Madeleine Lebeau

Marie Madeleine Berthe Lebeau (10 June 1923 – 1 May 2016) was a French film actress.

Madeleine Lebeau
Marie Madeleine Berthe Lebeau

(1923-06-10)10 June 1923
Antony, France[1]
Died1 May 2016(2016-05-01) (aged 92)
Estepona, Spain
Years active1939–1970
Notable work

Early life

Lebeau married actor Marcel Dalio in 1939; it was his second marriage. They had met while performing a play together. She had already appeared in her first film, an uncredited role as a student in the melodrama Young Girls in Trouble (Jeunes filles en détresse, 1939).[1] In June 1940, Lebeau and Dalio (who was Jewish) fled Paris ahead of the invading German Army and reached Lisbon. They are presumed to have received transit visas from Aristides de Sousa Mendes, allowing them to enter Spain and journey on to Portugal. It took them two months to obtain visas to Chile.[2]

However, when their ship, the S.S. Quanza, stopped in Mexico, they were stranded, along with around 200 other passengers, when the Chilean visas they had purchased turned out to be forgeries. Eventually, they were able to get temporary Canadian passports and entered the United States.[2] Lebeau made her Hollywood debut in Hold Back the Dawn (1941), which featured Charles Boyer and Olivia de Havilland in the leading roles. The following year, she appeared in the Errol Flynn movie Gentleman Jim, a biography of Irish-American boxer James J. Corbett.[3]

Lebeau learned English during a seven-week stay with Dalio on a Portuguese freighter that was seeking a port for landing.[4]


Later that year she was cast in the role of Yvonne, Humphrey Bogart's character's discarded mistress, in Casablanca. Warner Bros. signed her to a $100-a-week contract for twenty-six weeks to be in a number of films. On 22 June, while she was filming her scenes in Casablanca, her husband, Marcel Dalio, who played Emil the croupier in the same film, filed for divorce in Los Angeles on the grounds of desertion. They divorced in 1942. Shortly before the release of the film, Warner Bros. terminated her contract. After Joy Page died in April 2008, Lebeau was the last surviving credited cast member of Casablanca.[5]

She told Charlotte Chandler, author of a biography of female lead Ingrid Bergman, in the 1990s: "It wasn't that I was cut out, it was because they kept changing the script, and each time they changed it, I had less of a part". "It was not personal, but I was so disappointed".[1]

Lebeau's best moments in Casablanca are during the scene when French nationals sing "The Marseillaise" drowning out the group of German soldiers singing "Die Wacht am Rhein". The camera captures the (genuine) tears on her face, and later at the end of the anthem when she cries out Vive la France. France had fallen to Nazi forces, and many of the actors performing in the scene were real-life refugees from Europe.[2]

After Casablanca

Following Casablanca, Lebeau appeared in two further American films. The first was a large role in the war drama Paris After Dark (1943), with her former husband. The following year, Lebeau had a smaller role in Music for Millions. She appeared on Broadway in the play The French Touch in a production directed by René Clair.[1] After the end of World War II, Lebeau returned to France and continued her acting career. She appeared in Les Chouans (The Royalists, 1947) and worked in Great Britain, appearing in a film with Jean Simmons, Cage of Gold (1950).[5]

Later years

She would appear in 20 more films, mainly French, including La Parisienne (1957), with Brigitte Bardot as the star, as well as in Federico Fellini's (1963). Lebeau's last two films were Spanish productions in 1965.[5]

In 1988, she married, thirdly, to Italian screenwriter Tullio Pinelli who had contributed to the script of .[3]


Lebeau died on 1 May 2016 in Estepona, Spain, aged 92, after breaking her thigh bone.[3] French culture minister Audrey Azoulay said of Madelaine Lebeau after her death: "She was a free woman who lived by her own rules, totally inhabiting the roles entrusted to her by leading director. She will forever be the face of French resistance."[1]


Year Title Role Notes
1939Jeunes filles en détresse (Girls in Distress)Une élève de la pensionUncredited
1941Hold Back the DawnAnni
1942Gentleman JimAnna Held
1943Paris After DarkCollette
1944Music for MillionsJane
1947The RoyalistsMarie de Verneuil
1948Le secret de Monte-Cristo (The Secret of Monte-Cristo)Marguerite Vigouroux
1950Cage of GoldMarie
1950Et moi j'te dis qu'elle t'a fait d'l'oeil!Aurélie Lambrusque
1951Sins of MadeleineMalou
1951Paris Still SingsGisèle
1952Fortuné de MarseilleTonia
1953L'étrange amazoneEliane
1953Mandat d'amenerFrançoise Delanglade
1953Légère et court vêtue (Lightly and Shortly Dressed)Jacqueline Lorette / Kiki
1953L'aventurière du Tchad (The Adventurer of Chad)Fanny Lacour
1954Si Versailles m'était conté (Royal Affairs in Versailles)Une dame de la courUncredited
1954Quai des blondesNelly
1954Cadet RousselleMarguerite de Beaufort
1955NapoléonEmilie Pellapra
1955La pícara molineraJacqueline
1956Le pays d'où je viens (The Country I Come From)Adrienne Terreau
1957La ParisienneMonique Wilson
1958La Vie à deux (Life for Two)Peggy
1959Vous n'avez rien à déclarer?Gloria Frontignac
1959Le chemin des écoliers (Way of Youth)Flora
1963Madeleine, the French actress
1964Desafío en Río Bravo (Gunmen of the Rio Grande)Jennie Lee
1964Angélique, Marquise des AngesLa Grande Demoiselle
1965La vuelta
1967La bouquetière des innocentsMarie de MédicisTV movie


  1. Grimes, William (16 May 2016). "Madeleine Lebeau, 'Casablanca' Actress, Dies at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  2. D'Emilio, Frances; Bahr, Lindsey. "Madeleine LeBeau: French actress had big moment in Casablanca". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  3. Barnes, Mike (14 May 2016). "Madeleine Lebeau, Rick's Discarded Lover in 'Casablanca', Dies at 92". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  4. Carroll, Harrison (March 29, 1941). "Behind the Scenes in Hollywood". The Call-Leader. Indiana, Elwood. p. 2. Retrieved February 2, 2018 via
  5. "Last surviving Casablanca actress Madeleine Lebeau dies". BBC News. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
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