Born in Germany to French parents, Simone Signoret was raised in Paris. While working with the Free French patriotic organization during WWII, she entered films as an extra in British wartime productions. Through the auspices of her first husband, director Yves Allegret, Signoret was given the "star build-up" in the postwar years. One of the best of her unlucky-in-love characterizations was in Casque D'Or (1952), for which she won a British Film Industry award. Signoret went on to win an Oscar for her portrayal of Laurence Harvey's tragic castaway mistress in Room at the Top (1959). Her second husband was Yves Montand. Maturing into a plump but still bewitching character actress, Signoret continued appearing in choice film roles until 1982. Simone Signoret was the author of several books, foremost among them the witty, melancholy autobiography Nostalgia Isn't What It Used to Be.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Began her acting career as a movie extra in order to help support her family, after her Jewish father was forced to flee Nazi-occupied France.
- Changed her last name to avoid persecution for her Jewish heritage during WWII.
- Publicly criticized the executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953.
- Was the first French person to win an Academy Award.
- Published an autobiography in 1978, entitled Nostalgia Isn't What It Used to Be; also published a novel, Adieu Volodia, in 1985.