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Rare Photos of Martine Carol, the French Marilyn Monroe

You probably already know who Marilyn Monroe is, but have you heard of her French counterpart?

Martine Carol was a French film actress and sex symbol who rose to fame in the 1950s. Born as Maryse Mourer in 1920 in Saint-Mandé, France, Carol started her career as a model before making her acting debut in 1949. She quickly gained recognition for her beauty and sensuality, and became one of the most popular actresses in France.

It seemed that she was unstoppable and her filmography is truly remarkable. She’s still highly regarded as one of the most iconic French actresses of all time.

Despite her success, Carol struggled with personal issues and faced criticism for her acting abilities. Much like another famous cinematic sex symbol…

Join FactsVerse to see some rare photos of Martine Carol, the French Marilyn Monroe…


Coming from a humble background, with her pharmacist father and housewife mother, it didn’t seem that Martine Carol would become a big star.

Yet, she certainly had big dreams and wanted to become an actress. She couldn’t have come at a better time as French cinema was going through a renaissance period.

She studied acting at a prestigious school in Paris and studied under René Simon, one of the most famous acting teachers of all time in France. She began her career on stage and acted in her first professional play in 1940.

She had one uncredited role in a 1941 film and another in 1942. She then had a small role in a 1943 film called “La ferme aux loups” but her first major role was in the 1945 film called “Bifur 3.”

This film got her more attention and the offers started coming in. Filmmakers took notice of her beautiful blonde looks which was just getting popular in cinema. It should be noted that at this time, Marilyn Monroe hadn’t even made her debut in American cinema.

She continued to get roles throughout the 1940s and her role in a 1948 film “Sextette” is what made her get more notice. She was now taken seriously as an actress – as she was able to hold her own in this popular ensemble film. The 1950s was the decade when French cinema was becoming popular all over the world and the French New Wave was becoming prominent.

Around this same time, Marilyn Monroe was becoming prominent in the United States and eventually in the world. Martine Carol was soon dubbed as the “French Marilyn Monroe.”

As far as her career is concerned, it couldn’t be better. She had a prolific career and she often had several films releasing each year. In fact, looking back at her career, in the early years, she only went one year without making a film – before she made her breakthrough. Later on, she’d have a 4-year gap before her last 2 films would be released.

But before we get into the challenges of her life, let’s look back at her incredible career…


A mention must be made of some of Martine Carol’s career achievements.

It should be noted that while she truly became a star in the 1950s, she did get lots of attention in the 1940s as well. It wasn’t long that she got noticed and her rise in cinema was almost meteoric.

Her films exploited her beauty and especially her blonde hair. She became a pin-up model as well as a popular actress during this time. Apart from Bifur 3 and Sextette, her popular films during the 1940s included The Queer Assignment, Voyage Surprise, I Like Only You, Miroir, and The Lovers of Verona.

Her popular films in the 1950s included Beware of Blondes, Darling Caroline, Love and Desire, Adorable Creatures, Beauties of the Night, A Caprice of Darling Caroline, Lucrece Borgia, The Beach, The Bed, Madame du Barry, Nana, Action of the Tiger, Nathalie, The Stowaway, Ten Seconds To Hell, and many more. A separate mention should be made about the film Lola Montes – in which she played the titular role. This film was directed by Max Ophüls who was enamored by her and felt that she had incredible talent.

Without a doubt, the 1950s was the best decade for her career. Her career continued in the 1960s but it also slowed down and her filmography wasn’t particularly dense during this decade.

She appeared in one segment in the 1960 film “Love and the Frenchwoman” and then followed this up with 3 films released in 1961.

Her final film was released after her death – and it was a British film called Hell Is Empty, released in 1967.

Overall, her filmography was solid. She did face some criticism from film reviewers who felt that she was famous more for her beauty rather than her talent. But these reviewers were largely in the minority and she is still remembered for her short but incredible career and many of her roles still inspire aspiring French actresses.

But behind the façade of a successful film career, was a dark life that was full of tragedy and what ultimately led to her demise….


Martine Carol had a successful career but this was juxtaposed from a tragic personal life marked by failed relationships and her poor health.

Martin Carole’s first marriage was with the French actor Andre Luguet. This marriage ended in divorce in 1953 after just three years. After only one year, she married the film producer Mike Eland, but that marriage also ended in divorce in 1959.

Her third marriage was to the French director Christian-Jaques. This marriage was reputed to be tumultuous and both of them were unfaithful to each other. They eventually divorced in 1962.

Oh, by the way, did we mention she was kidnapped?

Owing to her pin-up career and her sex symbol status, she naturally caught the eye of many men. Some of them, were dangerous men. One of her admirers was a French gangster who had the charming name of “Crazy Pete” – what could possibly go wrong?

He had her kidnapped in the 1940s and beat her up. Apparently, she had rejected him when the two had met at a nightclub and he sought revenge. He originally sided with the Gestapo during the Second World War before joining the Resistance and then killing the Gestapo! Not the ideal person for Martine Carole to meet! The psycho then sent flowers to her the next day as an “apology!”

Luckily, she never heard from him after that event – but it haunted her for her entire life.

Carol’s personal life was further complicated by her struggles with mental and physical health issues. She suffered from depression and was hospitalized for a nervous breakdown in 1953. In addition, she underwent multiple surgeries throughout her career, including a hysterectomy and a nose job.

Despite her fame, she had her competition. And no, we’re not talking about Marilyn Monroe. She was soon compared to other French actresses who began their careers at the same time as she did. She was compared to Brigitte Bardot and Simone Signoret, and often, she was considered inferior to them.

In her later years, Carol’s health deteriorated further. She suffered from cirrhosis of the liver and was hospitalized several times in the years leading up to her death. On February 6, 1967, Carol died of a heart attack at the age of 46.

Her death came as a shock to the industry and even to this day, no one knows how she became ill and whether she abused substances. Her story remains one of the tragic tales of French cinema.


Martine Carol remains an iconic figure in French cinema and is remembered today for her contributions to the film industry both in her native country and internationally. While she struggled to really break into American films owing to her struggles speaking English, hardcore cinephiles know exactly who she was!

Even though she faced criticism for her acting abilities and being overshadowed by other French actresses of the time, she was a pioneer for women in the film industry. In fact, she was one of the first actresses in France to achieve international fame and helped to pave the way for future generations of female actors.

However, her resilience and determination to continue working in the film industry despite these challenges have made her a role model for many.

Today, Martine Carol is remembered as a symbol of female empowerment and a trailblazer for women in the film industry. Her legacy lives on through her films and the influence she had on the industry, particularly in breaking down barriers for women in a male-dominated field.

In addition to her contributions to film, Martine Carol is also remembered for her philanthropy. She was a supporter of the French Red Cross and also donated to several other charitable causes throughout her life.

Martine Carol’s legacy is one of talent, resilience, and determination – and a great bit of tragedy thrown in. She overcame many obstacles throughout her life and career and left an indelible mark on French cinema. She is remembered today as an icon and a trailblazer, and her influence on the film industry will continue to be felt for many generations to come.

If you haven’t seen any of her films, now’s the perfect time to get started.


Are you a fan of any of Martine Carol? She was known as the French Marilyn Monroe – and as you can see, her life was just as glamorous but also just as tragic.

Now, here’s what we’d like to hear from you:

Do you think that bombshell actresses who die such tragic deaths are remembered more?

Or will a sex symbol always be remembered even if their life doesn’t end in tragedy?

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