28 August 2017

Nicole Besnard (1928-2017)

French actress Nicole Besnard died on 20 August 2017. She appeared in several French films of the 1950s, including the classic La Beauté du diable (1950) by René Clair.

Nicole Besnard (1928-2017)
German postcard. Photo: Prisma. Publicity still for La Beauté du diable/Beauty and the Devil (René Clair, 1950).

Beauty and the Devil

Nicole Suzanne Fernande Besnard was born in 1928 in Grenoble, France. After spending part of her childhood in Grenoble, her family moved to Paris during the war.

She became a student of Beatrix Dussane at the Conservatory of dramatic art of Paris. Besnard also entered at the Cours Simon.

She made her film debut in the girls reformatory drama Au royaume des cieux/The Sinners (Julien Duvivier, 1949) with Serge Reggiani.

Then followed the Faust adaptation La Beauté du diable/Beauty and the Devil (René Clair, 1950), with Gérard Philipe and Michel Simon alternating as Faust and Mephistoles. Besnard played the adorable gypsy girl Marguerite, who finally redeems Faust.

Her other films include Ils étaient cinq/They Were Five (Jacques Pinoteau, 1951) with Jean Carmet, Leguignon guérisseur/Leguinon, Healer (Maurice Labro, 1954) and the German musical An der schönen blauen Donau/At The Beautiful Blue Danube (Hans Schweikart, 1955) with Hardy Krüger.

Gérard Philipe and Nicole Besnard in La Beauté du diable (1950)
French postcard by Editions P.I. / Editions du Musée Grévin, Paris, no. 4. Photo: Musée Grévin, a wax museum in Paris, recreated a scene in La Beauté du diable/Beauty and the Devil (René Clair, 1950) with Gérard Philipe and Nicole Besnard. Caption: Voyage de noces a Venise (Honeymoon in Venice).

Passion for antique furniture

In 1958, Nicole Besnard abandoned the cinema and the theatre to devote herself to her passion for antique furniture.

Her final film was the filmed operetta L'Auberge en folie/The inn gone mad (Pierre Chevalier, 1957) with Basque singer Rudi Hirigoyen and Geneviève Kervine. Besnard only had a small supporting part in it.

Besnard went to work for an antique dealer in Paris. She had a daughter, Brigitte, with Ole Fredrik Christian Bornemann, a lawyer, journalist and author of detective novels.

Nicole Besnard died of lung problems in Porspoder in Britany, where she had lived the past 15 years, to be close to her daughter. She was 89.

Nicole Besnard (1928-2017)
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 1309. Photo: Unionfilm / Vogelmann. Publicity still for An der schönen blauen Donau/At The Beautiful Blue Danube (Hans Schweikart, 1955).

Sources: Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.

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