January 29, 1930|
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
August 4, 1994 (aged 64)|
Nuns' Island, Quebec, Canada
She is perhaps most famous for her autobiographical role in Claude Jutra's first feature, À tout prendre (1964). Ms. Harrelle, who lived with Jutra for a time, played the lover and companion to the film's other protagonist, Claude, who was played by Jutra himself. Her role in the film, as herself, is very telling as it describes the way in which she was perceived as an exotic outsider in French Canada, and people often assumed that she was Haitian, despite having been born in Montreal. These assumptions are played with in the film, as when she performs a song in patois, "Ti-zoizeau".
Johanne was baptized Joan Harrell. She was raised with her two brothers in an orphanage after their African American father died and French Canadian mother fell ill when she was only 3 years old. She later became known in the fashion world as Johanne Harrelle. Her first appearance on a fashion runway was at Montreal's upscale Ritz Carlton Hotel in the 1950s, when black models were unheard of in Canada.
Harrelle, who was married twice, lived for 15 years with her second husband, the renowned Parisian sociologist Edgar Morin. She had two sons, Val Harrelle and Alain Cadieux.
- Achard, Betty. "Johanne Harrelle, première top-modèle noire au Québec" Madame 
- "Black model was pioneer in fashion world." The Gazette. Montreal, Que.: Aug 5, 1994. p. A.4
- Freedman, Adele. "Johanne Harrelle's Montreal: The eagle who loves her nest." The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ont.: Apr 24, 1982. p. E.5
- archives.radio-canada.ca (see section Le saviez-vous?) Retrieved June 2, 2011.