The Lovely Capucine

Screenshot of Capucine from the trailer for th...
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North to Alaska is on TV again and once more there is the lovely Capucine. For me, when I was growing up, she the epitomized all that was French and all that one aspired to be in terms of looks and grace.

Capucine was a Golden Globe-nominated French actress and fashion model best known for her role as Simone Clouseau in the 1963 comedy The Pink Panther and as Michelle “Angel” in North to Alaska.

Born Germaine Lefebvre in Saint-Raphaël, in the South of France, Cpucine  soon exhibited an independent, non-conformist personality.

She attended school in France and received a B.A. in foreign languages. At 17, while riding in a carriage in Paris, a commercial photographer noticed her. Her elegance and sophistication soon brought her to the attention of modeling agencies where she became a regular fashion model for such fashion houses as Givenchy.

Capucine was great friends with Audrey Hepburn, the two having met while modelling in the 40s. They shared an apartment together at the time and Capucine was later a witness to the 1969 wedding of Hepburn to Dr.Andrea Dotti in Lausanne, Switzerland.

A manic-depressive, Capucine’s life had on several occasions been saved by Hepburn (both women lived at the time in Switzerland) after repeated suicide attempts.

In 1949, Capucine made her film debut in the French film Rendez-vous de Juillet. On the set of Rendez-vous, she met Pierre Trabaud. The two married the following year. The marriage lasted only six months, and Capucine would never marry again. In 1957, film producer Charles K. Feldman spotted Capucine while modeling in New York City. Feldman brought her to Hollywood to learn English and to study acting under Gregory Ratoff. She was signed to a contract with Columbia Pictures in 1958 and landed her first English-speaking role in the filmSong Without End (1960) Starring opposite Dirk Bogarde. For the next few years, Capucine would go on to make six more major motion pictures before moving to Switzerland in 1962. She continued making films in Europe until her death.

Her best known films include: Curse of the Pink Panther (1983), Trail of the Pink Panther (1982), Red Sun (1971), Fellini Satyricon (1969), What’s New, Pussycat (1965), The 7th Dawn, (1964), The Pink Panther,(1963), The Lion,(1962), Walk on the Wild Side (1962), North to Alaska (1960) with John Wayne.

She also appeared on American television in the 80s in episodes of “Murder, She Wrote” and alongside old friend Robert Wagner in “Hart to Hart”.

Capucine  suffered from bipolar disorder throughout her life and sadly in 1990 she finally succeeded by jumping to her death from her eighth-floor apartment in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Born 6 January 1931, Saumur, Loire,( or Toulon,) France
Died 17 March 1990, Lausanne, Switzerland

Here is a small tribute:

Disque Bleu Et La Vie En Rose

I fell in love with Edith Piaf a very long time ago.

I was fourteen and crazy for all things French.

At that time in our lives most of us fantasize about finding the great love. Girls did it when I was young and I hope they do it still.

We try to imagine what it will be like.  Most of my ideas about love came from reading Françoise Sagan ; “a charming little monster”.  Then I discovered Piaf and love on a completely different level; love in the bones and soul as well in the heart and the flesh.

Piaff’s voice wreaks of pain, as my breath must have wreaked of the forbidden Gauloises Disque Bleu cigarettes.

I can’t remember how I came to own a recording of La Vie En Rose.  But I can remember the days leading up to my 15th birthday very well.  In the twilight, not wanting to switch the light on to spoil the mood and dreaming to the sound of her voice singing this over and over again;

“When he takes me in his arms and speaks softly to me, I see life in rosy hues. He tells me words of love, words of every day. And in them I become something. He has entered my heart”

This is her signature tune. She co-wrote it with Marguerite Monnot, the composer. According to the story, it was published under someone else’s name only because he was licensed to publish and Piaf was not.

For me, this the most perfect love song and it is ageless.

It was the most popular of her songs by far, until she sang Non Je Ne Regrette Rien, but that is another story.

If you would like to see, as well as hear, her sing the song go to this link.

If you just want to listen to what I heard all those years ago then here you are.


Sherlock Holmes and a Mystery

On Location 1f
Benedict Cumberbatch, a 21st Century Sherlock

We all know Mr Darcy of Pride and Prejudice has a mysterious attraction for women. It has been pondered on for years and by many! But is the same thing true of Sherlock Holmes? Certainly for me it is! For some reason this hero of detective fiction fascinates me! And I don’t think it is only for the quality of his mind, although that is certainly part of the magic.

Sherlock Holmes certainly seems to represent some archetype as a Victorian gentlemen detective. This brilliant, London based, “consulting” detective has an odd charisma all his own. He seems to mesmerise both men and women and people have great difficulty recognising that he is, in truth, a creature of fiction. Many visitors seek out his home and I gather letters are still sent to his London address asking for help in solving difficult crimes.

But for all his popularity, he never seems a wholly good character. He is flawed and ambiguous, even though he is supposed to have taken up bee-keeping in later life. There seems to be something that is not quite right about him and something that is more than a little wicked. There is certainly arrogance and a chilling intellect that is dangerous, magnetic and repulsive at the same time. We float around him in our admiration like moths around a blue flame that should be cold as ice.

Apparently, he is the most portrayed character in film and in his latest TV incarnation, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, we seem to have a Sherlock for the 21st Century.

As for me, fascinated as I am by Sherlock, he is certainly not someone I wish I could meet. His relationships with women are distinctly odd and I suspect he would be cruel. If I did encounter him, I am sure I would loathe him intensely in the flesh but there on page or screen, oh my! I can’t wait till he turns up again.

Nureyev, Fontaine and Falling in Love

Dame Margot Fontaine ballet dancing with Rudolph Nureyev.

In 1961, Rudolf Nureyev defected/leaped to the West, and on 21 February 1962 he and Fonteyn first appeared on stage together in a performance of Giselle.   It was a great success; during the curtain calls Nureyev dropped to his knees and kissed Fonteyn’s hand, cementing an on-and-offstage partnership which lasted until her 1979 retirement. Fonteyn and Nureyev became known for inspiring repeated frenzied curtain calls and bouquet tosses. A performance of the Giselle was televised and that was the first time I saw them dance together.  I fell in love with these two beautiful people.  If you would like to know what all the fuss was about then follow this link

Despite their differences in background, temperament, and a nineteen-year difference in age, Nureyev and Fonteyn became close lifelong friends but you were never quite sure about the extent of the friendship and whether there was the love affair you hoped for.  He said of her:

“At the end of Lac des Cygnes when she left the stage in her great white tutu I would have followed her to the end of the world.”

They remained close even after she retired to Panama!  When she was treated for cancer, Nureyev paid many of her medical bills and visited her often, despite his busy schedule as a performer and choreographer and despite his own health problems.

Nureyev said that they danced with “one body, one soul” and that Margot was “all he had, only her.” An observer said that “If most people are at level A, they were at level Z.”