Mistinguett

(1872-1956)
   Actress. Born Jeanne Bourgeoise, Mistinguett aspired to be a performer from an early age. She made up her stage name as a child and made her theatrical debut in 1895 while not much more than a child. Mistinguett had a long career in the Parisian theater and café-concerts. She was one of the great stars of French cabaret and had a successful career as a recording artist. She was known throughout the world and was probably the most famous female entertainer of the day. She came to the screen with the intent of making herself a film star.
   Mistinguett appeared in more than forty films during her career. She made her screen debut in the starring role in Henri Burguet's silent film L'Empreinte ou la main rouge (1909), in which she starred opposite Max Dearly, with whom she had worked in the music halls and the theater. Other films in which Mistinguett starred include the uncredited films Ce bon docteur (1909), L'Enlèvement de Mademoiselle Biffin (1909), Un mari qui l'échappe belle (1909), L'Oubliée (1912), Léocadie veut se faire mannequin (1911), and La Fiancée recalcitrante (1909). She appeared in several films directed by Albert Capellani, including La Vagabonde (1911), L'Épouvante (1911), La Glu (1913), the four-part series Les Misérables (1913), and Fleur de pavé (1909), codirected with Michel Carré. She also appeared in Georges Denola's Zizi la bouquetière (1910), La Ruse de Miss Plumcake (1911), La Bonne à tout faire (1911), LaMoche (1912), and La Folle de Penmarch (1912) and Georges Monca's Les Timidités deRigadin (1910), Agence Alice ou la sécurité des ménages (1910), La Cabotine (1911), Le Coup de foudre (1912), Bal costumé (1912), La Vocation de Lolo (1912), Une bougie recalcitrante (1912), and La Valse renversante (1914). Other silent films she appeared in include André Hugon's La Chignon d'or (1914), Sous la menace (1916), Fleur de Paris (1916), Mistinguette détective (1917), and Mistinguette détective II (1917) and Henri Diamant-Berger's Une soirée mondaine (1917). Mistinguett was known for her legs and her stage routines, and several of the films in which she appeared featured both.
   Mistinguett more or less disappeared from the screen from 1917 until 1928, when she had a small role in Berthe Dagmar and Jean Durand's Ile d'amour (1928). She had only two roles in speaking films. She appeared in Christian-Jacque's Rigolboche (1936) and the Italian film Carosello del varietà (1955), her final film. Mistinguett was nearly as famous for her love life as she was for her performance career. She was reputed to have been the mistress of the king of Spain and Prince Edward, the future Edward VII of England. She was also the longtime companion of the much younger Maurice Chevalier, her costar at the Folies-Bergères. She remains a legend of the French music-hall and the silent screen.
   Historical Dictionary of French Cinema by Dayna Oscherwitz & Mary Ellen Higgins

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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