Martine Carol (Maryse Louise Mourer)
Photos with Martine Carol
BiographySaint-Mandé, Val-de-Marne, France
France's major sex siren of the early 50s, this lesser-remembered post-war French pastry pre-dated bombshell Brigitte Bardot by a few years but her brief reign did not compare and has not lived up to the Bardot era. The cult mystique is not there even after dying mysteriously and relatively young. Martine was born Marie-Louise Mourer on May 16, 1920 (some references indicate 1922), but little is known of her childhood. A chance meeting with comedian Andre Luguet steered her toward a career in the theatre. Trained by Rene Simon, she made her 1940 stage debut with "Phedre" billed as Maryse Arley. Read more... subsequently caught the eye of Henri-Georges Clouzot who hired her for his film "The Cat," based on the novel by Colette, but the project was scrapped. Nevertheless, she did attract attention in the movie Wolf Farm (1943), which takes advantage of her photogenic beauty and ease in front of the camera despite a limited acting ability. A pin-up goddess and support actress throughout the 40s, Martine also appeared on the stage of the Theater of the Renaissance. A torrid affair with actor Georges Marchal, who was married to actress Dany Robin at the time, ended disastrously and she attempted suicide by taking an alcohol/drug overdose and throwing herself into the Seine River. She was saved by a taxi driver who accompanied her there. Ironically, the unhappy details surrounding her suicide attempt renewed the fascination audiences had with Martine up until that time. In 1950 she scored her first huge film success with the French Revolution epic Caroline Cherie (no doubt prompted by her semi-nude scenes and taunting, kittenish sexuality) and she was off and running at the box office. Her film romps were typically done tastefully with an erotic twinge of innocence and gentle sexuality plus an occasional bubble bath thrown in as male bait. She continued spectacularly with an array of costumed teasers such as Adorable Creatures (1952), Sins of the Borgias (1953), Madame du Barry (1954) and Nana (1954), all guided and directed by second husband Christian-Jacque, whom she married in 1954. A true feast for the eyes and one of the most beautiful actresses of her time, Martine later divorced the director due to professional conflicts and long separations. One last memorable part would come to her as the title role in Max Ophüls's Lola Montès (1955) portraying a circus performer who entrances all around her. By the mid 50s, Bardot had replaced Martine on the goddess pedestal and the voluptuous blonde's career went into a severe decline. Although such mature roles as Empress Josephine in The Battle of Austerlitz (1960) and others followed, nothing revived audience interest. Depressed, Martine turned alarmingly reclusive while a third marriage to French doctor Andre Rouveix also soured by 1962. Problems with substance abuse and a severe accident in the 60s also curtailed her career dramatically. Her last film Hell Is Empty was made in 1963 but not released until 1967. One last marriage to fourth husband Mike Eland, an English businessman and friend of first hubby Steve Crane, seemed hopeful, but on February 6, 1967, Martine died of cardiac arrest at age 46 in the bathroom of a hotel in Monacco Her husband discovered her. Newspapers hinted at a possible drug overdose but nothing was ever proven. She was buried in the cemetery of Cannes.