Rita Cadillac (1936 - 1995) was a French striptease artist, who appeared in a dozen French crime films in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/297. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.
Rita Cadillac was born as Nicole Yasterbelsky in Paris, France, in 1936. At age 18, she began making a name for herself as an exotic dancer on the stage at Paris’ famous Crazy Horse Saloon. Rachel Shteir writes in her book on the history of striptease that Cadillac did complicated, highly produced, funny, sexy numbers. In one of her most famous boudoir acts, set in a 1880’s Arizona honky-tonk, Cadillac removed her white corset with green polka dots and her black tulle gloves with an agonizing slowness, that inspired total silence in the theatre. Her well-proportioned form became legendary in European popular culture circles. She used her pseudonym also for her records and films. Between 1959 and 1962 she recorded witty and racey songs like Ne comptez pas sur moi - pour me montrer toute nue (Don’t Count on Me to Show Myself Totally Nude), Adonis, C'est fou (It's Crazy) and J'ai peur de coucher toute seule (I'm Afraid to Sleep All Alone). At the time, a couple of Scopitone clips were made of her songs.
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/296. Photo: Bernard of Hollywood.
Rita Cadillac appeared in a dozen films, both in leading roles and in small supporting parts, often doing a striptease number. She made her film debut in Soirs de Paris/Paris’ Evenings (1954, Jean Laviron), a sexploitation film about the night life of Paris. More interesting were Gueule d'ange/Pleasures and Vices (1955, Marcel Blistène) with Viviane Romance, the film-noir Jusqu'au dernier/Until the Last One (1957, Pierre Billon) starring Jeanne Moreau, and the espionage thriller Me faire ça à moi/Do That to Me (1960, Pierre Grimblat) with Eddie Constantine. The most distinguished of her films of the 1950’s was René Clément's Gervais (1956), for which, ironically enough, she received no credit, merely serving in one scene as the body double for Suzy Delair, who was 20 years her senior.
American poster for the Spanish sexploitation film Juventud a la intemperie/The Unsatisfied (1961).
In the early 1960’s Rita Cadillac acted in crime films like Dossier 1413/Secret File 1413 (1961, Alfred Rode) and La prostitution/Prostitution (1963, Maurice Boutel). She also appeared in more high profile films like Mélodie en sous-sol/Any Number Can Win (1962, Henri Verneuil) starring Jean Gabin and Alain Delon, and Cadavres en vacances/Copses on Holiday (1963, Jacqueline Audry) with Simone Renant. Outside France, she starred in the Spanish crime film Juventud a la intemperie/The Unsatisfied (1961, Ignacio F. Iquino) and played a supporting part in the Greek musical comedy Afto to kati allo! (1963, Grigoris Grigoriou). Then her film career halted. Later she worked on TV in the series Max le débonnaire (1967, Yves Allégret) and on stage in La Maison de Zaza by Gaby Bruyère (1971, Robert Manuel), at the Théâtre des Nouveautés in Paris. Reportedly she also appeared in operas. In 1981 she made a come-back for the cameras in the celebrated film and mini series Das boot/The Boat (1981-1985, Wolfgang Petersen) as Monique, a club singer in the town of La Rochelle. Rita Cadillac died of cancer in Deauville, France, in 1995.
Rita Cadillac sings C'est Fou in Scopitone no. A-14. Source: Spikepriggen (YouTube).
Scene from Afto to kati allo! (1963). Source: GrVidsMaster (YouTube).
Sources: Bruce Eder (AllMovie), Rachel Shteir (Striptease: the untold history of the girlie show), Wikipedia and IMDb.