The famous French film star of 1942 classic Casablanca, who fled Nazis occupation along with her husband Marcel Dalio, has passed away at the age of 92. The movie was set in the occupied Morocco and left a mark on the early cinema’s history due to its amazing cast, gripping plot and of course the Second World War.
Madeleine Lebeau was the last surviving cast of Casablanca and perhaps one of the most iconic figures from the classic. Her beautiful face stained with tears in the foreground of La Marsellaise, gripped the Europe in the wake of the most painful period of the modern history and became the hallmark of resistance and resilience in the war.
LeBeaur died in Spain on May 1, when a broken thigh bone treatment met with complications due to her age and other medical conditions. Her step-son Carlo Alberto Pinelli, who is also a filmmaker, told the reporters of Lebeau’s final moments in Spain’s hospital.
LeBeau was a born Parisian, anticipating the eminent Nazi occupation of the city she fled France with her husband literally days prior to Nazis marched into the city of fragrances.
The Oscar-winning movie had a profound connection with Lebeau’s personal life. The plot of the movie brought back the haunting memories of Nazi occupation, and Lebeau did justice to her role by drawing on her own times spent under Nazis, and also the escape from the occupied lands with her husband Dalio. Lebeau played the scorned and bitter lover of Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine, while her husband Dalio played casino croupier Emil in Casablanca.
Lebeau played the character Yvonne, who when cast aside by her lover a renowned nightclub owner, she takes her revenge in the bitterest way possible. Yvonne starts an affair with a Nazi soldier who is part of the forces occupying Morocco. Drenched in anger she overlooks all the absurdities of the relationship, however when she hears the rousing chorus sequence of La Marseillaise emotionally sung by defiant drinkers in the bar, she repents her perversion with the enemy with tears rolling down her cheeks, and joins the song.
The couple feared for their lives, after Nazi propagandists used Dalio’s image on the posters headlining ‘how to spot Jewish features’. Lebeau and Dalio managed to reach California and thanks in part to Dalio’s friends in Hollywood Lebeau landed a job with Warner Brother’s studio. Lebeau first assignment with Warner Brothers was in the movie ‘Hold Back the Dawn’ in 1941 followed by ‘Gentleman Jim’ a year later.
The classic movie Casablanca gave the couple the recognition they enjoyed ever after, however the marriage broke down in the making of the movie. Dalio divorced Labeau citing desertion, which some observers thought was a result of the anxiety Labeau had to endure due to the plot of the movie; Warner Brothers ended the contract with Labeau soon after her divorce, but not before her tearful image become an icon of resistance and resilience for millions.