Tag Archives: Femme Fatale

Veronica Lake: The “Peekaboo” Femme Fatale

The “Femme Fatale” segment on NoirWhale.com is designed to highlight the life and merits of exceptional film noir actresses. These women are the embodiment of the femme fatale archetype, and propel possibly the most recognizable and integral theme in the noir genre.

Veronica Lake 1945

Veronica Lake (November 14, 1922 – July 7, 1973) Peekaboo!

“I wasn’t a sex symbol, I was a sex zombie.”

Veronica Lake was born Constance Frances Marie Ockelman in Brooklyn. Her father was a German oiler, her mother an Irish widow. It seems that she was destined to become a femme fatale of the silver screen; as a young woman she was expelled from an all-girls Catholic boarding school in Montreal. Later, when her family had moved to Miami, she developed a reputation in highschool as ‘the hot girl’ and was actually diagnosed as schizophrenic.

In 1938 she attended an acting school in Beverly Hills, small parts in several films got her noticed by director John Farrow (who was entranced by her peekaboo hairstyle) and led to a long-term agreement with Paramount.

She officially “brokeout” in I Wanted Wings (1941), and went on to consistently attract huge audiences to the films in which she starred. She’s best known for being paired onscreen with Alan Ladd (because he was so short for a leading man, few actresses were short enough to star opposite).

People argue that changing her hairstyle during WWII destroyed her career– but she was notoriously difficult to work with. Ms. Lake was known as ‘the bitch’ throughout Hollywood, and Joel McCrea (her co-star in Sullivan’s Travels) is quoted as saying “Life’s too short for two films with Veronica Lake.” Her career declined as she became a borderline alcoholic and more and more people refused to work with her.

In 1946, she again co-starred with Ladd in The Blue Dahlia– while filming, the screenplay author (and iconic noir crime fiction great) Raymond Chandler referred to her as “Moronica Lake.” Her popularity completely collapsed by the early ’50s and her career came to a close with her filing bankruptcy.

Veronica was married 4 times and had 4 children– After her third divorce she was a drifter in New York City and was arrested frequently (public drunkeness, disorderly conduct).

Lake died on July 7th, 1973 of hepatis and acute renal failure (due to her alcoholism).

She left a significant legacy in the world of film noir, and as a femme fatale her iconic hairstyle make her an essential component of noirwhale.com

Veronica Lake Femme Fatale

Peekaboo in Color

Veronica Lake Actress

Veronica in Color

Actress Veronica Lake

Veronica in Color

Veronica Lake I Wanted Wings

I Wanted Wings 1941

Femme Fatale Veronica Lake

Publicity Still

Veronica Lake Pilot

She had a pilot’s license, and flew from LA to NY.

Veronica Lake Portrait

up close

Veronica Lake Black and White

Light and shadow

Veronica Lake Shooshing

“SHhhhhhhh!”

Veronica Lake Fashion

the way the light hits this dress is otherworldly

Veronica Lake Ramrod 1947

Ramrod (1947)

Veronica Lake This Gun for Hire

This Gun For Hire (1942)

Veronica Lake Alan Ladd This Gun for Hire

with Alan Ladd, This Gun For Hire (1942)

Veronica Lake gif

(via terrymckays.tumblr.com)

*All Biographical Details from: 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veronica_Lake

*All Pictures (unless otherwise noted) from:

http://www.doctormacro.com

*Quote from:

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/v/veronica_lake.html

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Femme Fatales | Bette Davis

The “Femme Fatale” segment on NoirWhale.com is designed to highlight the life and merits of exceptional film noir actresses. These women are the embodiment of the femme fatale archetype, and propel possibly the most recognizable and integral theme in the noir genre.

Femme Fatales Bette Davis

Bette Davis. April 5th, 1908 to October 6th, 1989 (via womenoftheperformingarts.tumblr.com)

“I’m the nicest goddamn dame that ever lived.”

Ruth Elizabeth Davis, simply ‘Bette’ to those of us who recognize her, was born on April 5th, 1908. As potentially the greatest American actress of all time, books are filled with her film exploits (she appeared in more than 100) and other professional accomplishments– culminating in her tragic battle with breast cancer which ended her life at age 81.

She was the first actor/actress to ever reach ten Academy Award Nominations, and she won the award for Best Actress twice. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked her as the 2nd greatest female star of all time (she was second only to Katharine Hepburn). She was also the first woman ever to receive the Lifetime Achievement award from the same organization.

Stylistically, she’s known for intensity and perfectionism– characterized by a penchant for confrontation. Costars, studio executives, and film directors frequently ‘locked horns’ with the starlet, who was unflinching in sharing her opinions and issuing demands. Her candid approach, curt tone, and signature cigarette became recognizable trademarks, neatly folded into the femme fatale archetype by the hard-boiled authors of the era.

“My passions were all gathered together like fingers that made a fist. Drive is considered aggression today; I knew it then as purpose.”

Bette didn’t arrive in Hollywood until 1930, and was greeted by a surprising amount of failure. She was told she didn’t “look like an actress,” and failed her first screen test. Hilariously, she relates in a 1971 interview with Dick Cavett, “I was the most Yankee-est, most modest virgin who ever walked the earth. They laid me on a couch, and I tested fifteen men … They all had to lie on top of me and give me a passionate kiss. Oh, I thought I would die. Just thought I would die.” Her break arrived in the mercy of George Arliss, who gave her the lead in The Man Who Played God (1932) after her disappointing flops in many unsuccessful films. The success of the picture earned her respect, and more importantly a contract with Warner Brothers Studios.

She had to fight the unforgiving press, who teased her first husband Harmon “Ham” Nelson for earning only a tenth of her income (he took home $100.00 per week, she $1000.00). Ham refused to allow her to purchase a house until he could afford it himself. (During this period, Bette had several abortions).

Famously, Bette took Warner Brothers Studios to court in order to free herself of her contract. She felt that they had consigned her to mediocre films and were ultimately halting her career. She lost, but the trial was important to the development of Hollywood as we know it today.

She was cast in several memorable films, Marked Woman (1937) and Jezebel (1938) particularly, and it was during this period that she began to cheat on her husband (with Directors William Wyler and Howard Hughes). They were soon divorced. She collected 4 husbands before her death, though each marriage didn’t last; three ended in divorce and one made Bette a widow. Sadly, as she declined in her late years her reputation as a ‘bitch’ became the popular refrain. ‘Bitch’ or not, she was one helluva talent.

Her feud with Joan Crawford is legendary, and whether the hate was sincere or exaggerated its certainly entertaining. I’ve appended a wonderful anecdote about the inception of their catfight:

A little investigation shows that these two cinematic giants were reduced to duking it out over, what else, a man. Namely, the slightly less legendary, Franchot Tone. Bette starred alongside Franchot in the 1935 film Dangerous, a part for which she won her first Academy Award. Tone played a handsome architect to Bette’s alcoholic actress and she was soon smitten.

Said Bette  “I fell in love with Franchot, professionally and privately. Everything about him reflected his elegance, from his name to his manners.” It’s a pity this debonair actor inspired decades of tit-for-tat cat fighting.

Joan Crawford, at that time, was MGM’s reigning sex symbol. Newly divorced and on the prowl, she invited Tone over for dinner, only to greet him naked, in her solarium. Whether it was the nudity or the possibility of free tanning sessions, Franchot was hooked and Joan made sure Bette knew about it.

(visit : http://www.queensofvintage.com/bette-davis-vs-joan-crawford/ to read more)

Bette Davis is inseparably attached to the femme fatale archetype, and is possibly the most recognizable film noir starlet of them all. Her success is hardly measurable, the reach of her films universal. There is nothing I can say about her that hasn’t already been said, so I won’t try. Thanks for the memories Bette.

“In this business, until you’re known as a monster you’re not a star.”

Femme Fatale Bette Davis

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 Bette Davis Now Voyager 1942

for Now, Voyager 1942 (via bogarted.tumblr.com)

Bette Davis Life Magazine

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Bette Davis Whatever Happened to Baby Jane 1962

in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) (via camberwellfoxes.tumblr.com)

Bette Davis Autobiography

Promoting her Autobiography (via christopherniquet.tumblr.com)

Film Noir Bette Davis

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Bette Davis Film Noir

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Bette Davis Femme Fatale

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Bette Davis Actress

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Actress Bette Davis

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Bette Davis Femme Fatale

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Bette Davis Smoking

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Smoking Bette Davis

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Femme Fatale Bette Davis

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Old Bette Davis

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Bette Davis and Falcon

with a Falcon (via robertpina99.tumblr.com)

Bette Davis Hairstyle

getting her hair done (via pollypocket3674.tumblr.com)

Bette Davis Backstage

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Femme Fatale Bette Davis

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Bette Davis

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Ann Dvorak Joan Blondell and Bette Davis Three on a Match 1932

with Ann Dvorak and Joan Blondell. Three on a Match (1932) (via miss-flapper.tumblr.com)

Joan Crawford and Bette Davis

with Joan Crawford. (via i-love-old-hollywood.tumblr.com)

Femme Fatales Bette Davis

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Bette Davis Femme Fatales

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*ALL biographical details were obtained from:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bette_Davis

*ALL quotes were obtained from:

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/bette_davis.html

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Femme Fatales | Gloria Grahame

The “Femme Fatale” segment on NoirWhale.com is designed to highlight the life and merits of exceptional film noir actresses. These women are the embodiment of the femme fatale archetype, and propel possibly the most recognizable and integral theme in the noir genre.

Femme Fatales Gloria Grahame

Gloria Grahame (November 28, 1923- October 5, 1981) (via zanshinart.tumblr.com)

“I don’t think I ever understood Hollywood.”

This article is far from an exhaustive look at one of the most famous femme fatales of the film noir genre, but rather a sampling of facts about her incredible life.

Gloria Grahame was Gloria Hallward when she was born. Her mother was a British stage actress who used the name Jean Grahame, thus Gloria adopted the surname when she became an actress herself. Her older sister Joy Hallward was also an actress and she married Robert Mitchum’s little brother.

Gloria was signed to MGM Studios after performing on Broadway for several years. Her debut film was Blonde Fever (1944), but most famously she was cast as Violet Bick in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). Although she received great praise for the role, she was quickly typecast as the femme fatale in several film noir projects. Her first Oscar nomination (for Best Supporting Actress) was for her role as “Ginny” in the film Crossfire (1947). But She didn’t win an Academy Award until her performance as “Rosemary” in The Bad and The Beautiful (1952) (where she co-starred opposite Lana Turner and Kirk Douglas).

The femme fatale roles kept coming; Irene Nieves in Sudden Fear (1952), Vicki Buckley in Human Desire (1953), and Debby Marsh in Fritz Lang’s classic The Big Heat (1953).

“It wasn’t the way I looked at a man, it was the thought behind it.”

Sadly, Gloria’s insecurity about the appearance of her upper lip led her to plastic surgery and dental operations. The procedures left her lip paralyzed due to nerve damage, and her career never returned to its previous heights. Coupled with an ill-received performance in the musical film Oklahoma! (1955), she found few supporters left in Hollywood. Gloria, without other options, returned to the stage.

Although she was married four times, her relationships with Nicholas Ray and Anthony Ray were the most high profile. She married Nicholas in 1948 (a director, Rebel Without a Cause (1955) among others) and they had one child, Timothy. Their marriage ended when Nicholas walked in on Gloria and his 13 year old son Anthony having sex. She later went on to marry Anthony, and they had two children, Anthony Jr and James, before their inevitable divorce.

Grahame was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1980 but she refused to accept surgery (she didn’t believe that she had the disease, she wouldn’t acknowledge it). Instead of treatment, she flew to England to perform in a play. She suffered from a perforated bowel when a procedure to drain fluid from her stomach didn’t go smoothly. This mishap resulted in her death at age 57.

Like many femme fatales featured here, Gloria Grahame’s life was as noir as the dames she portrayed. She was an incredibly talented, tragic, and fascinating woman.

“There’s always a race against time. I don’t think for one moment that life gets better. How can it? One’s body starts to fall apart.”

Femme Fatale Gloria Grahame

(via bohemianmile.tumblr.com)

Gloria Grahame Laszlo Willinger 1954

1954, Photo by Laszlo Willinger (via missavagardner.tumblr.com)

Gloria Grahame Film Noir

1955 (via bogarted.tumblr.com)

Film Noir Gloria Grahame

1947, (via macey-mae.tumblr.com)

Actress Gloria Grahame

1971, (via whataboutbobbed.tumblr.com)

Gloria Grahame Smiling

Smiling (via thisisnodream.tumblr.com)

Gloria Grahame Old

1979, two years before her death (via bobertsbobgomery.tumblr.com)

Gloria Grahame The Cobweb 1955

The Cobweb (1955) (via blueruins.tumblr.com)

Gloria Grahame Starlet

1946, (via missavagardner.tumblr.com)

Gloria Grahame Femme Fatale

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Femme Fatale Gloria Grahame

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Gloria Grahame Actress

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Film Noir Gloria Grahame

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Gloria Grahame Glenn Ford The Big Heat

with Glenn Ford, The Big Heat (1953) (via thebluevelvetgoldmine.tumblr.com)

Gloria Grahame Sterling Hayden Naked Alibi 1954

with Sterling Hayden, Naked Alibi (1954) (via vintagebreeze.tumblr.com)

Gloria Grahame Nicolas Ray

with husband Nicolas Ray (via thecolorofnoir.tumblr.com)

In a Lonely Place 1950 Nicolas Ray Humphrey Bogart Gloria Grahame

with Humphrey Bogart, In a Lonely Place (1950) directed by husband Nicolas Ray (via retroadv.tumblr.com)

Gloria Grahame Humphrey Bogart

with Humphrey Bogart (via golden-films.com)

Gloria Grahame

(via gloria-grahame.tumblr.com)

*All biographical details were obtained from:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gloria_Grahame

*All quotes were obtained from:

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/gloria_grahame.html

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Femme Fatales | Brigitte Bardot

The “Femme Fatale” segment on NoirWhale.com is designed to highlight the life and merits of exceptional film noir actresses. These women are the embodiment of the femme fatale archetype, and propel possibly the most recognizable and integral theme in the noir genre.

Femme Fatales Brigitte Bardot

Brigitte Bardot (September 28, 1934- Present) (via vintagegal.tumblr.com)

“I’m a girl from a good family who was very well brought up. One day I turned my back on it all and became a bohemian.”

Brigitte Bardot was born on September 28th, 1934 in Paris. She was reared in a practicing Roman Catholic home, and shared her childhood with a younger sister named Marie-Jeanne. As little girls, they enrolled in local dance classes. Although Marie-Jeanne gave up the art, Brigitte continued to pursue ballet as a teenager.

She was accepted to the prestigious Conservatory of Paris and studied ballet with the Russian choreographer Boris Knyazev for three years. Her fellow dancers gave her the affectionate nick name, ‘bichette,’ which means ‘little doe.’ Unfortunately, Bichette was not bound for the dancer’s stage, she was bound for the screen.

In 1949, a family friend invited petite ‘BB’ to model in a fashion show. The event sparked several magazine/photoshoot opportunities for Brigitte, who landed on the cover of ELLE magazine in March of 1950. Professional momentum was gathering for the fifteen year old, when the ELLE shoot was noticed by the film director Roger Vadim. Enchanted by Ms. Bardot, He invited her to audition for an upcoming film.

Her film debut was in Le Trou Normand (Crazy Love) in 1952, and spun her into higher and higher circles. Most memorably, she smoldered in the films And God Created Woman (1956) and Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Mepris (Contempt) (1963). Both were extremely provocative, and garnered acclaim from critics and audiences alike. Sexy Bardot was propelled to the ‘sex-icon’ stratosphere, and thrived as a model and an actress known for her sultry gifts.

Notoriously, she’s known for refusing to work in Hollywood regardless of offers sent her way. This boycott may have been one of the reasons she became so beloved by the French people, who looked to her as a great symbol of their own. Even “Marianne,” the faceless emblem of France was given Bardot’s likeness in honor of her. Simone de Beauvoir called her a “locomotive of woman’s history” and declared her the most liberated woman of post-war France.

At 18 she married Roger Vadim, but it didn’t last. She was found embroiled in an affair with Jean-Louis Trintignant while they worked together on the film And God Created Woman. Tragically, Jean-Louis was also married at the time. Each divorced their spouses, then Jean-Louis and BB lived together. This was also short term, for within two years Bardot was in bed with the musician Gilbert Becaud, and Jean-Louis walked.

“It’s better to be unfaithful than faithful without wanting to be.”

John Gilmore, an Actor/True-Crime author, shared a brief fling with her in the late ’50s, but it was fleeting. He spoke critically of BB (perhaps unfairly), “I felt a beautiful warmth with Bardot but found it difficult to discuss things in any depth whatsoever.” Brigitte’s only son, Nicolas-Jacques, is from her second ex-husband Jacques Charrier whom she married in ’59 and divorced in ’62. In ’66 she shared another 3-year marriage with the German millionaire playboy Gunter Sachs.

In 1973, Brigitte retired from acting. She said it was “a way to get out elegantly.” In the end, she had starred in 47 films, opposite names such as Alain Delon, Jean Gabin, Sean Connery, Claudia Cardinale, Kirk Douglas, and Jeanne Moreau.

BB didn’t marry again until the ’90s (I can’t blame her). She and Bernard d’Ormale tied the last knot in her life in ’92. They are still married presently. The latter part of her life has been dedicated to animal activism.

“I started out as a lousy actress and have remained one.”

Femme Fatale Brigitte Bardot

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Brigitte Bardot

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Brigitte Bardot Bikini

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Brigitte Bardot Bonnie and Clyde

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BB

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Film Noir Brigitte Bardot

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Actress Brigitte Bardot

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Bardot Femme Fatale

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Brigitte Bardot Sunglasses

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Starlet Brigitte Bardot

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Brigitte Bardot Fashion

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Brigitte Bardot Icon

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Brigitte Bardot Animal Rights

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Le Mepris Brigitte Bardot

Le Mepris (via cosmosonic.tumblr.com)

Pablo Picasso and Brigitte Bardot

Pablo Picasso and Brigitte Bardot (via bloodyalba.tumblr.com)

Jean-Luc Godard and Brigitte Bardot

Jean-Luc Godard and Brigitte Bardot (via lanostalgiedujour.tumblr.com)

Femme Fatale Brigitte Bardot

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Brigitte Bardot Smile

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Facts:

  • The “Bardot Neckline” is named for her; This is when a shirt has a wide neck that exposes the shoulders.
  • Brigitte helped to popularize bikinis, from her wearing them in early films.
  • Bob Dylan dedicated the first song he ever wrote to her.
  • John Lennon and Paul McCartney idolized her when they were young. Lennon met her later in his life (on LSD) at the Mayfair Hotel in 1968. He recalled, “I was on acid and she was on her way out.” Apparently he was unimpressed with her.

*All Biographical Details from:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigitte_Bardot

*All Quotes from:

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/brigitte_bardot.html

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Femme Fatales | Anna May Wong

The “Femme Fatale” segment on NoirWhale.com is designed to highlight the life and merits of exceptional film noir actresses. These women are the embodiment of the femme fatale archetype, and propel possibly the most recognizable and integral theme in the noir genre.

Femme Fatales Anna May Wong

January 3, 1905 – February 3, 1961 (via secretcinema1.tumblr.com)

“Every time your picture is taken, you lose a part of your soul.” 

Anna May Wong was born on January 3rd, 1905 near the Chinatown neighborhood in Los Angeles. Born Wong Liu Tsong (meaning “frosted yellow willows”) she was the second of 7 children born to 2nd generation Chinese-American parents. As a child, she became obsessed with movies and spent much of her time in the nickelodeon theaters. She decided early that her future was on the silver screen, and at age 9 she began to beg film makers in her area for parts. Her relentless begging earned her the nickname “C.C.C.” meaning, “Curious Chinese Child.” By age 11 she had already determined that her film name would be Anna May Wong.

She was an extra in a great variety of films in her early career, and she eventually dropped out of high-school to pursue her acting full time in 1921. At age 17 she played her first leading roll, landing the lead in The Toll of the Sea (1922). She received great acclaim for the performance, but Hollywood seemed reluctant to provide her with the opportunities her talent deserved. Equally tragic, she was a victim of the U.S.’s anti-miscegenation laws which prevented her from sharing an onscreen kiss with any person of another race (even if that person were a white-male portraying an Asian man). Because there were no Asian leading men, Anna was prevented from becoming a leading lady. As a result, she was given dozens of supporting roles in which she performed admirably (even if she was disappointed and unfulfilled).

“I was so tired of the parts I had to play. There seems little for me in Hollywood, because, rather than real Chinese, producers prefer Hungarians, Mexicans, American Indians for Chinese roles.”

In 1926, Anna was given the honor of placing the first rivet into the structure of the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. She was never allowed to leave her hand or footprints in the cement there though. Sadly, she was given many roles that stereotyped Asian women and this troubled her. In 1928 Wong left the U.S. for other opportunities in Europe. Overseas, she’s best known for her performance in Piccadilly (1929), which was her last silent film. Although the lead had been granted to Gilda Grey, it was widely accepted that Wong “steals the show.”

While in Germany, Wong became an inseparable friend of the director Leni Riefenstahl. Her close friendships with several women throughout her life, including Marlene Dietrich and Cecil Cunningham, led to rumors of lesbianism which damaged her public reputation.These rumors, in particular of her supposed relationship with Dietrich, embarrassed Wong’s family who in any case had long been opposed to her acting career, at that time not considered to be an entirely respectable profession.

Her success in Europe ironically enticed the American Studio, Paramount Pictures, to offer her a meaty contract. Excited by the possibility of serious/leading roles, Anna agreed and returned to the states. In Shanghai Express (1932), she starred alongside Marlene Dietrich but received very mixed reviews.

In 1937, the greatest tragedy of Anna May Wong’s career took place:

In the 1930s, the popularity of Pearl Buck’s novels, especially The Good Earth, as well as growing American sympathy for China in its struggles with Japanese Imperialism, opened up opportunities for more positive Chinese roles in U.S. films. Wong returned to the U.S. in June 1935 with the goal of obtaining the role of O-lan, the lead female character in MGM’s film version of The Good Earth. Since its publication in 1931, Wong had made known her desire to play O-lan in a film version of the book; and as early as 1933, Los Angeles newspapers were touting Wong as the best choice for the part. Nevertheless, the studio apparently never seriously considered Wong for the role because Paul Muni, an actor of European descent, was to play O-lan’s husband, Wang Lung. The Chinese government also advised the studio against casting Wong in the role. The Chinese advisor to MGM commented: “whenever she appears in a movie, the newspapers print her picture with the caption ‘Anna May again loses face for China’ “.

According to Wong, she was instead offered the part of Lotus, a deceitful song girl who helps to destroy the family and seduces the family’s oldest son. Wong refused the role, telling MGM head of production Irving Thalberg, “If you let me play O-lan, I will be very glad. But you’re asking me – with Chinese blood – to do the only unsympathetic role in the picture featuring an all-American cast portraying Chinese characters.” The role Wong hoped for went to Luise Rainer, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance. Wong’s sister, Mary Liu Heung Wong, appeared in the film in the role of the Little Bride.  MGM’s refusal to consider Wong for this most high-profile of Chinese characters in U.S. film is remembered today as “one of the most notorious cases of casting discrimination in the 1930s”.

Anna was an incredible actress who became a reluctant victim of the era she lived in. Even at the end of her life she was still combating stereotypical and embarrassing roles. She died on February 3rd, 1961 of a heart attack as she slept in her home.

“Why is it that the screen Chinese is always the villain? And so crude a villain – murderous, treacherous, a snake in the grass! We are not like that. How could we be, with a civilization that is so many times older than the West?

Anna May Wong Color Portrait

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Anna May Wong Color Picture

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Anna May Wong Piccadilly 1929

Anna in Piccadilly 1929 (via positivelythesamedame.tumblr.com)

Film Noir Anna May Wong

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Anna May Wong Top Hat

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Femme Fatale Anna May Wong

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 Femme Fatales Anna May Wong

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Anna May Wong Chinese American

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Anna May Wong 1938

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Actress Anna May Wong

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Anna May Wong

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Anna May Wong Femme Fatale

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Anna May Wong Music

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Anna May Wong Portrait

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Marlene Dietrich Anna May Wong

Shanghai Express 1932 (via those-strange-eyes.tumblr.com)

Marlene Dietrich Anna May Wong Leni Riefenstahl

On Set: Shanghai Express 1932 (via those-strange-eyes.tumblr.com)

Film Noir Anna May Wong Shanghai Express 1932

Shanghai Express (via garconniere.tumblr.com)

*All Biographical Details and Quotes from : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_May_Wong

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Femme Fatales | Jean Seberg

The “Femme Fatale” segment on NoirWhale.com is designed to highlight the life and merits of exceptional film noir actresses. These women are the embodiment of the femme fatale archetype, and propel possibly the most recognizable and integral theme in the noir genre.

Femme Fatales Jean Seberg

November 13, 1938- August 30, 1979 (via the60livehere.tumblr.com)

“Money doesn`t buy happiness. But happiness isn`t everything.”

Jean Seberg was born on November 13th, 1938 in Marshalltown Iowa to working class parents. Her mother was a substitute teacher, and her father was a pharmacist. She didn’t make her film debut until 1957, when she appeared in Saint Joan after being discovered by Otto Preminger (who conducted a $150,000 dollar talent search). She said of the experience:

“I have two memories of Saint Joan. The first was being burned at the stake in the picture. The second was being burned at the stake by the critics. The latter hurt more. I was scared like a rabbit and it showed on the screen. It was not a good experience at all. I started where most actresses end up.”

After facing considerable criticism for her acting in the States, she spent time filming overseas; most notably her roles in the French New Wave. She most famously appeared as Patricia in Godard’s Breathless (1960) opposite Jean-Paul Belmondo. The film went on to become an international success, and she was praised worldwide for her performance. This notoriety led to her continued work in the genre, opening up many pleasing offers that otherwise would have remained closed to her in the U.S..

What happened next is a matter of great debate: At the height of her fame, she suddenly stopped acting in Hollywood. Many point to a FBI smear campaign that was directed at Jean because of the great financial support she offered various Civil Rights groups (NAACP, The Black Panthers, Mesquaki Bucks). Other potential reasons for the campaign were alleged interracial sexual relationships Jean was said to have had. From the wiki:

“The FBI operation against Seberg used COINTELPRO program techniques to harass, intimidate, defame and discredit the well-known actress. The FBI’s stated goal was an unspecified “neutralization” of Ms. Seberg; all intended to be done while hiding FBI involvement. One stated FBI subsidiary objective was to “cause her embarrassment and serve to cheapen her image with the public,” while taking the “usual precautions to avoid identification of the Bureau.” FBI strategy and modalities can be found in FBI inter-office memos, since declassified and released to the public under FOIA.”

In 1970, when Ms. Seberg was pregnant, the FBI created a false story that the child she was carrying was actually fathered by a member of The Black Panther party and not her then husband Romain Gary. She gave birth to an infant girl named Nina, who died after only 2 days. Jean held an open casket burial so that onlookers would see the child’s white skin and put the rumors to rest. According to those closest to Jean, she suffered years of intimidation, break-ins, wiretapping, and tailing by FBI operatives. In one document released to the public, Ms. Seberg is referred to as “the alleged promiscuous and sex-perverted white actress.”

With such a body of horrifying evidence before us, it’s difficult to believe that the FBI had nothing to do with the suspicious circumstances surrounding her death. In August 1979, she went missing for eleven days. She was eventually found dead in the back of her car, parked outside her apartment in Paris. Her official cause of death was noted as an overdose of barbiturates and alcohol leading to suicide. A note was found in her hand that read, “Forgive me. I can no longer live with my nerves.” Questions have risen concerning the enormous alcohol levels in her blood and her lack of driving glasses as potential signs of foul play; for how could she have operated the vehicle? Why was she in the back seat?

Jean Seberg is a modern icon of style, and most definitely an incredible femme fatale. I feel so disgusted that she could be the victim of such bullying at the hands of an institution we currently uphold.

“I am taken up into all the beauty and terror. I am riding in blue-dust clouds.”

Jean Seberg

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Femme Fatale Jean Seberg

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Film Noir Jean Seberg

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Femme Fatales Jean Seberg

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Jean Seberg

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Jean Seberg and Dog

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Film Noir Jean Seberg

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Jean Seberg Fashion

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Breathless 1960

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Fashion Jean Seberg

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Jean Seberg Jean-Paul Belmondo

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French New Wave Jean Seberg

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*All biographical details were obtained from : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Seberg

*All quotes were obtained from: http://quotes.lucywho.com/jean-seberg-quotes-t16737.html and http://violentwavesofemotion.tumblr.com/

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Noir Comics | Fatale by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Noir Comics Fatale Ed Brubaker Sean Phillips

Fatale by Ed Brubake and Sean Phillips

Fatale is a noir and horror genre cross-breed from my favorite creator team, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Brubaker’s tale is his most complex and twisted yet, spanning a half-century of events told in tandem. Phillips’ art is an exercise in style, his own now-so-recognizable as it enters its fully-realized maturity. I was delighted to trudge through muddy uni-sized panels as dark as any noir and darker for their horrific tilt. Taken as a whole, Fatale is cosmic Lovecaftian noir orbiting an undying femme fatale.

Noir Comics Fatale Josephine

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Where the complexity of the plot intimidates, it’s important to pay close attention to the characters and events as they unfold. Fatale is not a lazy reader, to be taken in random snippets on assorted afternoons; It’s made to be read in the deep throat of night, white knuckles turning pages and reexamining panels for hidden, less-obvious, details.

Noir Comics Fatale

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The setting is split between our present-day and the 1950s- with the same seductive and ageless woman in the center of the action.  In former times, we see San Francisco reporter Hank Raines falling into the fatal perfumed pitfalls of classic noir fare. While in our day, Nicolas Lash discovers a secret that sets him on a perilous and dark trajectory, dooming him to repeat the past. The woman that spans the century in question, Josephine, breaks the archetypical mold of the femme fatale, becoming a creature of fantastical power and influence. Most femme fatale themes within the noir genre deal directly with the idea of resistance, but what if you are physically unable to resist her? What if you must obey? This theme of helpless obedience, of complete power wielded by the female lead, comprises the central theme of this groundbreaking noir comic.

Horror Comics Fatale

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We need more creators who aren’t afraid to push the noir comics genre into new realms. Brubaker and Phillips have been staking new boundaries for years, I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Fatale Josephine Sean Phillips

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Femme Fatales | Sophia Loren

The “Femme Fatale” segment on NoirWhale.com is designed to highlight the life and merits of exceptional film noir actresses. These women are the embodiment of the femme fatale archetype, and propel possibly the most recognizable and integral theme in the noir genre.

Femme Fatales Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren (1934-Present) (via pandas-are-black-white-and-asian.tumblr.com)

“Sex appeal is fifty percent what you’ve got and fifty percent what people think you’ve got.”

Born Sophia Villani Scicolone on the 20th of September in 1934 in Rome Italy, Sophia is the oldest of 4 siblings (one sister and two half brothers). During World War II, the area in which she lived was a frequent bombing target of the Allied forces. As one such bombing raid commenced she was struck on the chin by a piece of shrapnel as she ran for cover. At age 14 she entered a formal beauty contest in Naples, and although she was not crowned the winner, she was named as one of the finalists. A short time later she enrolled in acting classes and received her first assignment as an actress being an extra in the film Quo Vadis (1951).

Sophia’s first starring role was in the film Aida (1953), but her breakthrough role was in The Gold of Naples (1954). Over the next three years she starred in films opposite great leading men such as: Marcello Mastroianni, John Wayne, Cary Grant, and Frank Sinatra. A five film contract with Paramount Pictures saw her launched into the realm of international stardom in 1958. In 1961, she starred in the film Two Women, which was the story of a mother trying to protect her daughter in war-torn Italy. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance and became the first actress to win the award for a non-English performance.

Throughout the 1960s, she was one of the most famous actresses in the world. Her fame reached it’s pinnacle when she was paid a whopping $1 million dollars to appear in The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964). During this era, her list of famous co-stars grew: Anthony Perkins, Peter Sellers, Clark Gable, Paul Newman, Gregory Peck, and Marlon Brando.

She has continued to act and contribute to cinema up to the current day, starring in the film Nine (2009) opposite modern greats: Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson, Marion Cotillard, and Nicole Kidman.

Sophia owns homes in Geneva Switzerland, Naples, and Rome. In 1999, she filed lawsuits against 76 pornographic websites for posting altered nude photos of her on the internet. She’s a devout Roman Catholic.

Sophia Loren is number 21 of 25 greatest female film stars of all time. She’s an Italian femme fatale, and an incredible addition to the noir genre.

“A woman’s dress should be like a barbed-wire fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view.”

Femme Fatales Sophia Loren

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Femme Fatales Sophia Loren Elvis Presley

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Femme Fatales Sophia Loren Jayne Mansfield

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Femme Fatales Sophia Loren

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*All biographical information was snagged from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophia_Loren

*Quotes were snagged from:
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/s/sophia_loren.html

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Femme Fatales | Marlene Dietrich

The “Femme Fatale” segment on NoirWhale.com is designed to highlight the life and merits of exceptional film noir actresses. These women are the embodiment of the femme fatale archetype, and propel possibly the most recognizable and integral theme in the noir genre.

Femme Fatales Marlene Dietrich

Marlene Dietrich, December 27, 1901- May 6, 1992 (via bellecs.tumblr.com)

“Darling, the legs aren’t so beautiful, I just know what to do with them.”

Born Marie Magdalene Dietrich on December 27th 1901, this German-American Actress rose to become one of the most prominent women in the history of show business. Her lifetime spanned both World Wars, and she personally felt the impact of the turbulent era, losing both her father and step-father at an extremely young age. As a teenager, she studied poetry, theatre, and the violin though her dreams of becoming a violinist were shattered by an unfortunate wrist injury.

“She was nicknamed “Lena” and “Lene” (pronounced Lay-neh) within the family. Around the age of 11, she contracted her two first names to form the then-novel name of “Marlene”.”

Her first appearances on the stage were as a chorus girl in vaudeville-style shows. Eventually she landed a part in the 1922 film: So sind die Männer (The Little Napoleon), but it wasn’t anything earth shaking. A year later she married Rudolf Sieber, and bore her only child the year after that; a daughter, named Marie Elisabeth Sieber. Throughout the remainder of the 1920’s Dietrich continued to land roles on both the stage and film in Berlin.

1929 saw the starlet’s breakthrough. She played the role of the cabaret singer Lola-Lola in the film The Blue Angel. Riding the wave of the film’s success, Marlene relocated to Hollywood, CA on a contract with Paramount Pictures. Her first American Film, Morocco, saw her cast again as a cabaret singer and was considered greatly provocative for the era because at one point in the film she wears a man’s white neck-tie and kisses another woman. The role earned her an Oscar Nom for “Best Actress in a Leading Role”. She didn’t win.

Dietrich went on to star in some of the most cinematically beautiful films in history, including: Dishonored (1931), Blonde Venus (1932), Shanghai Express (1932), The Scarlet Empress (1934), and The Devil is a Woman (1935).

In the late 1930’s while Marlene was in London, she was approached by official representatives of the Nazi party. They desired her to return to Germany as the foremost film star of the Third Reich. Dietrich refused their lucrative offer and applied for U.S. Citizenship. She was awarded it in 1939.

Throughout World Ward II Marlene was a staunch anti-Nazi and was rarely matched in her efforts to raise war bonds.

From the early 1950s to the mid 1970s Dietrich became a famous cabaret performer, headlining her own “one-woman” show. She was in great demand worldwide throughout the time period and became well known for her top-hat and tails costume. Here are a few fun facts:

Her daringly sheer “nude dress” — a heavily beaded evening gown of silk soufflé, which gave the illusion of transparency — designed by Jean Louis, attracted a lot of publicity
Dietrich employed Burt Bacharach as her musical arranger starting in the mid-1950s; together they refined her nightclub act into a more ambitious theatrical one-woman show with an expanded repertoire. Bacharach’s arrangements helped to disguise Dietrich’s limited vocal range – she was a contralto – and allowed her to perform her songs to maximum dramatic effect.
She would often perform the first part of her show in one of her body-hugging dresses and a swansdown coat, and change to top-hat and tails for the second half of the performance. This allowed her to sing songs usually associated with male singers.

Late in her life, Marlene’s health took a turn. She suffered from Cervical Cancer and poor circulation in her legs. The discomfort led her to be dangerously reliant on painkillers and alcohol. In 1975 she tragically broke her leg during a stage performance in Australia, ending her career. A year later her husband Rudolf succumbed to cancer.

Marlene Dietrich eventually died of renal failure in Paris in 1992. She was 90 years old.

Her personal life was largely hidden from the public view, but she was a bisexual who participated in the gay/drag scene frequently. She also carried on numerous affairs with famous contemporaries; among them: Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, Erich Maria Remarque, Jean Gabin, Mercedes de Acosta, Yul Brynner, John Wayne, George Bernard Shaw, and John F. Kennedy. Although raised Protestant, she said that she lost her faith during World War II. She said, “If God exists, he needs to review his plan.”

She is an irreplaceable femme fatale figure in the world of film noir. Her iconic image has influenced generations of actresses in the genre across the world.

In 1999, the American Film Institute named Dietrich the ninth-greatest female star of all time.

“Glamour is what I sell, it’s my stock in trade.”

Femme Fatales Marlene Dietrich

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Femme Fatales Marlene Dietrich

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Femme Fatales Marlene Dietrich The Scarlet Empress

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Femme Fatales Marlene Dietrich Shanghai Express

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Femme Fatales Marlene Dietrich Irving Penn

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Femme Fatales Marlene Dietrich

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Femme Fatales Marlene Dietrich

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Femme Fatales Marlene Dietrich Gary Cooper Morocco

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Femme Fatales Marlene Dietrich

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Femme Fatales Marlene Dietrich Top-Hat and Tails

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Femme Fatales Marlene Dietrich The Devil is a Woman

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A scandalous tale:

At age 60, Marlene Dietrich was summoned to the White House by President Kennedy and was received in his private quarters. Seduction was inevitable, and she helped him remove the wrapping that supported his fragile back. Afterwards the president asked Dietrich if she had ever slept with his father. She said no, and the president was delighted to have “gotten somewhere first before the old man could”. -The Academy Awards: The Complete History of Oscar

*All biographical information was snagged from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marlene_Dietrich

*Quotes were snagged from:
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/marlene_dietrich.html

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Femme Fatales | Pam Grier

The “Femme Fatale” segment on NoirWhale.com is designed to highlight the life and merits of exceptional film noir actresses. These women are the embodiment of the femme fatale archetype, and propel possibly the most recognizable and integral theme in the noir genre.

Femme Fatale Pam Grier

Pamela Suzette Grier May 26th 1949- Present (via elizabitchtaylor.tumblr.com)

“I’ve never considered myself to be beautiful, and I still don’t.”

Pam Grier became famous in the early 1970′s after starring in a string of moderately successful “blaxploitation” films. The most famous of these being the iconic Coffy (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974). The impact she has left on the film noir/neo-noir industry is immeasurable, especially in a genre where the powerful femme fatale archetype had been dominated by white glamour girls from Hollywood.  Pam proved that she had the sexy, sultry, provocative chops of any starlet…and then some.

Pamela Suzette Grier was born on May 26th 1949 in North Carolina. Tragically, at age six she was raped by two boys when she was left unattended at her aunt’s house. She said of the event,  “It took so long to deal with the pain of that. You try to deal with it, but you never really get over it. And not just me; my family endured so much guilt and anger that something like that happened to me.” Her family moved frequently because her father Clarence worked as a mechanic and technical sergeant in the United States Air Force. Pam’s childhood was spent on various military bases, until finally they settled in Denver, Colorado where she attended high school.

Ms. Grier moved to California in 1967 where she was discovered by the director Jack Hill. She was quickly type-cast as powerful female characters, becoming the first black female to headline in an action film. Roger Ebert said of her performance in Coffy (1973) that she had a “beautiful face and astonishing form.” She continued to work in various films throughout the blaxploitation era and beyond.

Her most famous relationships have been with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Richard Pryor.

She was thrust into the spotlight again in 1997 when she starred in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, a film that partly paid homage to the blaxploitation films of her youth. She received a Golden Globe nomination for the role. Additionally, the film review site RottenTomatoes.com has ranked her as the second Greatest Female Action Heroine in film history. Although she never starred in anything we would consider “film noir” I’m proud to add her to the growing list of femme fatales on noirWhale.com and count her as one of the first black femme fatales.

“Each time you do a film you gain a lot of experience and build a visual resume where people get to know who you are.”

Femme Fatale Pam Grier

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Femme Fatale Pam Grier Coffy 1973

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Femme Fatale Pam Grier Jackie Brown 1997

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Femme Fatale Pam Grier Richard Pryor

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Femme Fatale Pam Grier

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Pam Grier is a breathtaking, beautiful, and powerful femme fatale.

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