outcast. They lived in a villa in Andratx on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca from the mid-1970s for at least the next 30 years. Hamilton died in April 2016