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Capucine (1962).jpg
Capucine on 25 April 1962
Germaine Hélène Irène Lefebvre

(1928-01-06)6 January 1928
Died17 March 1990(1990-03-17) (aged 62)
Lausanne, Switzerland
Cause of deathSuicide
OccupationModel, actress
Years active1948–1990
Pierre Trabaud (m. 1950–1950)

Capucine (6 January 1928 – 17 March 1990)[1] was a French fashion model and actress known for her comedic roles in The Pink Panther (1963) and What's New Pussycat? (1965). She appeared in 36 films and 17 television productions between 1948 and 1990.

Early life[edit]

Capucine was born Germaine Hélène Irène Lefebvre on 6 January 1928 in Saint-Raphaël, Var, France.[1][2] She often confused the issue of her birth by claiming that she was born in 1931 or 1933, and most sources indicate those years. She attended school in Saumur, France, and attained a Bachelor of Arts degree in foreign languages.[3]

In 1945, at age 17, while riding in a carriage in Paris, Lefebvre was noticed by a commercial photographer. Adopting the name "Capucine" (French for nasturtium), she became a fashion model, working for fashion houses Givenchy and Christian Dior.[3]

Capucine met Audrey Hepburn while modeling for Givenchy in Paris. They remained close friends for the rest of Capucine's life.[4]


Early films[edit]

Capucine made her film debut in Jean Cocteau's The Eagle with Two Heads (1948). She only had a small unbilled role. She also appeared in Jacques Becker's Rendezvous in July (1949) and Robert Dhéry's Crazy Show (1949).

She was in My Friend Sainfoin (1950) and Dhery's Bernard and the Lion (1951).

After a break of a few years Capuncine appeared in Mademoiselle from Paris (1955) and Frou-Frou (1955).

Charles K. Feldman[edit]

In 1957, film producer Charles K. Feldman spotted Capucine while she was modeling in New York City. Feldman brought her to Hollywood to learn English and study acting under Gregory Ratoff.[5][6]

She was signed to a seven-year contract with Columbia Pictures in 1958. After unsuccessfully auditioning for the role of Feathers in Rio Bravo (1959) she landed her first English-speaking role in the film Song Without End (1960), a biopic of Franz Liszt where Capucine played Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.[7][8]

Capucine followed this with North to Alaska (1960), a comedy which had been set up by Feldman at 20th Century Fox. She played a prostitute who becomes the love interest of John Wayne. It was successful at the box office.

Capucine returned to Europe to co star in Le triomphe de Michel Strogoff (1961) with Curt Jurgens, a sequel to Michel Strogoff (1956).

Back in Hollywood, she was second billed in Walk on the Wild Side (1962), produced by Feldman, in which she portrayed a redeemed hooker. Costar Laurence Harvey complained that Feldman cut his part to build Capucine's role.[9]

She was then William Holden's love interest in The Lion (1962).

Feldman announced he would put Capucine in Mary Magdelene[10] and Waltz of the Toreadors[11] but neither happened.

She moved to Switzerland in 1962.[12] She had a cameo Beach Casanova (1962) in Italy.

The Pink Panther[edit]

From the trailer for The Pink Panther (1963)

Blake Edwards cast Capucine in The Pink Panther playing the wife of Inspector Clouseau who is having an affair with a jewel thief played by David Niven. It was a huge hit and led to a number of sequels.

Capucine was reunited with Holden in The 7th Dawn (1964) produced by Feldman; it was a box-office disappointment.

Far more successful was another film she did for Feldman, the comedy What's New Pussycat (1965), which costarred Sellers and Peter O'Toole, and was filmed entirely in France.[2]

Capucine was one of several European stars in Sex Quartet (1966) for Columbia (originally The Queens[13]) then Feldman put her in The Honey Pot (1967) directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. She was announced for Feldman's Casino Royale but did not appear in the film.[14]

Feldman died in May 1968 and Capucine's career never regained its former momentum.[15] She inherited the rights to the book Zandy from his estate and sold them to the makers of Zandy's Bride.[16]


Capucine had a support role in Fraulein Doktor (1968) and the lead in the Spanish thriller The Exquisite Cadaver (1969). She was in the supporting cast of Fellini's Satyricon (1969).

Capucine had a supporting role in the Western Red Sun (1971)[17] and guest starred on Search Control (1972), her first TV series.[18]

She supported Jean Paul Belmondo in Incorrigible (1975) and Richard Burton in Jackpot, which ultimately was abandoned.

She appeared on television in Cinéma 16, and La pêche miraculeuse (1976), and had roles in The Con Artists (1976), Per amore (1976), Ecco noi per esempio... (1977), Nest of Vipers (1978), From Hell to Victory (1979), Atrocious Tales of Love and Death (1979), Neapolitan Mystery (1979), Arabian Adventure (1979), Jaguar Lives! (1979), and Martin Eden (1979).


Capucine was in episodes of Orient Express, and Hart to Hart.

She went to Europe to make Les invités (1982), Aphrodite (1982), Trail of the Pink Panther (1982), and Curse of the Pink Panther (1983).[19]

Capucine could be seen in episodes of Série noire, Voglia di cantare, Murder, She Wrote, Honor Thy Father, Sins, Delirium (1987), My First Forty Years (1987), Gila and Rik (1987), Una verità come un'altra (1989), Quartier nègre (1989), Blue Blood (1988) and Il giudice istruttore.

Personal life[edit]

She met Pierre Trabaud on the set of Rendez-vous (1949) and they married the next year. The marriage lasted only eight months, and Capucine never married again.[20]

She had an affair with Charles K. Feldman, who produced her films What's Newl Pussycat?, The 7th Dawn and The Honey Pot.

Capucine met actor William Holden in the early 1960s. They starred in the films The Lion (1962) and The 7th Dawn (1964). Holden was married to Brenda Marshall, but the two began a two-year affair. After the affair ended, she and Holden remained friends until Holden's death in 1981.[21]."[22]


On 17 March 1990, Capucine jumped to her death from her eighth-floor apartment in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she had lived for 28 years, having reportedly suffered from illness and depression for some time.[1][23]

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1948 The Eagle with Two Heads La dame au buffet Uncredited
1949 Rendez-vous de juillet Une amie de Pierre Uncredited
Branquignol Une cow-girl Uncredited
1950 My Friend Sainfoin
1951 Bernard and the Lion La baronne
1955 Mademoiselle de Paris Alternative title: Mademoiselle from Paris
Frou-Frou Une amie d'Arthus, le peintre Uncredited
1960 Song Without End Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein
North to Alaska Michelle 'Angel' Bonet
1961 Le Triomphe de Michel Strogoff Tatoa, a Volskaya Alternative title: The Triumph of Michael Strogoff
1962 Walk on the Wild Side Hallie Gerard
The Lion Christine
I Don Giovanni della Costa Azzurra Alternative title: Beach Casanova
1963 The Pink Panther Simone Clouseau
1964 The 7th Dawn Dhana Mercier
1965 What's New Pussycat? Renée Lefebvre
1966 Le fate Marta (segment "Fata Marta")
1967 The Honey Pot Princess Dominique
1969 Fräulein Doktor Dr. Saforet
The Exquisite Cadaver Lucia Fonte
Fellini Satyricon Trifena
1971 Red Sun Pepita
1972 Search Silvana Tristano Episode: "The Murrow Disappearance"
1975 Incorrigible Hélène
1975 Jackpot
1976 The Con Artists Belle Duke Alternative titles: Bluff, The Con Man
Per amore Marina Reggiani, Alberto's wife
1977 Ecco noi per esempio Moglie di Click
1978 Portrait of a Bourgeoise in Black Amalia Mazzarini
1979 From Hell to Victory Nicole Levine
Neapolitan Mystery Sister Angela
Arabian Adventure Vahishta
Jaguar Lives! Zina Vanacore
1982 Hart to Hart Lily Von Borg Episode: "Hart of Diamonds"
Aphrodite Lady Suzanne Stanford
Trail of the Pink Panther Lady Simone Litton
1983 Balles perdues Madam Teufminn
Curse of the Pink Panther Lady Simone Litton
1985 Murder, She Wrote Belle Chaney Episode: "Paint Me a Murder"
1986 Sins Odile Miniseries
1987 Delirium: Photo of Gioia Flora
My First Forty Years Princess Caracciolo
1990 Blaues Blut Gräfin von Altenberg Unknown episodes

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Donnelley, Paul (2005-11-01). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries (3 ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 236. ISBN 1-84449-430-6.
  2. ^ a b Marshall, Bill; Johnston, Cristina (2005). France and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History : A Multidisciplinary Encyclopedia. 3. ABC-CLIO. pp. 211–212. ISBN 1-85109-411-3.
  3. ^ a b Segrave, Kerry; Martin, Linda (1990). The Continental Actress: European Film Stars Of the Postwar Era--Biographies, Criticism, Filmographies, Bibliographies. McFarland. p. 155. ISBN 0-899-50510-4.
  4. ^ Paris, Barry (2002). Audrey Hepburn. Berkley Pub Group. p. 319. ISBN 0-425-18212-6.
  5. ^ Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the Silent Era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 109. ISBN 1-55783-551-9.
  6. ^ Hyams, J. (1959, Jun 02). French stat capucine in first interview. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  7. ^ Scheuer, P. K. (1960, May 08). CREATURE OF BEAUTY. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  8. ^ Hyams, J. (1960, Mar 13). A different kind of french girl. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  9. ^ Haber, J. (1973, Oct 14). Larry harvey, hollywood's favorite 'outrage'. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  10. ^ By A.H. WEILER. (1962, Feb 04). BY WAY OF REPORT. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  11. ^ Hopper, H. (1957, Jun 03). Looking at hollywood. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) Retrieved from
  12. ^ "Capucine Biography". Entertainment for All.
  13. ^ Martin, B. (1966, Jul 28). Capucine signs for 'queens'. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  14. ^ Scheuer, P. K. (1964, Apr 23). 'Panther' capucine not cold any more. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  15. ^ Charles K. feldman shows independence as producer. (1967, Jul 20). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  16. ^ Haber, J. (1973, Apr 30). O'neal's hideaway framed in irony. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  17. ^ Freudenheim, M. (1971, Aug 10). Mason snipes at hollywood. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  18. ^ Capucine debut set. (1972, Jun 05). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  19. ^ Gross, L. (1983, Aug 13). 'PINK PANTHER' NO CURSE FOR TED WASS. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  20. ^ Capua, Michelangelo (2010). William Holden: A Biography. McFarland. p. 123. ISBN 0-786-44440-1.
  21. ^ Strodder, Chris (2000). Swingin' Chicks Of the Sixties. Cedco Pub. p. 112. ISBN 0-7683-2232-4.
  22. ^ ""Hollywood Lesbians": This 1994 Interview Book Valiantly Attempted To Out Over 31 Legendary Ladies". Autostraddle. 2017-07-17. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  23. ^ "FRENCH ACTRESS, CAPUCINE, LEAPS TO HER DEATH". Deseret News. Salt Lake City. March 20, 1990. ISSN 0745-4724.

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