Annabella (14 July 1907 ￢ﾀﾓ 18 September 1996) was a French
cinema actress who appeared in 46 films between 1927 and 1952, including some
Hollywood films during the late 1930s and 1940s.
Born Suzanne Georgette Charpentier in La Varenne Saint
Hilaire, Val-de-Marne, France. Annabella's chance to enter films came when her
father entertained a film producer who gave her a small part in Napolￃﾩon in
1927. It was not until she starred in Le Million that she was acclaimed and
over the following decade established herself as one of France's most popular
cinema actresses. In 1936 she won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice
Film Festival for Veille d'armes (1935).
She was cast as the female lead in the British-made film
Wings of the Morning (1937) opposite Henry Fonda. Under contract to 20th
Century Fox, she traveled to America and appeared in Suez (1938) with Loretta
Young and Tyrone Power. Her romance with Power was widely reported by movie
magazines of the day. Darryl Zanuck, movie mogul at 20th Century-Fox, did not
want his matinee idol married. He offered Annabella a multi-movie deal that
would take her overseas. She refused to leave Power, and on completion of Suez,
she returned to France to obtain a divorce from her then-husband, Jean Murat.
She and Power married on 23 April 1939. The two honeymooned in Rome. Within a
few months, Annabella and Power had again flown to Europe to bring Annabella's
mother back to live in their home, while her father and brother remained
behind. Her brother was ultimately shot and killed by the Nazis. Annabella made
a return trip to bring her daughter, Anne, back from France to live with them.
Power adopted Anne before leaving for the service. Anne Power later married
actor Oskar Werner.
Darryl F. Zanuck, angry with her for marrying his top box
office star did not cast her in movies despite Annabella￢ﾀﾙs contract with 20th
Century-Fox. Neither was she loaned out to other studios. She and Power
appeared together in the play Liliom in New Haven, Connecticut. While Power was
away at war, Annabella appeared in Blithe Spirit in Chicago. On Broadway, she
received excellent notices for her work in Jacobowsky and the Colonel, directed
by Elia Kazan, in 1944. Annabella also embarked on an affair with author Roald
Dahl; she had refused to give Power a divorce to marry Judy Garland, and her
marriage was strained. When Power returned from the war, the couple decided to try
to make their marriage work once again. Annabella again worked in films,
playing the female lead in 13 Rue Madeleine (1947) opposite James Cagney. She
and Power divorced in 1948, and Annabella returned to France. In 1952 she made
her final film, and retired after a 1954 TV appearance.
Annabella and Tyrone Power remained very close, and after
his divorce from Linda Christian, he attempted to reconcile with her,
confessing that in giving her up, he had made a terrible mistake. However,
Annabella refused. Power informed her that he would not take the elevator to
leave her apartment, but the stairs, in case she changed her mind and called
him back. She did not.
Annabella died from a heart attack at Neuilly-sur-Seine,
France, aged 89, and was interred in Passy Cemetery.