Oscar Winner Simone Signoret Defied Hollywood Ageism: 50 Years Ago

Despite not fitting the young ingenue stereotype, French actress Simone Signoret knocked them dead in Hollywood – and won an Academy Award

Simone Signoret

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Fifty years ago, the Post honored an unconventional actress, Simone Signoret.

At age 46 in 1967, Signoret didn’t fit the ideals of the classic Hollywood beauty. She had matured beyond her early, youthful roles in French cinema in the 1940s.

Signoret supported her entire family with her early film career. Her father, who was Jewish, had fled to England. If Nazi authorities had learned of her father’s heritage, she would likely have landed in a concentration camp instead of on the silver screen.

By 1944, she had worked her way up to the leading roles in several French films, but it was a long time before American filmmakers began casting her. By the mid-1960s, she was no longer the ingénue.  “I got old the way that women who aren’t actresses grow old,” she said. But she kept her remarkable talent.

Hollywood acknowledged her talent, giving her an Academy Award in 1959 for her performance in Room at the Top. That same year, the 38-year-old actress played a romantic lead in the film Ship of Fools, which earned her another Oscar nomination.

In an industry that often relegates mature actresses to bit parts or cameo performances, she managed to remain an accomplished, respected actress up to her last on-screen appearance — her 72nd — in 1986.

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Read this article from the February 25, 1967 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

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