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Biography

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Overview (3)

Date of Birth 23 October 1928Sosnowiec, Slaskie, Poland
Date of Death 11 September 1971Monte Carlo, Monaco  (suicide by gas)
Birth NameBayla Wegier

Mini Bio (1)

Bella Darvi became a 50s symbol for one of the many movie "Cinderellas" whose bright and beautiful Hollywood fairy tale would come crashing down, ending in bitterness and tragedy. A self-destructive brunette beauty, her life was full of misfortune. Of Polish/French descent, she miraculously survived the tortures of a WWII concentration camp as a youth, only to get caught up in the phony glitter and high-living style of Monaco's casinos as a young adult in Europe. An inveterate gambler and drinker, she was, by chance, "discovered" by movie mogul Darryl F. Zanuck and his wife, Virginia Fox, who thought she had a foreign cinematic allure à la Ingrid Bergman. Despite her lack of acting experience, the Zanucks paid off her gambling debts and whisked her away to Hollywood to be groomed for stardom. Her marquee name "Darvi" was derived from the combined first names of her mentors. It should have been a dream-come-true opportunity. Fate, however, would not be so kind. After three high profile roles in The Egyptian (1954), Hell and High Water (1954) and The Racers (1955) opposite three top male films stars (Victor Mature, Richard Widmark and Kirk Douglas, respectively), Darvi's limited abilities were painfully transparent. Not only was she hampered by an ever-so-slight crossed-eyed appearance, she had a trace of a lisp which, combined with a foreign accent, made her speech appear slurred and difficult to understand. It didn't take long for the actress to go off the deep end. Within a short time, a major sex scandal involving Mr. Zanuck had wife Virginia packing Darvi's bags and any "career" she once had here in America was over. She retreated back to Europe, made a few inconsequential films, and quickly returned to her adverse habits -- liquor and the gambling tables. But this time there was no one to save her. Mounting debts and despair eventually turned her thoughts to suicide. After several attempts, Darvi finally succeeded in 1971 after turning on the gas stove in her apartment. She was only 42.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (2)

Claude Rouas (13 November 1960 - 1961) (annulled)
Alban Cavalade (7 October 1950 - 1952) (divorced)

Trade Mark (1)

Husky voice; angular features

Trivia (11)

After returning to Europe Darvi regularly called on ex-lover Darryl F. Zanuck to rescue her financially from mounting gambling debts . He ignored her final plea, just before her suicide in 1971.
Committed suicide by using her oven to gas herself in her Paris apartment. Her body was not discovered for ten days.
Marlon Brando was originally scheduled to appear opposite Darvi in the Technicolor epic The Egyptian (1954). During the script read-through before filming began, the pair disliked each other at first sight. Bella, cast as the courtesan Nefer, was also jeered by more experienced star Jean Simmons who laughed with other cast members that Darvi was "an actress who 'nefer' was." Just as filming was to start, Brando refused to make the film, his agent telling studio head Darryl F. Zanuck: "He doesn't like the director, he doesn't like the role. And he can't stand Bella Darvi!" Edmund Purdom was cast in the role.
Romantically linked to many high-powered and famous men in mostly brief relationships. They included Jean-Pierre Aumont, Alexander D'Arcy, Robert Stack, Prince Aly Khan, Brad Dexter, Erich Maria Remarque, Renato Grassi, Marc Michel, Jerry Haskell, French matinée idol Philippe Lemaire and John Ireland. Her love life was always juicy fodder for the tabloids.
At one point her gambling was so out of control that she was forced to pawn her jewels, furs, clothing, furniture and two poodles to make ends meet.
In 1959 she was forced to curb her bad habits when she was seriously injured in an auto accident and was taken to a Paris nursing home for three months to recover.
Despite scathing reviews for her performance in The Egyptian (1954) following its release in 1954, in recent years Darvi has received some praise from the critics, including Camille Paglia, who described her performance as "hypnotic".
She had three brothers (one of whom died in a concentration camp) and one sister.
Spoke French, English, German, Italian and Polish.
Henry Fine said of her: "She behaved like a most circumspect young lady, but whenever you came near her, you could feel the heat coming out of her. She was one of the sexiest females I have ever encountered, a great lovely ball of shimmering fire - but wrapped up in iron control. But you did have to wonder about her, and who was going to get burned when she did burst into flames."
For Virginia Fox Zanuck, producer Darryl F. Zanuck's wife, Darvi initially became something of a best friend and favorite niece. They went shopping and frequently lunched together, and Bella moved into the Zanucks' Santa Monica beach house in November 1952. But in January 1954, Virginia discovered through her daughter Susan that Darvi and her husband were romantically involved and threw her out. Bella hastily returned to Paris, Zanuck left his wife and followed her, and although the Zanucks never lived together again, they remained married.

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