Bella Darvi

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Bella Darvi
Born Bajla Węgier[1]
(1928-10-23)October 23, 1928
Sosnowiec, Poland
Died September 11, 1971(1971-09-11) (aged 42)
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Cause of death suicide
Years active 1954-1971
Spouse(s) Alban Cavalade (1950–1952)
Claude Rouas (1960–1961)

Bajla Węgier (October 23, 1928 – September 11, 1971), better known as Bella Darvi, was a Polish[2][3][4] film actress and stage performer that achieved great success both in France and the United States.


Darvi was born Bajla Węgier[5] to Jewish parents Chajm Węgier, a baker, and his wife, Chaja (née Zygelbaum). She had three brothers, Robert, Jacques, and Jean-Isidore, and a sister, Sura. Robert died in a concentration camp.[6]

Jailed by the Nazis during World War II, she was released in 1943. She married a businessman, Alban Cavalcade, on October 7, 1950[7] and traveled with him to Monaco. She was discovered in Paris by the wife of mogul Darryl F. Zanuck. In 1952, she divorced Cavalcade, and moved into the Zanuck home. In August 1953, she signed a contract with Zanuck, who changed her name to Bella Darvi, Darvi a combination of the first names of Zanuck and his wife, Virginia.[8] Eventually, she became Zanuck's mistress, although she reportedly dated other men including Robert Stack and Brad Dexter.

She was Richard Widmark's love interest in Sam Fuller's 1954 film Hell and High Water as well as that of Kirk Douglas in 1955's The Racers, but is probably best known for the role of Nefer, the seductive Babylonian courtesan, in The Egyptian. She received the role because her lover, Zanuck, preferred her over blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe.

Zanuck left his wife for Darvi, but left her when he discovered that she was a bisexual.[8] Darvi later very publicly dated women, as well as men. Despite liaisons with extremely wealthy men, she was unable to establish a permanent relationship or to curb her gambling habit. Zanuck was still paying off her debts as late as 1970. On November 13, 1960, Darvi married Claude Rouas, a restaurant waiter, in Las Vegas; the marriage was annulled less than a year later.


Darvi committed suicide, after several failed attempts, in Monte Carlo by gas. Her body remained undiscovered for more than a week.[9]



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