Simone Simon, 93; French Star of ‘Cat People’ Horror Films

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Simone Simon, 93, a French actress best known to American film audiences for her roles in the 1942 horror film “Cat People” and the 1944 sequel “Curse of the Cat People,” died Tuesday in Paris.

Born in Bethune, France, Simon grew up in Marseilles and Paris and attended schools in Berlin, Budapest and Turin. Her sensual good looks brought her work as a fashion model.

She made her screen debut in 1931 in “Le Chanteur Inconnu,” which helped establish her as a favorite pin-up in France. Her best-known French film is Jean Renoir’s “La Bete Humaine.”


After a dozen successful French films, Darryl F. Zanuck, the head of 20th Century Fox, brought her to Hollywood in the late 1930s. She had trouble mastering English and failed to connect with American audiences.

She became embroiled in a legal squabble while in Hollywood, accusing her secretary of forging checks. The secretary tried to defend herself by publicizing details of her relationships with such noted figures as composer George Gershwin.

She lived in Europe after the war and continued her film career into the early 1970s.