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Micheline Presle Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (6) | Trivia (57) | Personal Quotes (3)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 22 August 1922Paris, France
Birth NameMicheline Nicole Julia Emilienne Chassagne
Height 5' 6¼" (1.68 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Dark-haired, Paris-born Micheline Presle (better known in the States as Micheline Prelle) was the daughter of a businessman and took acting classes as a teen. She was discovered by Georg Wilhelm Pabst and cast in Jeunes filles en détresse (1939) (Young Girls in Distress) and Four Flights to Love (1940) in which she played a dual role. She proceeded to make films during the Occupation, and by 1947, was deemed an important young French star, with Devil in the Flesh (1947) (Devil in the Flesh) gaining her world-wide attention. Her marriage to American actor-turned-producer William Marshall in 1950 led her to attempt Hollywood pictures. None of her pictures, which included Under My Skin (1950), American Guerrilla in the Philippines (1950) and Adventures of Captain Fabian (1951), the last one produced and directed by husband Marshall, endeared her to American audiences; however, despite co-starring opposite top Hollywood stars John Garfield, Tyrone Power and Errol Flynn. Divorced by 1954, she never adjusted to the Hollywood way of life and returned willingly to Paris with her daughter, actress/director Tonie Marshall. She continued to reign supreme in French films and has appeared frequently on the stage as well. Some of her post-Hollywood films include House of Ricordi (1954) (House of Ricordi), Royal Affairs in Versailles (1954) (Royal Affairs in Versailles), Her Bridal Night (1956) (The Bride Is Much Too Beautiful), Demoniqque (1958), King of Hearts (1966) (King of Hearts), Donkey Skin (1970) (The Magic Donkey), Le journal du séducteur (1996) (Diary of a Seducer) and Les misérables (1995).

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

Spouse (2)

William Marshall (3 September 1949 - 1955) (divorced) (1 child)
Michel Lefort (25 April 1945 - ?) (divorced)

Trade Mark (6)

Her chic elegance
Her equal proficiency at drama and comedy
Mermaid figure
Her singing skills, often put to use in film
Often played sassy heroines who were much ahead of their time

Trivia (57)

Born at 1:15pm-BST.
Festival tribute at the Créteil International Women's Film Festival, France. [1987]
Mother of Tonie Marshall.
Member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1959.
Her birth name is Micheline Chassagne. She took the name Presle from the character she plays in her star-making film Jeunes filles en détresse (1939), Jacqueline Presle. She had been previously credited as Micheline Michel.
She's a boxing fan.
Was the most successful French screen actress of the 40's along with her friends Danielle Darrieux and Michèle Morgan.
At the beginning of the 40's, she was engaged to Louis Jourdan, whom she fist met during a holiday in St.Tropez in 1938. They were close to getting married at one point, but eventually broke up in a hard way. Jourdan took this so badly that, when he was reunited with Micheline in Twilight (1944), he refused to speak any word to her except for when they were in front of the camera. Micheline was initially irritated by this, but eventually ended up laughing at the whole thing.
Worried by her strong and rebellious nature, her parents had her spend four of her formative years at the 'Notre-Dame de Sion' nunnery, a very strict religious school. She also studied at the ENSBA (École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts/School of Fine Arts).
Teresa Wright was bridesmaid at her wedding to William Marshall in Santa Barbara.
She always showed an interest for acting since her childhood, staging plays along with her brother. She got her first official acting experience when, under advice from her godfather, she auditioned for director Christian Stengel, who was his friend. This lead Stengel to cast her in a minor part in Je chante (1938).
Her father, Robert Chassagne, was an important industrialist and stockbroker. Mother Yvonne Bacelier was an art lover and occasional painter. Micheline credits Yvonne for having passed on to her the love for the artistic subjects. Robert didn't share the same interests, but, after a bankruptcy, he relocated to the US under a new name, leaving the family behind and clearing the path for Micheline to pursue her acting career.
She was awarded the "Victoire du Cinéma Français" for her performance in Sins of Pompeii (1950).
She was named Best French Actress of 1947 by the press for her performance in Devil in the Flesh (1947).
Went to Hollywood in the late 40's under the advice of her American husband William Marshall, who promised her that he would've done everything possible to help her career. Micheline later stated that she didn't like any of her American roles.
Was cast as the title heroine in Angel and Sinner (1945) after Viviane Romance declined the role. Thinking her too slender for the part, the producer first sent her on a holiday on the Pyrenees to gain weight.
She's born in Montparnasse, Paris.
She acted in a few radio plays before a collaborator of Georg Wilhelm Pabst would spot her at Raymond Rouleau's courses of dramatic arts and arrange for her to have an audition with the director. This lead Micheline to play her first relevant role in Jeunes filles en détresse (1939). Her performance won her the Suzanne Bianchetti Award for the most promising young actress of the year.
Her relation with second husband William Marshall secretly began when he was still married to Michèle Morgan. At around the same time, Michèle was having an extra-conjugal with her Fabiola (1949) co-star Henri Vidal (whom she later married) and William took advantage of this to gain custody of the son he had had with her, Mike Marshall. Mike consequently spent part of his childhood with William and his then wife Micheline, who helped raising him alongside her daughter Tonie Marshall. Michèle never bore any hard feelings towards Micheline and always credited her for taking very good care of Mike as a second mother figure.
During the shooting of Paris Frills (1945), director Jacques Becker openly announced to Micheline his plans to win her heart, to which she replied that this was extremely unlikely. Becker's courtship lasted for the entire shooting, but he eventually ended up sabotaging his own interest when he brought Micheline to a cocktail party where she knew her first husband, wine broker Michel Lefort.
She studied rhythmic dance with Irène Popard. Under advice from actress Corinne Luchaire, she attended the stage acting courses of Raymond Rouleau (her future co-star in Paris Frills (1945)) and was eventually sent to study with René Simon. At the Simon classes, she befriended her fellow students Robert Dhéry, Colette Brosset, Jacqueline Gauthier and Daniel Gélin (her future TV husband in three seasons of Les saintes chéries (1965)).
She's a member of the ADMD (The World Federation of Right to Die Societies) Honorary Committee. She signed a document in 2009 in favour of the legalization of euthanasia.
Became good friends with Françoise Fabian while working with her in a stage production of Georges Feydeau's 'A Flea in the Ear' in the late 60's. They were so inseparable at the time that François Truffaut nicknamed them 'Les Petites Marguerites' after Vera Chytilová's Daisies (1966) (which was released in France with that title).
She was named Best French actress of 1942 by the press for her performance in La nuit fantastique (1942).
In her autobiography 'Le temps et rien d'autre', Françoise Fabian tells a funny anecdote about working with Micheline in a stage production of Georges Feydeau's 'A Flea in the Ear'. The two actresses had such electric chemistry and enjoyed doing the play so much that they had to be careful not to look at each other in the eyes during a performance, otherwise they would burst into laughter. During a Swiss tournée, they once arrived at the theatre to find a poster reading 'Mesdemoiselles Fabian and Presle are asked to be a bit more serious during the performance'.
She signed the Manifesto of the 343 to support the legalization of abortion in France.
She struggled for Jean Gabin to be cast as her co-star in Jean Delannoy's Les jeux sont faits (1947) (to the point of suggesting that she would have worked for free), but Marcello Pagliero was given the role instead. She was later teamed up with Gabin in Delannoy's Le baron de l'écluse (1960).
She personally wanted Gérard Philipe as her co-star in Devil in the Flesh (1947). She later admitted to have fallen in love with him during the shooting of the movie.
She initially had some difficulty to put her career back on track when she returned to France after her Hollywood venture, for multiple reasons. One was that many people felt some animosity towards her for having kept to work while the country was occupied by the Nazi. Another was that she had broken the contract she used to have with Paul Graetz (which had always given her carte blanche when it came to choose and advise her collaborators) by the time she had signed a fruitless, 6 years one with 20th Century Fox that hadn't allowed her any say on her Hollywood projects. As a direct consequence, it had become increasingly difficult for Micheline to find movies that would give her the same satisfaction and freedom. Fellow stars of the period such as Danielle Darrieux, Michèle Morgan and- to a lesser degree- Jean Gabin all met similar difficulties after doing some work in America.
In 1961, she was passing by 'La Rotonde' cinema in Paris with her car when she saw the poster of Jacques Demy's Lola (1961). She was so intrigued by it that she rushed to see the film. Once the movie ended, she called her agent on the phone, asking him who Demy was and stating that she would have liked to meet him. The director later cast the actress in three of his movies.
When she first auditioned for a role in Georg Wilhelm Pabst's Jeunes filles en détresse (1939), she remembers arriving to the appointment furious because she had a cold and her mother had muffled her up with a scarf. Pabst was so amused by her bad mood that he offered her a role in the film and gave her the possibility to choose which one. She chose the leading role of Jacqueline.
Claude Chabrol cast her in The Blood of Others (1984), one of the many projects he had accepted against the grain and chosen to handle in the most superficial way as possible. When Micheline asked him if he had any ideas about how she should have played her character, he replied that he didn't. The actress eventually played the role to good reviews, leading the director to tell her with self-irony that she had been much more praised than the film itself.
Last name is pronounced Prel. Producer Darryl F. Zanuck thought she should better be credited as 'Micheline Prelle' in her American movies because the silent 's' might have generated some pronunciation confusion.
Out of the three most successful French actresses of her time (the other two being Danielle Darrieux and Michèle Morgan), Micheline was the only one not to have her career remotely damaged by the coming of the French New Wave and subsequent consecration of a new type of actor. Morgan- a frequent target of François Truffaut back when he served as a critic of the 'Cahiers du Cinéma'- largely fell under the radar in the 60's and did just a handful of minor film appearances after that. With the exception of a key role in Jacques Demy's The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), Darrieux mostly appeared in unremarkable movies in the 60's, was basically absent from 70's cinema and started to put her career back on track only in the 80's. Claude Chabrol cast both actresses in small roles in his Bluebeard (1963) as victims of Charles Denner's murderous title villain who are later incinerated and go up in smoke. Micheline, on the other hand, always kept doing solid work and was object of great admiration from the New Wave directors. Jacques Rivette offered the actress one of her best roles in his masterpiece The Nun (1966), Alain Resnais provided her with a César-nominated part in I Want to Go Home (1989) and Chabrol offered her a punchy cameo in The Blood of Others (1984). Micheline herself had been one of the first champions of the French New Wave since she had served as Jury member at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, where she was won over by Resnais' Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) and Truffaut's The 400 Blows (1959) .
She was considered for the role of Madame Emery in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), but she eventually declined it because director Jacques Demy wouldn't have allowed her to do her own singing. Anne Vernon was cast instead.
Jean Renoir and François Truffaut are the French filmmakers she most regrets never to have worked with.
She was offered the role of Countess Anna Staviska in 5 Fingers (1952), but she had to turn it down due to pregnancy. Danielle Darrieux was cast instead.
When Jacques Rivette approached her for The Nun (1966), she was hoping that he would offer her the role of Mme de Chelles (eventually played by Liselotte Pulver), but he had actually thought of her for the Mme de Moni part. Micheline was still happy to be part of the project.
She left Les saintes chéries (1965) after three seasons because the show had been so successful that she feared people wouldn't remember her for anything else.
She was awarded the 'Victoire du Cinéma Français' for her performance in Devil in the Flesh (1947).
She was the one to suggest the title for her movie Le boucher, la star et l'orpheline (1975).
On the set of Paris Frills (1945), she became close friends with milliner Gabrielle (who had designed the hats for the movie), who passed on to her the love for boxing. Gabrielle tragically disappeared in a plane accident with her officer boyfriend shortly after and was never found, a tragedy Micheline had much trouble recovering from.
She's a great fan of Marlon Brando, whom she has regarded as a genius since she first saw him in the stage production of 'A Streetcar named Desire' which made him a star. When under contract with Paul Graetz, she once dined with the producer at his hotel along with Brando. They discussed the idea of having the two actors starring in Claude Autant-Lara's Rouge et noir (1954) in the roles of Julian Sorel and Mathilde de La Mole (eventually played by Gérard Philipe and Antonella Lualdi), but when Micheline had to follow against the grain her husband William Marshall in the US, she broke her contract with Graetz and this collaboration never happened. Other projects she had to renounce to with great sadness were Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948) (in Joan Fontaine's role), Occupe-toi d'Amélie..! (1949) (in Danielle Darrieux's role) and the stage play 'La Petite Hutte', with which Suzanne Flon scored a great personal success.
She mainly agreed to appear in Frenchie King (1971) under the direction of Guy Casaril to sing a song in a scene with Claudia Cardinale. When Christian-Jaque replaced Casaril as director and re-edited the movie, most of scene was cut and the song could just be heard for an instant in the background.
In the 70's, she recorded an LP called 'Play songs, folk songs'.
After Viviane Romance and Fernand Gravey backed out of the project, Jean Renoir offered Micheline and her then boyfriend Louis Jourdan the roles of Floria Tosca and Mario Cavaradossi in a film version of 'Tosca' co-starring Michel Simon as Scarpia. The project never saw the light of the day.
She's never been particularly fond of L'amour d'une femme (1953), which is now regarded as one of her best films, mainly for two reasons. The first is that she didn't find her characters' reasons very believable in the writing. The other is that she felt her co-star Massimo Girotti was too attractive for his role and his performance would've been more effective had he been allowed to act with his natural Italian accent instead of getting dubbed.
She's a great admirer of Gérard Depardieu. She witnessed his stage debut in 'Boudu Saved from Drowning'.
In her autobiography 'L'arrière-memoire', she tells a funny anecdote about shooting Twilight (1944) in Toulon with Danièle Delorme. They were staying together at the Victoria Hotel and, during breaks from shooting, they used to play a game: they liked to go at the clothes shop 'Dames De France', where Danièle used to steal everything she could put her hands on and hide it in Micheline's purse. One day they were caught by a couple of policemen and, to help her and Danièle's position, Micheline thought of suggesting the two to contact her friends at the hotel. This remark actually ended up irritating the policemen because, unbeknownst to the two actresses, the hotel was actually full with Gestapo officers. Micheline and Danièle so spent a couple hours in a jail cell before being bailed out by director Marc Allégret and actor Claude Dauphin. One day after the accident, one of the two cops brought Micheline flowers on the set of the film. After standing trial for the crime, the actress was sentenced to a jail period of two months with parole. Her criminal record was deleted a couple years later.
During the war, she lived for two years at the Grand Hôtel in Cannes, as did many other actors who wanted to keep working. At the time, the hotel's manager was the father of her then boyfriend Louis Jourdan.
She appeared in movie adaptations of both Raymond Radiguet's novels: Devil in the Flesh (1947) and Le bal du comte d'Orgel (1970).
She's an avid poker player.
She first met second husband William Marshall at the Savoy Hotel in London, where she was staying before a travel to the US. William was there with his wife of the time, Michèle Morgan, who was currently shooting The Fallen Idol (1948) and immediately introduced him to her friend Micheline. Michèle once recalled with irony that, after the encounter, she mentioned to William how gorgeous Micheline looked, something 'he had already noticed'.
Forced to renounce to the role of Mathilde de la Mole in Claude Autant-Lara's Rouge et noir (1954), she eventually played Mme de Rénal in the TV version Le rouge et le noir (1961).
Was credited in the ads of Claude Chabrol's Les liens de sang (1978) as one of the main stars (as Micheline Presles) despite not appearing in the movie at all. It's unclear if this was due to confusion with actual cast member Micheline Lanctôt or was intentionally done as a box office draw.
She played the wife of Claude Piéplu 4 times, in Casque bleu (1994), Le voyage de Pénélope (1996), Fallait pas!... (1996) and Good Weather, But Stormy Late This Afternoon (1986). They also both appeared in La gueule de l'emploi (1974), Après après-demain (1990), as well as the same segment of The Devil and the Ten Commandments (1962) and the same episode of Merci Bernard (1982).
Plays a fictional version of herself in daughter Tonie Marshall's Bastard Brood (1996). The film sees Nathalie Baye's Sylvie trying to connect with her despicable father Julius Mandenne (Jean Yanne), a storyline influenced by Tonie's feelings towards her real life father, William Marshall. Micheline appears in the movie as Sylvie's mother.

Personal Quotes (3)

[about her stay at the Grand Hôtel during WW2] It was extraordinary. We'd met producers on the terraces, we'd go out on boats for picnics on the island. We were far from the war. And then people began to leave, the producers, most of the producers were Jewish.
[on working in film during WW2] I was making Paris Frills (1945) with Jacques Becker and we'd take the métro home in the morning. There were often members of the milice on the métro, and one in particular struck me. After the war, I found myself standing in line for something and he was in front of me. I said to him, 'I remember you very well'. He didn't reply.
[on Nazi-occupied France] I detested the Germans and did my best not to see them. It wasn't an act of heroism, it wasn't active resistance, it was an attitude. I'd play cards at a friend's house or I'd meet a group of young people like myself at cafés. We'd talk, but we were careful. A very good friend of mine, Joël Le Tac, was in the resistance, but I didn't know. He'd go away for a while -only later did I learn he often traveled to London- and then he'd come back. No questions. Only when he was arrested did I understand. I managed to get some food to him at La Santé prison, then he was deported to Dechau. But he survived.

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