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France Nuyen in Satan Never Sleeps, publicity still (1962)
|Born||France Nguyen Van-Nga
31 July 1939
Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône, France
|Occupation||actress, psychological counselor|
|Spouse(s)||Robert Culp (1967-1970)
Dr. Thomas Gaspar Morell (1963-1966) 1 child
France Nuyen (born France Nguyen Van Nga, 31 July 1939) is a Vietnamese-French actress.
Nuyen was born in Marseille, France. Her mother was French, her father was Vietnamese. During World War II, her mother and grandfather were persecuted by the Nazis for being Roma. Nuyen was raised in Marseille by a cousin she calls "an orchidaceae raiser who was the only person who gave a damn about me."
In 1955, while working as a seamstress, Nguyen was discovered on the beach by Life magazine photographer Philippe Halsman. She was featured on the cover of the October 6, 1958, issue of Life magazine.
She became a film actress in 1958. In her first role she played Liat, daughter of "Bloody Mary," played by Juanita Hall, in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific. Later that year she had the lead role in the theatrical production of The World of Suzie Wong, opposite William Shatner. She was originally cast to star in the film production, but was replaced by Nancy Kwan. She worked with Shatner again in an episode of Star Trek, playing Elaan of Troyius, and in an episode of Kung Fu. Her distinctive accent made her recognizable to television audiences.
In 1978, she guest starred with Peter Falk and Louis Jourdan in the Columbo episode "Murder Under Glass". In 1986, she joined the cast of St. Elsewhere as Dr. Paulette Kiem, remaining until the series ended in 1988.
Nuyen appeared in films including Satan Never Sleeps (1962), A Girl Named Tamiko (with Laurence Harvey) (1962), Diamond Head (1963), Dimension 5 (1966), Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973), and The Joy Luck Club (1993). She continues to appear in films and recently appeared in The American Standards (2007).
From 1963 to 1966, Nuyen was married to Dr. Thomas Gaspar Morell, a psychiatrist, by whom she has a daughter Fleur, who resides in Canada and works as a film makeup artist. She met her second husband, Robert Culp, while appearing on his show I Spy (in, for example, the episodes "The Tiger" and "Magic Mirror"). They married in 1967 but divorced three years later. Nuyen and Culp were to appear as co-hosts of the second episode of the TV series Turn-On in 1969, but the show was canceled after just one week.
In 1986, Nuyen earned a master's degree in clinical psychology and began a second career as a psychological counselor for abused women and children, and women in prison. She received a Woman of the Year award in 1989 for her psychological work. In the Life magazine cover story on Nuyen, she is quoted as saying a proverb she also repeated in character as a spy in the I Spy episode "Magic Mirror": "I am Chinese. ... I am a stone. I go where I am kicked."
- South Pacific (1958)
- In Love and War (1958)
- The Last Time I Saw Archie (1961)
- Satan Never Sleeps (1962)
- A Girl Named Tamiko (1962)
- Diamond Head (1963)
- Man in the Middle (1964)
- Dimension 5 (1966)
- One More Train to Rob (1971)
- Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
- China Cry (1990)
- The Joy Luck Club (1993)
- The American Standards(film) (2008)
- Gunsmoke (1966)
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1965) "The Cherry Blossom Affair"
- I Spy
- Star Trek (1968) "Elaan of Troyius"
- Kung Fu
- Medical Center
- Hawaii Five-O
- The Six Million Dollar Man (1974) "The Coward"
- Code Name: Diamond Head (1977) -failed pilot
- Charlie's Angels
- Columbo (1978) "Murder Under Glass"
- Fantasy Island (1978) "Return to Fantasy Island"
- Murder, She Wrote "A Death In Hong Kong"
- St. Elsewhere
- Knots Landing (1990) as a doctor.