Nuyen in 2002
France Nguyen Van-Nga
31 July 1939
|Occupation||Actress, model, psychological counselor|
Dr. Thomas Gaspar Morell
(m. 1963; div. 1966)
(m. 1967; div. 1970)
Nuyen was born in Marseilles, France. Her mother was French, her father Vietnamese. During World War II, her mother and grandfather were persecuted by the Nazis for being Roma. Nuyen was raised in Marseille by a cousin she calls "an Orchidaceae raiser who was the only person who gave a damn about me". Having left school at the age of 11, she began studying art and became an artist's model.
In 1955, while working as a seamstress, Nuyen was discovered on the beach by Life photographer Philippe Halsman. She was featured on the cover of 6 October 1958 issue of Life.
She became a motion picture actress in 1958. In her first role, she played Liat, daughter of Bloody Mary (played by Juanita Hall) in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific. Later that year, she was cast in the lead role of the Broadway play The World of Suzie Wong, opposite William Shatner. She originally was cast to star in the film adaptation of The World of Suzie Wong, but was replaced by Nancy Kwan. She worked with William Shatner again in a third-season episode of Star Trek, playing the title character Elaan of Troyius (1968), and in an episode of Kung Fu (1974).
Nuyen appeared in films including The Last Time I Saw Archie (1961) Satan Never Sleeps (1962), A Girl Named Tamiko (1962), Diamond Head (1963), Dimension 5 (1966), Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) and The Joy Luck Club (1993).
In 1978, she guest-starred with Peter Falk and Louis Jourdan in the Columbo episode "Murder Under Glass". In 1986, she joined the cast of St. Elsewhere as Dr. Paulette Kiem, remaining until the series ended in 1988. Her last known credit is for the romantic drama The American Standards (2008).
From 1963 to 1966, Nuyen was married to Dr. Thomas Gaspar Morell, a psychiatrist, by whom she has a daughter, Fleur, who resides in Canada and works as a film make-up artist. She met her second husband, Robert Culp, while appearing in four episodes of his television series I Spy. They married in 1967, but divorced three years later. There were on off relationships - most notably an affair with Marlon Brando in 1960.
In 1986, Nuyen earned a master's degree in clinical psychology and began a second career as a counselor for abused women and children, and women in prison. She received a Woman of the Year award in 1989 for her psychology work. In the Life cover story on Nuyen, she is quoted as saying a proverb she also repeated in character as a spy in the I Spy episode "Magic Mirror": "I am Chinese. I am a stone. I go where I am kicked."
- South Pacific (1958) - Liat
- In Love and War (1958) - Kalai Ducanne
- The Last Time I Saw Archie (1961) - Cindy Hamilton
- Satan Never Sleeps (1962) - Siu Lan
- A Girl Named Tamiko (1962) - Tamiko
- Diamond Head (1962) - Mai Chen
- Marco Polo (1962)
- Man in the Middle (1964) - Kate Davray
- Dimension 5 (1966) - Kitty
- Black Water Gold (1970, TV Movie) - Thais
- One More Train to Rob (1971) - Ah Toy
- Slingshot (1971)
- The Horror at 37,000 Feet (1973, TV Movie) - Annalik
- The Big Game (1973) - Atanga
- Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) - Alma
- Code Name: Diamond Head (1977, TV Movie) - Tso-Tsing
- China Cry (1990) - Mrs. Sung
- The Joy Luck Club (1993) - Ying-Ying - The Mother
- A Passion to Kill (1994) - Lou Mazaud
- Angry Cafe (1995) - Rosie
- The Magic Pearl (1997) - (voice)
- A Smile Like Yours (1997) - Dr. Chin
- The Battle of Shaker Heights (2003) - Xiou-Xiou Ling
- The American Standards (2008) - Dr. Pierce
- Hong Kong - episode "Clear for Action" (1960)
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E. - episode "The Cherry Blossom Affair" (1965)
- Gunsmoke - episode "Gunfighter, R.I.P." (1966)
- Gunsmoke - episode "Honor Before Justice" (1966) - as Sarah
- I Spy - four episodes (1966-1967)
- Star Trek: The Original Series - episode "Elaan of Troyius" (1968)
- Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In (1968)
- Medical Center - episode "The Battle of Lili Wu" (1969)
- Hawaii Five-O - episode "Highest Castle, Deepest Grave" (1971)
- Kung Fu - episode "A Small Beheading" (1974)
- The Six Million Dollar Man - episode "The Coward" (1974)
- Hawaii Five-O - episode "Small Witness, Large Crime" (S7 EP 17, 1975)
- Code Name: Diamond Head (1977)
- Charlie's Angels - episode "Angels in Paradise" (1977)
- Columbo - episode "Murder Under Glass" (1978)
- Fantasy Island - "Return to Fantasy Island" (1978)
- Automan - episode "Ships in the Night" (1984)
- Magnum, P.I. - episode "Torah, Torah, Torah" (1985)
- Murder, She Wrote - episode "A Death in Hong Kong" (1993)
- St. Elsewhere (1986-1988) as Dr. Paulette Kiem.
- The Outer Limits - episode "Ripper" (1999)
- "Tom Clancy's Op-Center" - Li Tang (1995)
- Knots Landing (1990) as a doctor
- Philly.com "An Actress' Brutal Beginnings Once She Was A Battered Child Now She's Trained To Treat Them", 16 August 1987. Accessed 5 February 2016
- Hollywood.com - France Nuyen. Accessed 5 February 2016
- The World of Suzie Wong#Film, TV and theatrical adaptations
- http://www.hollywood.com/celebrities/france-nuyen-57294215/. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
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