This August 22, Micheline Presle blows out her 100 candles, but don't count on the icon of the Golden Age of the 7th Art to look back! This nearly century-old girl has always lived in the moment!
When I see myself as a little girl, at ten years old, I find myself completely. I feel like - it's hard to say that I haven't changed (…) And I kind of enjoy that. I like this little girl, maybe because she stayed with me...', confided the actress to Serge Toubiana in the show A Naked Voice on France Culture in 2005.
Micheline Chassagne by her real name was born in the capital on August 22, 1922. His early years were marked by carelessness and a thirst for culture regularly quenched by his parents.
Thanks to her painter mother and her stockbroker father, Micheline plays comedy whenever the opportunity presents itself. inhabitant not far from the Jardin du Luxembourg , she often goes to the cinema or the music hall with her father and has the privilege of attending one of the first performances of Josephine Baker in Paris.
In the summer the family settles on the Normandy coast, in Calvados, where the future actress is already performing.
'It was comedy that interested me. When we were on vacation in Blonville, the bathing cabins were changed into theatres, we made seats out of sand, we sold seats with shells, we put the bathrobes as curtains in front of the cabin, and I kinda ran it all,' explained, still on France Culture in 2005, Micheline Presle who at the time found in her younger brother Claude, the ideal accomplice.
The divorce of his parents marks a first break which the child overcomes by immersing himself in books by Jules Verne, Rudyard Kipling, comics and books on mythology.
The girl's adolescence is more complicated. Dreamy and willingly refractory, she finds it difficult to comply with the iron discipline of the Catholic boarding school where she has been admitted and is regularly scolded by the nun at the head of the establishment.
'Chassagne,' she told me, 'if you keep going, you'll end up on the boards!' As if it were hell...I couldn't resist: 'But I hope so, mother!'' , she told L'Express in January 2017.
The young girl has, in fact, found her way: she will be an actress.
'I love to make people laugh. Not to get attention, but for the pleasure of having others with me, of being loved by laughter' , she always confided in l'Express adding that her father regularly told her: 'You will never be an actress!'.
In 1938, fate came knocking at his door. Christian Stengel set to direct a film with Charles Trenet. Convinced of her goddaughter's talent, Micheline's godfather decides to talk to the director about her, who agrees to give her a chance as an extra in the film Je Chante.
The girl is thrilled. 'It was wonderful, I went to the shoot every day outside of Paris...The perfect vacation' , she always explained in l'Express.
His career is launched.
She played her first real role in a film by Georg Pabst entitled Young Women in Distress most must find a pseudonym quickly because his father refuses to have his name associated with that of an acrobat. The young Micheline then had the idea of adopting the name of the character of André Luguet in the film and became Micheline Presle.
She then plays in Lost paradise by Abel Gance, a film which propels her to the rank of star under the Occupation .
'I lived through this period doing everything to forget the presence of the occupier. With my relatives, my friends, we lived in autarky' , explained the actress to L'Express .After taking refuge in Cannes, she returns to Paris because she has to work to meet her needs but also to support her mother and brother.
She plays in The Fantastic Night , by Marcel L'Herbier and Félicie Nanteuil, by Marc Allégret. The post-war period is a much lighter period: she becomes engaged to actor Louis Jourdan before breaking up and is given leading roles in Falbalas and Tallow Ball .
She married Michel Lefort in 1945 and imposed Gérard Philippe in the film The Devil in the Body . If their couple caused a scandal in the film, it marked the consecration for Micheline Presle that directors like Henri-Georges Clouzot or Max Ophuls fought for.
But a meeting upsets all his plans. She falls madly in love with Bill Marshall, Michele Morgan's companion , and wife in 1949.
Installed in the United States , the actress must momentarily put aside her French career and for 7 years plays roles for Fox which she describes as 'uninteresting'.
In the early 1950s, morale at half mast, the actress decided to return to France and gave birth to her daughter Tonie Marshall in Paris in 1951. She separates from Bill Marshall with whom relations have been strained for years and tries to remember the good memories of French directors. Not without difficulty! 'When I returned to France, she said, they no longer wanted me, and it never left as before,' she told the Express.
Tired of fighting, she decides to go back on the boards and flourishes there before finding the love of the public thanks to the television series The Holy Darlings . Between 1965 and 1970, she happily played Eve, Daniel Gélin's wife.
The 70s were complicated for the actress who experienced a depressive phase that she finally overcame thanks to her very positive nature.
Later, Gérard Jugnot but especially his daughter Tonie Marshall entrust him with nice roles.
Since the 2000s, the actress has been much more discreet. In 2007, she published Di(s)gressions, a book of interviews with the writer Stéphane Lambert about her career and advocated the decriminalization of euthanasia.
Now retired, Micheline Presle refuses to look back. If she had the pain of losing his only daughter Tonie Marshall last March , the soon-to-be-hundred-year-old actress shows great lucidity. 'I'm very happy to have experienced what I experienced but I'm not going to live on the nostalgia of it. I think it's a chance that I had' , she confided on France Culture in 2005.
At 98, she is part with the mother of Catherine Deneuve of the trio of French actresses with the longest career.
And the cinema in all this? Micheline Presle admits that she goes there less often than during her childhood simply because she knows it too well.
'The land is cleared, it's like traveling, it's like fleas, everything is marked out and what I like is to discover!', added, still on France Culture, this incorrigible adventurer!