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‘Devil in the Flesh’ Actress Was 101 – The Hollywood Reporter read full article at

Micheline Presle, the standout French actress who starred in the controversial Devil in the Flesh before making a foray into Hollywood that included roles opposite John Garfield, Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn and Paul Newman, has died. She was 101.

Presle died Wedneday in the Paris suburb of Nogent-sur-Marne, her son-in-law Olivier Bomsel told Le Figaro.

Presle came to international attention when she portrayed a nurse having an affair with a student (Gérard Philipe) in the World War I drama Devil in the Flesh (1947), which the National Board of Review voted as one of the 10 best films of the year.

Because it featured a woman who took a lover while her husband was away at war, it generated a great deal of discussion.

In 1949, Presle met American actor William Marshall, who had been married to another French star, Michèle Morgan, and followed him to America. They would wed that year in Santa Barbara.

She was signed by 20th Century Fox, which changed her surname to Prelle and cast her as a café owner who falls in love with a crooked jockey (Garfield) in Jean Negulesco’s Under My Skin (1950), based on an Ernest Hemingway short story.

Micheline Presle with John Garfield in 1950’s ‘Under My Skin’

20th Century Fox Film Corp./Courtesy Everett Collection

She starred with Power in the Technicolor war film American Guerilla in the Philippines (1950), directed by Fritz Lang, then was loaned out to Republic Pictures to work with Flynn in The Adventures of Captain Fabian (1951). Marshall directed that film, which was shot in France from a screenplay written by Flynn.

But as these features failed to generate much heat, she and Marshall divorced in 1954, and she returned to France.

The daughter of an investment banker, Presle was born Micheline Nicole Julia Émilienne Chassagne in Paris on Aug. 22, 1922.

After a few minor roles, she scored a breakthrough with her turn as the leader of a group of girls who are distressed by their parents’ divorces in G.W. Pabst’s Young Girls in Trouble (1939). Going forward, she would adopt the surname of the character she played, Jacqueline Presle, as her stage name.

In Abel Gance’s Paradise Lost (1940), she portrayed both a mother and her daughter.

Micheline Presle with Gérard Philipe in 1947’s ‘Devil in the Flesh’

Courtesy Everett Collection

After her less-than-successful stay in the U.S., Presle started a comeback with a central role in the English-language murder mystery Chance Meeting (1959), directed by Joseph Losey.

She would return to Hollywood to portray a former French showgirl and mother of Sandra Dee’s character in the romantic comedy If a Man Answers (1962), which also starred Dee’s then-husband, Bobby Darin.

And in 1963, she played a scientist alongside Newman in the spy drama The Prize (1963), set against the backdrop of a Nobel Prize ceremony.

From 1965-71, she starred on the French comedy series Les Saintes Chéries.

Her big-screen résumé also included Male Hunt (1964), The Legend of Frenchie King (1971), Samuel Fuller’s Thieves After Dark (1984) and Alain Resnais’ I Want to Go Home (1989), for which she received a César nomination.

She was presented with an honorary César in 2004.

Her daughter, director Tonie Marshall, who won a history-making César for Venus Beauty Institute, died in 2020 at age 68.

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