Temperamental and beautiful Viviane Romance (1912 - 1991) played dozens of flirts, femme fatales and fallen women in black & white classics of the French cinema of the 1930’s and 1940’s.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, nr. 126. Photo: Discina.
French postcard by SERP, Paris, no. 41. Photo: Studio Harcourt.
French postcard by EPC, no. 166. Photo: A.C.E.
Dutch postcard by Takken, no. 1923.
French postcard, no. 554. Photo: Films Derby. Collection: Didier Hanson.
Viviane Romance was born Pauline Ronacher Ortmanns in 1912 in Roubaix, France. At 13, she made her debut as a bit player at the Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt, and at 14, she joined the troupe at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. In 1930 Viviane was elected Miss Paris, and caused a small scandal because she had a child. She made her film debut with a cameo role in Paris-girls (1929, Henry Roussell) with Fernand Fabre. She appeared in several films over the next few years, including La Chienne/The Bitch (1931, Jean Renoir), Liliom (1934, Fritz Lang), Zouzou (1934, Marc Allégret), La Bandera/The Bandage (1935, Julien Duvivier) with Jean Gabin, and Princesse Tam Tam/Princess Tam Tam (1935, Edmond T. Gréville), a French adaptation of G.B. Shaw's Pygmalion with Josephine Baker as a beautiful native African woman, who is ‘westernized’ by a handsome writer and then introduced to high society as an exotic princess. Viviane Romance made a strong impression in La belle équipe/The Good Crew (1936 Julien Duvivier) as the sensual Gina who plots the destruction of Jean Gabin’s character because he refuses to make love to her. La belle équipe constituted a milestone in the French Cinema. From this time on Romance was regarded as one of France's leading film actresses and an insurance at the box office.
French postcard by Viny, no. 12. Photo: Paris Film.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 13.
French postcard by P.I., Paris, no. 2.
French postcard by Ed. Chantal, Rueil, no. 24. Photo: Discina.
French postcard by Ed. Chantal, Rueil, no. 554 B. Photo: Sirius.
Fallen Women With Hearts of Gold
Viviane Romance reportedly was offered a Hollywood film contract, but she rejected. She preferred to make films in her native France and many noted directors aked her to. However, she also resided for many years in Italy where she made several Italian language films in the 1950’s. Throughout her career she played dozens of exotic femme fatales, courtisans, vamps and fallen women with hearts of gold. Among her best films were Angélica/Blood Red Rose (1940, Jean Choux), the excellent melodrama Vénus aveugle/Blind Venus (1941, Abel Gance), the dark thriller Panique/Panic (1946, Julien Duvivier) based on a novel by Georges Siménon, Passion (1951, Georges Lampin) and the anthology film Les Sept péchés capitaux/The Seven Deadly Sins (1952, Yves Allégret). Her last film from this period was Pitié pour les vamps/Pity for the Vamps (1956, Jean Josipovici). After 1956 her acting roles were few, but she starred with Jean Gabin in the suspenser Mélodie en sous-sol/Any Number Can Win (1962, Henri Verneuil). In 1973 she made one last appearance in the thriller Nada/The Nada Gang (1974, Claude Chabrol), answering a special request by director Claude Chabrol. It was her 65th film. She published her mémoires, Romantique à mourir in 1986. Viviane Romance died of cancer in 1991 in Nice, France. She had married and divorced three times. Her spouses were actor Georges Flamant , actor Clément Duhour and director Jean Josipovici.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, nr. 37. Sent by mail in 1944. Photo: Star.
French postcard by Erpé, nr. 509. Photo: Star.
French postcard by O.P., Paris, no. 125. Photo: Star.
French postcard by A.C.E., nr. 138.
German postcard. Photo: IFA-Film. Publicity still for Carmen (1945, Christian-Jaque).
Sources: Hal Erickson (Rovi), Yvan Foucart (Dictionnaire des Comédiens Français disparus), Wikipedia, and IMDb.