Denise Darcel

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Denise Darcel
Denise Darcel (Battleground).jpg
Born Denise Billecard
(1924-09-08)8 September 1924[1]
Paris, France
Died 23 December 2011(2011-12-23) (aged 87)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Years active 1948–1963
Spouse(s) Peter Crosby (19??–19??; divorced)
Richard Vance (1972–19??; divorced)
George Simpson Jr. (1990–2003; his death)
Children 2 sons (Chris and Craig)

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]

In 1952, she is named "Miss Welder of 1952" by the National Eutectic Welders' Club on February 15th of that year. Presenting her with a scroll as "the girl we would like most to weld with" was R. D. Wasserman, President of the Eutectic Welding Institute. Mr. Wasserman hoped that her photograph would inspire women throughout the nation to join the ranks of the labor force and support the war effort in Korea.[7]

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,[8] 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.[9][10]

Filmography[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Denise Darcel". The Daily Telegraph (London). 10 January 2012. 
  2. ^ Obituary for Denise Darcel in The Telegraph (UK)
  3. ^ a b Denise Darcel at BFI Film & TV Database
  4. ^ Denise Darcel at the TCM Movie Database
  5. ^ "The Adventures of Jim, Sr – Part III". Chaotic Synaptic Activity. 15 August 2005. Retrieved 17 July 2009. 
  6. ^ Erickson, Hal. "Denise Darcel". New York Times (All Movie Guide). Retrieved 29 November 2009. 
  7. ^ Welding Journal 31(4), April 1952, p374.
  8. ^ Bergan, Ronald (13 January 2012). "Denise Darcel obituary". The Guardian (London). 
  9. ^ New York Times obituary for Denise Darcel
  10. ^ Variety report of Darcel's death

External links[edit]