02 January 2017

Exported to the USA: Corinne Calvet

Alluring French leading lady Corinne Calvet (1925-2001) made a big splash in Hollywood in the early 1950s with her sultry looks and her highly publicised legal battles.

Corinne Calvet>
Dutch postcard by Takken, Utrecht, no. AX 309. Photo: Paramount.

Corinne Calvet
Dutch postcard, no. AX 319. Photo: Paramount.

Corinne Calvet
Mexican collectors card, no. 96. Photo: 20th Century Fox.

Corinne Calvet
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 604. Photo: Paramount, 1951.

Corinne Calvet
British Greetings postcard. Photo: 20th Century Fox.


Corinne Calvet was born as Corinne Dibos in Paris in 1925. Her mother was one of the scientists who contributed to the invention of Pyrex, a glassware that enabled food to be cooked directly in the glass in an oven.

At the age of 12 Corinne appeared in a short film about billiards called Super Cue Men. She decided to become an actress while studying law at the Sorbonne. She went to study at L'Ecole du Cinema and after WW II she appeared in French radio and stage productions.

She made her feature film début with a small role in La part de l'ombre/Blind Desire (Jean Delannoy, 1945) starring Jean-Louis Barrault. Soon followed bigger roles in Pétrus (Marc Allégret, 1846) with Fernandel, Nous ne sommes pas mariés/We Are Not Married (Bernard-Roland, Gianni Pons, 1946) and Le château de la dernière chance/The Castle of the Last Chance (Jean-Paul Paulin, 1947).

She was discovered in 1947 by Paramount producer Hal Wallis, who invited her to come to Hollywood. He cast the French beauty in the Casablanca derivation Rope of Sand (William Dieterle, 1949). As the only woman in a cast that included Burt Lancaster, Paul Henreid, Peter Lorre and Claude Rains, the curvaceous 23-year-old Calvet could not help but be noticed. Also in the cast was handsome 27-year-old John Bromfield, whom she soon married.

Next followed a role in the comedy My Friend Irma Goes West (Hal Walker, 1950), opposite Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, with whom she later also appeared in Sailor Beware (Hal Walker, 1952).

Calvet's few films made for Darryl F. Zanuck at 20th Century-Fox were somewhat better, two of them under John Ford, though they were among the director's weakest works: When Willie Comes Marching Home (1950), in which she played a French underground leader who woos soldier Dan Dailey, and as a vivacious barmaid fought over by soldiers Dailey and James Cagney in What Price Glory? (1952). Also at Fox, Calvet was a spirited partner of Danny Kaye in a nightclub act in On The Riviera (Walter Lang, 1951).

In 1952 Calvet filed a million-dollar slander lawsuit to actress Zsa Zsa Gabor for telling several people, including a newspaper columnist, that Calvet was not really French. Later that year this came out to be not a genuine feud but just another publicity stunt.

The following years Calvet appeared in a string of films, usually playing French characters, opposite such leading men as Alan Ladd in Thunder In The East (Charles Vidor, 1952), James Stewart in the excellent western The Far Country (Anthony Mann, 1954), and Tony Curtis in So This Is Paris (Richard Quine, 1955).

She also continued to act in Italian and French productions, like the thriller Bonnes à tuer/One Step to Eternity (Henri Decoin, 1954), Le ragazze di San Frediano/The Girls of San Frediano (Valerio Zurlini, 1955), and Le Avventure Di Giacomo Casanova/Sins of Casanova (Steno, 1955) opposite Gabriele Ferzetti.

Corinne Calvet
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 319. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Corinne Calvet
Dutch postcard by J. Sleding, Amsterdam, no. 38.

Corinne Calvet
Yugoslavian postcard by Studio Sombor, no. 192.

Corinne Calvet
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 639, offered by S.A. Victoria, Brussels. Photo: Paramount Pictures, 1950.

Corinne Calvet
British postcard. Photo: 20th Century Fox.

Has Corinne Been a Good Girl?

In 1955, Corinne Calvet married actor/writer Jeffrey Stone and cooled her acting career. The couple had a son, Robin. Between her marriages and liaisons she made sporadic appearances on American television series and in such films as the British suspense film Bluebeard's Ten Honeymoons (W. Lee Wilder, 1960) with George Sanders, Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man (Martin Ritt, 1962) and Apache Uprising (R.G. Springsteen, 1966).

In the 1970s she started a career as a psycho-therapist. On the screen she appeared in such fare as the TV film The Phantom of Hollywood (Gene Levitt, 1974) and the soft-core porn film Too Hot to Handle (Don Schain, 1976). In the 1980s, Calvet played a victim of Oliver Reed in Dr Heckle and Mr Hype (Charles B. Griffith, 1980), and had a cameo in The Sword And The Sorcerer (Albert Pyun, 1982).

Calvet was married four times. Her first marriage was to actor John Bromfield (1948-1954), who, she claimed had been ordered to marry her by their studio. She also claimed that "he had an addiction to sex, which he needed to satisfy in order to sleep". Her second marriage was to minor actor/writer Jeffrey Stone (1955-1962). In 1966 she married director Albert C. Gannaway in Las Vegas, with whom she had made the Western Plunderers of Painted Flats (1959), the last film for Republic Pictures. But Gannaway left her just a week after their marriage. In 1967, her longtime boyfriend, millionaire Donald Scott sued her to recover assets that he had placed under her name in order to hide them from his wife in a divorce battle. Saying that Calvet had used voodoo to control him, Scott settled his differences with her after a bitter two-week trial. Calvet's final marriage was to producer/commercial photographer Robert J. Wirt (1968-1971). All marriages ended in divorce.

Calvet once told a reporter that American men make wonderful husbands if you don't love them. But if you love them, she advised, don't marry them. Corinne Calvet died in 2001 in Los Angeles of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 76. She is survived by a son of her fourth marriage, Michael.

In her memoir, entitled Has Corinne Been a Good Girl? (1983), she stated that the roles she played for Hollywood studios typecasted her and never challenged her acting ability. And about the title: readers and filmgoers were left to make up their own minds as to the answer.

Corinne Calvet
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. D 119. Photo: Paramount.

Corinne Calvet
British postcard in the Picturegoer Series, London, no. W. 741. Photo: Paramount.

Corinne Calvet
British postcard in the Celebrity Autograph Series by L.D. LTD., London, no. 172. Photo: Universal-International.

Corinne Calvet
French postcard, no. 850. Photo: 20th Century Fox.

Corinne Calvet
Dutch postcard by Takken, Utrecht, no. 1609. Photo: Paramount.

Corinne Calvet
Vintage postcard.

Trailer for My Friend Irma Goes West (1950). Source: Paramountmovies Digital (YouTube).

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Brian J. Walker (Brian’s Drive-In Theater), Philippe Garnier (Libération), Jon Thurber (Los Angeles Times), Ronald Bergan (The Guardian), Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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