Capucine on 25 April 1962
Born Germaine Hélène Irène Lefebvre
(1928-01-06)6 January 1928
Saint-Raphaël, Var, France
Died 17 March 1990(1990-03-17) (aged 62)
Lausanne, Switzerland
Cause of death Suicide
Occupation Model, actress
Years active 19481990
Spouse(s) Pierre Trabaud (19501950)

Capucine (6 January 1928  17 March 1990)[1] was a French fashion model and actress known for her comedic roles in The Pink Panther (1963) and What's New Pussycat? (1965). She appeared in 36 films and 17 television productions between 1948 and 1990.

Early life

The future Capucine was born Germaine Hélène Irène Lefebvre on 6 January 1928 in Saint-Raphaël, Var, France.[1][2] She often confused the issue of her birth by claiming that she was born in 1931 or 1933, and most sources indicate those years. She attended school in Saumur, France, and received a B.A. in foreign languages.[3]

In 1945, at age 17, while riding in a carriage in Paris, Lefebvre was noticed by a commercial photographer. Adopting the name "Capucine" (French for nasturtium), she became a fashion model, working for fashion houses Givenchy and Christian Dior.[3]

Capucine met Audrey Hepburn while modeling for Givenchy in Paris. The two would remain close friends for the rest of Capucine's life.[4]


From the trailer for The Pink Panther (1963)

In 1949, Capucine made her film debut in the French film Rendez-vous de juillet.[5]

In 1957, film producer Charles K. Feldman spotted Capucine while she was modeling in New York City. Feldman brought her to Hollywood to learn English and study acting under Gregory Ratoff.[6] She was signed to a contract with Columbia Pictures in 1958 and landed her first English-speaking role in the film Song Without End (1960) for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

Over the next few years, Capucine made six more major motion pictures, including North to Alaska (1960), a comedy, as a prostitute who becomes the love interest of John Wayne, and Walk on the Wild Side (1962), in which she portrayed a redeemed hooker, before moving to Switzerland in 1962.[7]

Much of 1963's hit film The Pink Panther was shot in Europe. A crime comedy that led to a number of sequels, the film starred David Niven and Peter Sellers along with Capucine. The risqué comedy What's New Pussycat? (1965), which co-starred Sellers and Peter O'Toole, was filmed entirely in France. She continued making films in Europe until her death.[2]

Personal life

She met Pierre Trabaud on the set of Rendez-vous (1949) and they married the next year. The marriage lasted only eight months and Capucine never married again.[8]

She had an affair with Charles K. Feldman, who produced her films What's New Pussycat?, The 7th Dawn and The Honey Pot.

Capucine met actor William Holden in the early 1960s. They starred in the films The Lion (1962) and The 7th Dawn (1964). Holden was married to Brenda Marshall, but the two began a two-year affair. After the affair ended, she and Holden remained friends until Holden's death in 1981.[9]


On 17 March 1990, Capucine jumped to her death from her eighth-floor apartment in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she had lived for 28 years, having reportedly suffered from illness and depression for some time.[1][10]

Selected filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1948 The Eagle with Two Heads La dame au buffet Uncredited
1949 Rendez-vous de juillet Une amie de Pierre Uncredited
Branquignol Une cow-girl Uncredited
1950 My Friend Sainfoin
1951 Bernard and the Lion La baronne
1955 Mademoiselle de Paris Alternative title: Mademoiselle from Paris
Frou-Frou Une amie d'Arthus, le peintre Uncredited
1960 Song Without End Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein
North to Alaska Michelle 'Angel' Bonet
1961 Le Triomphe de Michel Strogoff Tatoa, a Volskaya Alternative title: The Triumph of Michael Strogoff
1962 Walk on the Wild Side Hallie Gerard
The Lion Christine
I dongiovanni della Costa Azzurra Alternative title: Beach Casanova
1963 The Pink Panther Simone Clouseau
1964 The 7th Dawn Dhana Mercier
1965 What's New Pussycat? Renée Lefebvre
1966 Le fate Marta (segment "Fata Marta")
1967 The Honey Pot Princess Dominique
1969 Fräulein Doktor Dr. Saforet
The Exquisite Cadaver Lucia Fonte
Fellini Satyricon Trifena
1971 Red Sun Pepita
1972 Search Silvana Tristano Episode: "The Murrow Disappearance"
1975 Incorrigible Hélène
1975 Jackpot
1976 The Con Artists Belle Duke Alternative titles: Bluff, The Con Man
Per amore Marina Reggiani, Alberto's wife
1977 Ecco noi per esempio Moglie di Click
1978 Portrait of a Bourgeoise in Black Amalia Mazzarini
1979 From Hell to Victory Nicole Levine
Neapolitan Mystery Sister Angela
Arabian Adventure Vahishta
Jaguar Lives! Zina Vanacore
1982 Hart to Hart Lily Von Borg Episode: "Hart of Diamonds"
Aphrodite Lady Suzanne Stanford
Trail of the Pink Panther Lady Simone Litton
1983 Balles perdues Madam Teufminn
Curse of the Pink Panther Lady Simone Litton
1985 Murder, She Wrote Belle Chaney Episode: "Paint Me a Murder"
1986 Sins Odile Miniseries
1987 Delirium: Photo of Gioia Flora
My First Forty Years Princess Caracciolo
1990 Blaues Blut Gräfin von Altenberg Unknown episodes

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Donnelley, Paul (2005-11-01). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries (3 ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 236. ISBN 1-84449-430-6.
  2. 1 2 Marshall, Bill; Johnston, Cristina (2005). France and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History : A Multidisciplinary Encyclopedia. 3. ABC-CLIO. pp. 211–212. ISBN 1-85109-411-3.
  3. 1 2 Segrave, Kerry; Martin, Linda (1990). The Continental Actress: European Film Stars Of the Postwar Era--Biographies, Criticism, Filmographies, Bibliographies. McFarland. p. 155. ISBN 0-899-50510-4.
  4. Paris, Barry (2002). Audrey Hepburn. Berkley Pub Group. p. 319. ISBN 0-425-18212-6.
  5. Rendez-vous de juillet at the Internet Movie Database
  6. Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the Silent Era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 109. ISBN 1-55783-551-9.
  7. Erickson, Hal. "Capucine". Allmovie.
  8. Capua, Michelangelo (2010). William Holden: A Biography. McFarland. p. 123. ISBN 0-786-44440-1.
  9. Strodder, Chris (2000). Swingin' Chicks Of the Sixties. Cedco Pub. p. 112. ISBN 0-7683-2232-4.
  10. "FRENCH ACTRESS, CAPUCINE, LEAPS TO HER DEATH". Deseret News. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret News Pub. Co. March 20, 1990. ISSN 0745-4724.
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