18 August 2015

Léontine Massart

Léontine Massart (1885-1980) was a French stage and screen actress of Belgian origin. She peaked in French silent film of the early 1910s.

Léontine Massart
French postcard bt Edition Pathé Frères. Photo: X.

Muse or fetish

Léontine Massart was born in Brussels in 1885. She was the sister of Mary Massart, who would marry and become the muse of French film director René Plaisetty. Mary acted in his films between 1918 and 1922.

Stage director and actor Firmin Gémier discovered Léontine Massart in Brussels where she was acting with an amateur theatre company. She joined him in Paris where in 1909 she acted in his direction of Master Bob, gagnant du Derby by Henry de Brisay and Marcel Lauras.

From 1909 she also acted at the companies of the Théâtre de l'Ambigu and the Théâtre Antoine.

Parallel she ran a career as silent film actress, in particular in many films directed by Camille de Morlhon whose muse or fetish she was for several years. From 1912 Massart exclusively focused on film acting, though she did direct one play during the First World War: Bravo (1916).

Léontine Massart
French postcard. Photo Pathé.

Joan of Arc

In 1908 Léontine Massart made her cinema debut in Albert Capellani’s Jeanne d’Arc/La vie de Jeanne d’Arc, right away playing the title role. After this production at Pathé Frères she became a regular Pathé actress, acting in countless shorts by the company of the Red Rooster.

Her repertory included historical and biblical dramas, such as Le tyran de Jérusalem (Camille de Morlhon, 1910) after Tasso, Le siège de Calais (Henri Andréani, 1911), Le jugement de Salomon (Henri Andréani, 1912), Le fils prodigue (Camille de Morlhon, 1912), Don Quichotte (Camille de Morlhon, 1913), La reine Margot (Henri Desfontaines, 1914) – in which she had the title role again, and Christophe Colomb (Gérard Bourgeois 1916) – in which she played Queen Isabella.

Massart also performed in modern dramas such as Par l’enfant (Camille de Morlhon, 1909), Le violon de grand-père (Michel Carré, 1911), L’envieuse (Albert Capellani, 1911), La fille des chiffoniers (Georges Monca, 1912), La broyeuse de coeurs (Camille de Morlhon, 1913) and Sacrifice surhumain (Camille de Morlhon, 1914).

She also figured in several comedies and farces such as some of the Rigadin comedies with the actor Prince such as Rigadin veut dormir tranquille (Georges Monca, 1910) and Le voile du bonheur (Albert Capellani, 1910), after a play by Georges Clemenceau, who is more famous as politician and whose only artistic work this was.

Léontine Massart
French postcard by Pathé Frères. Photo: X.

The end of a steady career

While Léontine Massart had a quite steady career in the 1910s up to the 1919 drama Le calvaire d’une reine by René Leprince and Ferdinand Zecca, she only performed in one film in the 1920s.

She only played in Mon p’tit (René Plaisetty, 1925) starring Arlette MarchalIt was also her last film.

By then, she was 40. All in all Massart had acted in well over 40 films, both short and feature-length, and almost 20 of these were directed by Camille De Morlhon.

Important male partners of Massart in these years were Henry Krauss, Henri Etievant, Pierre Magnier, Jean Kemm, Paul Capellani, Jean Dax, Firmin Gémier, and in particular Paul Franck.

Léontine Massart died in Paris in 1980 at the high age of 95 years.

Léontine Massart
French postcard, no. 4. Photo: Manuel.

Léontine Massart
French postcard. Photo: Pathé.

Sources: Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.

1 comment:

Beth Niquette said...

What a wonderful post! By the way, I loved your story about your Dad. lol He's the same age my Dad would have been this coming January. It sounds like he had a wonderful day! :D