Born in China to Russian parents, Ivan Desny spent his formative years in Paris. It was Desny's bad luck to be there when the Nazis marched in, and he spent the war in a German labor camp along with thousands of other Russian expatriates. After the war, Desny drifted into French films, first as an extra, then as a leading man. Essentially a European actor, Desny has appeared in scattered American films, notably Anastasia (1956), Song Without End (1960) and Disney's Bon Voyage (1962). Though his film career spans four decades, Ivan Desny is most fondly remembered by English fans for his 1950 portrayal of blackmailing social climber Emile l'Angelier in director David Lean's Madeleine.