18 November 2015

Dora Doll (1923-2015)

On 15 November 2015, French actress Dora Doll passed away at her home in Gard, France. She appeared in such classic French films as Henri-Georges Clouzot's Manon (1949), Jacques Becker's Touchez pas au grisbi (1954) and Jean Renoir's French Cancan (1955). Later she played in international films like The Young Lions (1958) with Marlon Brando and Julia (Fred Zinnemann, 1977) with Jane Fonda. And she was the grandmother in the first French soap opera, Cap des Pins/Tide of Life (1998-2000). Dora Doll was 93.

Dora Doll (1922-2015)
Vintage postcard, no. 5224.

Dora Doll (1922-2015)
French postcard by Edition du Globe, Paris, no. 445. Photo: Sam Lévin.

The Bitch or the Sexy Flirt

Dora Doll was born Dorothea Hermina Feinberg in Berlin in 1922. Her father was a banker. When she was two, her family moved from the German capital to Paris.

Against the will of her parents, she aspired to become an actress. As an auditor she attended the courses taught by Louis Jouvet at the Conservatory. At the end of the 1930s, she started to appear as an extra in the cinema, in French films by Marc Allégret or Marcel Carné.

One of her first bigger screen appearances was as Juliette in Henri-Georges Clouzot's Manon (1949), an adaptation of Abbé Prevost's classic novel Manon Lescaut, updated to post-World War II France. That same year, she married the actor Raymond Pellegrin and soon they had a daughter, Danielle.

Doll appeared in many French comedies, often as the bitch or the flirt with blond hair and too narrow sweaters. These comedies include Rendez-vous avec la chance/Bed for two (Emil-Edwin Reinert, 1950), with Danièle Delorme and La Rose rouge/The Red Rose (Marcello Pagliero, 1951). In both films, Louis de Funès featured in a supporting part.

An important role for her career was Lola, a cabaret dancer with a big heart and smile, in Touchez pas au grisbi (Jacques Becker, 1954) opposite Jean Gabin. Doll co-starred again with Gabin in Jean Renoir's French Cancan (1955).

In 1954, Raymond Pellegrin met Gisèle Pascal and he divorced from Doll in 1955.
A few years later, she could be seen as Simone in The Young Lions (Edward Dmytryk, 1958), an American war drama shot in Paris. The film is based upon a novel by prolific American author Irwin Shaw, and stars Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and Dean Martin.

Dora Doll (1922-2015)
French postcard by Editions du Globe, no. 444. Photo: Studio Harcourt.

Dora Doll (1922-2015)
Dutch postcard by DRC, Holland, no. 1640. Photo: Ufa / Hoche Production, Paris.

The French Miss Ellie

In the following decades, Dora Doll kept playing supporting parts but mostly in TV productions. She also regularly returned to the theatre. In 1965, she married singer François Deguelt, but the two separated six years later.

She regularly could be seen in French and international films. In the celebrated Hollywood drama Julia (Fred Zinnemann, 1977), she is the woman passenger accompanying Lillian Hellman (Jane Fonda) when Lily smuggled $50,000 through Nazi Germany for her friend Julia (Vanessa Redgrave).

In that same year, she played the gym teacher in the popular coming-of-age drama Diabolo Menthe (Diane Kurys, 1977). Another small part in an interesting film was Madame Mayeul in Violette Nozière (Claude Chabrol, 1978). Isabelle Huppert stars as an adolescent girl, who poisons her parents in order to back up her gold-digger boyfriend to elope together. In 1982, Doll played in another masterpiece, Ettore Scola's La nuit de Varennes/That Night in Varennes with Jean-Louis Barrault and Marcello Mastroianni.

Between 1998 and 2000, Dora Doll played the grandmother Louise Chantreuil in the TV series Cap des Pins/Tide of Life. In that first French soap opera, she was the mother of Paul Barge and mother-in-law of Claude Jade. Her Louise Chantreuil can be seen as the French 'Miss Ellie'.

In 1993 Dora Doll was awarded the first Prix Reconnaissance des cinéphiles for French actresses in honour of her life's work. She was made Knight of France's Ordre national du Mérite (National Order of Merit) in 2000.

Doll continued to act and IMDb counts a total of 223 film and TV credits. Her final film was Jacquou le Croquant (Laurent Boutonnat, 2007) featuring Gaspard Ulliel, and her last TV appearance was in the miniseries Les châtaigniers du désert/Chestnut desert (Caroline Huppert, 2010).

Dora Doll died of complications from a fall on 15 November 2015 at her home in Gard, France. She was 93.

Trailer for Touchez pas au grisbi (1954). Source: Rialto (YouTube).

Trailer for French Cancan (1955). Source: BFI trailers.

Sources: Les Gens du Cinema (French), AllMovieWikipedia and IMDb.

1 comment:

Beth Niquette said...

What a beauty Dora was! I'm so glad these wonderful actors and actresses are immortalized here on your blog.

I am fine, Paul. It has been a difficult week. The year anniversary of my Beloved's Heaven Day, Dad's three-year anniversary--we all miss him very much, and then the passing of three additional dear Friends. My heart and prayers go out to them, and to the people of France--their heartbreak, I can't even begin to imagine.