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Culture

French screen legend Michèle Morgan dies at 96

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-12-21

French actress Michèle Morgan, one of the greats of 20th-century French film and known to cinephiles as the "most beautiful eyes" of the cinema, died Tuesday at the age of 96, her family announced.

"In her 97th year, the most beautiful eyes of the cinema closed forever this morning, on Tuesday, December 20," her family said in a statement.

Morgan starred in some 70 movies and took home the best actress prize at the first-ever Cannes film festival. She was known for her regal azure gaze, made immortal in a line from the 1938 gangster movie "Port of Shadows" (Quai des Brumes).

"You've got lovely eyes, you know," Jean Gabin told the 18-year-old ingenue, thus sealing her status in French filmography as the "most beautiful eyes in cinema".

"It bothers me to hear that repeated so often," she said years later, although her 1977 memoir was entitled, "With eyes like that..."

She starred alongside Gabin, Jean Marais and Michel Simon as well as Humphrey Bogart, and won the 1946 Cannes award for her interpretation of a blind woman in "La Symphonie Pastorale", Jean Delannoy's adaptation of an André Gide novel.

Her career flourished from the 1940s to the 1960s but then faded with the arrival of New Wave cinema.

"Michèle Morgan was more than just a gaze. She personified elegance and grace, and her legend left its mark on many generations," French President François Hollande said in a statement.

Morgan was an "icon" who "takes with her the splendor of an age of which she was the queen", fellow actress Brigitte Bardot said in a handwritten note sent Tuesday night to AFP.

"Her beautiful eyes have closed forever after having illuminated and dazzled, for nearly a century," Bardot wrote, calling Morgan an "elegant and magnificent icon" of the cinema.

A religious service will be held Friday at 10:30am at the Saint-Pierre church in Neuilly-sur-Seine, the family said. Interment will take place at the Montparnasse cemetery at 12:30pm in the family vault.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2016-12-20

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