Women Stars in My Life: Arnoul, Francoise

Around 1958, I became intrigued by the sexy French actress, Francoise Arnoul.

Her movie, The Cat (La Chattes) was extremely popular in Israel, playing for weeks at the same movie house. I think I went to see it at least three times; the first time with my aunt, who was a high-ranking police officer.

The Cat

The Cat

Françoise Arnoul was born on June 3, 1932 as Françoise Annette Marie Mathilde Gautsch in Constantine, France (now Algeria).

She was the daughter of stage actress Janine Henry and artillery general Charles Gautsch, who also had two sons. While her father continued military service in Morocco, the rest of family moved to Paris in 1945.

After taking some drama lessons, she was noticed by director Willy Rozier, who offered her a major role in the film L’Épave (1949).

Arnoul then starred in such films as Henri Verneuil’s Forbidden Fruit (1952), Jean Renoir’s French Cancan (1954), Des gens sans importance (1956) with Jean Gabin, Henri Decoin’s La Chatte (1958), Le Chemin des écoliers (1959) with Bourvil, and Jean Cocteau’s Testament of Orpheus (1960).

She made her American film debut in Companions of the Night.

Later in life, she moved into TV, appearing in different TV movies and mini-series and also turning to character parts.

She published her autobiography, entitled Animal doué de Bonheur, in 1995.

In 1956, Arnoul was married to publicity agent Georges Cravenne whom she had met two years previously, but they separated in 1960.

In 1964, she became the companion of French director-scriptwriter Bernard Paul, a relationship which lasted until his death in 1980.