Oscar Actors: Signoret, Simone–Background, Career, Awards (Cum Advantage, Emmy, BAFTA, Cesar)

Research in Progress (May 22, 2021)

Simone Signoret Career Summary:

Simone Signoret
Simone signoret photo.jpg
Simone Henriette Charlotte Kaminker

Occupational Inheritance: No

Social Class: Upper-middle; father interpreter for League of Nations; army officer

Race/Ethnicity/Religion; father French-born Polish Jew; mother French Catholic

Family: she supported family as a secretary



Teacher/Inspirational Figure: Actor Daniel Gelin

Radio Debut:

TV Debut:

Stage Debut:

Broadway Debut:

Film Debut: 1942; age 21

Breakthrough Role: La Ronde, 1950; aged 29

Oscar Role: Room at the Top, 1959; aged 38

Other Noms: 2, Room at the Top; Ship of Fools (including 1 Oscar)

Other Awards: Cesars, BAFTA

Frequent Collaborator:

Screen Image: sensual as young woman

Last Film:

Career Output:

Film Career Span: 1942-1984; 42 years

Marriage: 2, director; then actor-singer Yves Montand

Politics: Liberal

Death: 64; pancreatic cancer


Simone Signoret (French: March 25, 1921–September 30, 1985) was a German-born French cinema actress, hailed as one of France’s greatest film stars.

Signoret became the second French person to win the Oscar Award, for her role in Room at the Top (1959).

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In her lifetime, she also received two Césars, three BAFTAs, an Emmy, a Cannes Film Festival Award, the Silver Bear for Best Actress awards, an NBR Award and a Golden Globe nomination.

Signoret was born Simone Henriette Charlotte Kaminker in Wiesbaden, Germany, to André and Georgette (née Signoret) Kaminker, as the eldest of three children, with two younger brothers.

Her father, a pioneering interpreter who worked in the League of Nations, was a French-born army officer from a Polish Jewish family, who brought the family to Neuilly-sur-Seine on the outskirts of Paris. Her mother, Georgette, from whom she acquired her stage name, was a French Catholic.

Signoret grew up in Paris in an intellectual atmosphere and studied English, German and Latin.

After completing secondary school during the Nazi occupation, Simone was responsible for supporting her family. She was forced to take work as a typist for a French collaborationist newspaper, Les nouveaux temps, run by Jean Luchaire.

During the occupation, Signoret mixed with artistic group of writers and actors who met at the Café de Flore in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter.

When she developed an interest in acting, she was encouraged by friends, including her lover, Daniel Gélin, to follow her ambition.

In 1942, she began appearing in bit parts and was able to earn enough money to support her mother and two brothers. Her father, who was a French patriot, had fled the country in 1940 to join General De Gaulle in England. She took her mother’s maiden name for the screen to help hide her Jewish roots.

Typecast as Prostitute

Signoret’s sensual features and earthy nature led to typecasting–she was often seen in roles as a prostitute. She won considerable attention in La Ronde (1950), a film which was banned briefly in New York as immoral.

She won further acclaim, including acting award from the British Film Academy, for her portrayal of another prostitute in Jacques Becker’s Casque d’or (1951).

She appeared in many French films during the 1950s, including Thérèse Raquin (1953), directed by Marcel Carné; Les Diaboliques (1954) by Clouzot; and The Crucible (Les Sorcières de Salem; 1956), based on Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.

Diabolique: One of scariest movies I’ve ever seen

Room at the Top

In 1958, Signoret acted in the English independent film, Room at the Top (1959), which won her numerous awards, including Best Female Performance Prize at Cannes and the Oscar for Best Actress. It took another 40 years for another French actress receive an Oscar: Juliette Binoche (Supporting Actress, 1997) and Marion Cotillard (Best Actress, 2008).

She was offered films in Hollywood, but turned them down for several years, continuing to work in France and England–opposite Laurence Olivier in Term of Trial (1962).

She earned a further Oscar nomination for Ship of Fools (1965), and appeared in a few other Hollywood films before returning to France in 1969.

In 1962, Signoret translated Lillian Hellman’s play The Little Foxes into French for a production in Paris that ran for six months at the Theatre Sarah-Bernhardt. She played the Regina role as well. Hellman was displeased, although the translation was approved by scholars selected by Hellman.

Signoret’s attempt at Shakespeare, performing Lady Macbeth opposite Alec Guinness at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 1966, proved to be ill-advised.

Signoret was never concerned with glamour, ignored sexist and ageist insults and continued giving finely etched performances.

She won acclaim for her portrayal of a weary madam in Madame Rosa (1977) and as an unmarried sister who unknowingly falls in love with her paralyzed brother via anonymous correspondence in I Sent a Letter to My Love (1980).

She continued to appear in many movies before her death in 1985.

Signoret’s memoirs, Nostalgia Isn’t What It Used To Be, were published in 1978.

She also wrote a novel, Adieu Volodya, published in 1985, the year of her death.

Signoret first marriage was to filmmaker Yves Allégret (1944–49), with whom she had a daughter, Catherine Allégret, an actress.

Her second marriage was to the Italian-born French actor Yves Montand in 1951, a union which lasted until her death; the couple had no children.

Signoret died of pancreatic cancer in Autheuil-Authouillet, France, aged 64.

She was buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris; Yves Montand was later buried next to her.


1942 Bolero Une employée de la maison de couture Uncredited
Prince Charming Extra Uncredited
Les Visiteurs du Soir Extra Uncredited
The Benefactor La sécrétaire du journal Uncredited

1943 Le voyageur de la Toussaint Extra Uncredited
Goodbye Leonard La gitane Uncredited

1944 The Angel of the Night Une étudiante Uncredited
Behold Beatrice Liliane Moraccini
Service de nuit La danseuse à la taverne Uncredited
Le mort ne reçoit plus [fr] La maitresse de Firmin

1945 La Boîte aux rêves [fr] Une femme Uncredited

1946 Les Démons de l’aube [fr] Lily, la cabaretière
The Ideal Couple Annette
Back Streets of Paris Gisèle

1947 Fantômas Hélène

1948 Against the Wind Michele Dennis
Dédée d’Anvers Dédée
Dilemma of Two Angels Marianne

1950 Manèges Dora
Swiss Tour Yvonne
La Ronde Leocadie, the Prostitute
Gunman in the Streets Denise Vernon (also released as Le Traqué)

1951 …Sans laisser d’adresse Une journaliste Uncredited
Shadow and Light Isabelle Leritz

1952 Casque d’or Marie ‘Casque d’Or’ BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress
1953 Thérèse Raquin Thérèse Raquin
1955 Les Diaboliques Nicole Horner
Mother Courage and Her Children Yvette, Lagerhure (unfinished)
1956 Death in the Garden Djin
1957 The Crucible Elisabeth Procter BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress
Karlovy Vary Film Festival Award for Best Actress

1959 Room at the Top, Alice Aisgill
Academy Award for Best Actress
BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress
Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress
Jussi Award for Best Foreign Actress
Laurel Award for Top Female Dramatic Performance (3rd place)
National Board of Review Award for Best Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress (2nd place)
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama

1960 General Electric Theater Woman Episode: Don’t You Remember?
Adua and Friends Adua Giovannetti (also released as Hungry for Love)

1961 Les Mauvais Coups Roberte
Famous Love Affairs Jenny (segment “Jenny de Lacour”)

1962 Term of Trial Anna

1963 The Shortest Day
The Day and the Hour Therese Dutheil
Sweet and Sour Madame Geneviève

1965 Ship of Fools La Contessa
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress–Drama
The Sleeping Car Murders Eliane Darès

1966 Is Paris Burning? La patronne du bistrot / Cafe Owner
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Sara Lescault Episode: A Small Rebellion
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Drama

1967 The Deadly Affair, Elsa Fennan Nominated, BAFTA, Best Foreign Actress
Games, Lisa Schindler, Nominated–BAFTA Award, Best Actress in Supporting Role
1968 Mr. Freedom Cameo Uncredited
The Sea Gull Arkadina, an actress
1969 Army of Shadows Mathilde
L’Américain [fr] Léone
1970 The Confession Mme L.
Lise London
A Hostage Meg TV movie
1971 Comptes à rebours [fr] Léa
Le Chat Clémence Bouin Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 21st Berlin International Film Festival
La Veuve Couderc [fr] Veuve Couderc Tati

1973 The Burned Barns Rose
Rude journée pour la reine [fr] Jeanne

1975 La Chair de l’orchidée Lady Vamos

1976 Police Python 357 Thérèse Ganay

1977 Madame Rosa Madame Rosa, César Award for Best Actress
David di Donatello Award for Best Actress (tied with Jane Fonda for Julia)

1978 Madame le juge [fr] Elisabeth Massot TV Series, 6 episodes
Judith Therpauve Judith Therpauve

1979 The Adolescent, Mamie

1980 I Sent a Letter to My Love, Louise Martin

1982 L’étoile du nord Mme Louise Baron Nominated — César Award for Best Actress
Guy de Maupassant [fr] Maupassant’s mother

1983 Thérèse Humbert Thérèse Humbert

Television award
Emmy Awards

1966: Won Emmy Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Drama for: Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre (1963) for episode A Small Rebellion

Popular culture
Marilyn (2011) by Sue Glover, premiered at the Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow on 17 February 2011. The play charted the deteriorating relationship between Signoret and Marilyn Monroe during the filming of Let’s Make Love; Monroe had an affair with Signoret’s husband, Yves Montand.

Singer Nina Simone (Born Eunice Waymon) took her last name from Simone Signoret.