They are classic Hollywood’s bad girls — eg., Barbara Payton, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Linda Christian are tops in this category (we’ve written about all three) — and we love ’em. In honor of the surprisingly large number readers we log daily in France, we’ve decided to add a French touch to our bad girl gallery.
Who better than Corinne Calvet?
Born in Paris in Paris in 1925, she got into movies there just after the conclusion of the German occupation and the liberation of the City of Light. She got off to a good start, playing supporting roles in a Jean-Louis Barrault movie (Le part de l’ombre) and in a comedy, Petrus, starring the noted comedian Fernandel.
Her take-no-prisoners good looks (reminding Frank of a Gallic Rhonda Fleming) caught the attention of producer Hal Wallis, who brought her to Hollywood to costar in William Dieterle’s 1949 adventure drama, Rope of Sand with Burt Lancaster (pictured above with Corinne), Claude Rains and Peter Lorre.
Calvet later claimed Wallis was among the many studio executives who made serious advances towards her. She said in this case Wallis was rebuffed, and took revenge by firing her husband, B-actor John Bromfield (whom she had married in 1948), and casting her in the latest Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedy outing.
(Why not check out the unintentionally hilarious clip of Calvet and Martin sharing an inane song number on You Tube? Both look terrific but are wildly mismatched; one could sing the the other could not or at least not terribly well.)
Calvet had better luck after she moved to 20th Century Fox where she made On The Riviera, third-billed behind Danny Kaye and Gene Tierney. Also in the cast was her pal, Marcel Dalio, the marvelous French actor who is probably best known for portraying the genial crouper at Rick’s in Casablanca. And she made two movies at Fox directed by John Ford (1950’s When Willie Comes Marching Home and 1952’s What Price Glory).
Calvet and Zsa Zsa Gabor, by the way, had a serious run-in. The latter claimed out loud that the former was an imposter, that she wasn’t really French and her pronounced accent was the result of studio coaching. An outaged Calvet howled, and threatened to launch a defamation lawsuit. Somehow the matter got quietly resolved.
At Universal, Corinne costarred with James Stewart and Ruth Roman in the 1954 western, The Far Country. Typically she turned up in movies with foreign angles such as So This Is Paris, a musical comedy with Tony Curtis. In 1953, she made Flight To Tangier costarring Joan Fontaine and Jack Palance. In her memoir Fontaine dismissed the movie with a crisp “it got no better than it deserved,” which wasn’t much, apparently.
Calvet wrote her own memoir in 1983, claiming that she never got the roles she deserved in Hollywood. She’s probably right. Her career covers just 46 movie and tv titles, and Calvet from the Fifties on did a ton of tv (she was a regular on General Hospital in the Sixties).
After Calvet retired from acting in the Seventies, she became a hypnotist in Santa Monica. She died there in 2001 at age 76. She had married four times and told of forced sexual encounters, drugs and other juicy activities Hollywood that she may or may not have participated in willingly.
Her memoir is titled, Has Corinne Been A Good Girl? We are delighted to provide an answer: no.