Michèle Morgan, one of the greats of 20th century French film who starred in the lauded Port of Shadows, among many others, died today. The family announced her death, according to French media reports. She was 96.
Morgan was a leading lady for three decades in both French cinema and American features. She was the inaugural winner of the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival, and in 1992 was given an Honorary César Award for her contributions to French cinema.
Morgan starred in some 70 films over the course of her decades-long career, but was perhaps best known as the ethereal femme fatale in 1938’s Port of Shadows, an example of the poetic realism genre, and a precursor to American film noir.
In 1940, at the time of the German invasion of France, Morgan left the country for Hollywood where she was under contract for a time at RKO Pictures. Her most notable work during that period included Joan of Paris opposite Paul Henreid in 1942 and Higher and Higher opposite Frank Sinatra in 1943.
She eventually returned to France where she appeared in the 1946 film La Symphonie Pastorale by Jean Delannoy, which earned her the Best Actress Award at Cannes. Her other film included Carol Reed’s The Fallen Idol (1948), Fabiola (1949), The Proud and the Beautiful (1953) by Yves Allégret, Les Grandes Manœuvres (1955) by René Clair, and Marie-Antoinette reine de France (1956). Her most recent work in film came in in 1966’s Lost Command, a film version of Les Centurions, and 1975’s Cat and Mouse, a thriller directed by Claude Lelouche. She most role, according to IMDB, was in 2010, in TV movie Les trois glorieuses.