Marie Madeleine Berthe Lebeau was born on June 10, 1923 in Antony, Seine, France. LeBeau married actor Marcel Dalio in 1938. They had met while performing a play together. In 1939 she appeared in her first movie, the melodrama “Jeunes filles en détresse”.
In June 1940, LeBeau and the Jewish Dalio fled Paris ahead of the invading German army and reached Lisbon, Portugal. They are presumed to have received transit visas from Aristides de Sousa Mendes, allowing them to enter Spain and journey on to Portugal. It took them two months to obtain visas to Chile. However, when their ship, the S.S. Quanza, stopped in Mexico, they were stranded, along with around 200 other passengers, when the Chilean visas they had purchased turned out to be forgeries. Eventually, they were able to get temporary Canadian passports and entered the United States.
Lebeau made her Hollywood debut in “Hold Back the Dawn” (1941) which featured Olivia de Havilland in a leading role. The following year, she was in the Errol Flynn movie “Gentleman Jim”, a biography of famed Irish-American boxer James J. Corbett. Later that year she received the role of Yvonne, Rick’s jilted mistress, in “Casablanca”. The Warner Brothers studios signed her to a $100-a-week contract for twenty-six weeks to be in a number of films. On June 22, while she was filming her scenes in Casablanca, her husband, Marcel Dalio, who played Emil the croupier in the film, filed for divorce in Los Angeles on the grounds of desertion. Shortly before the release of the movie, Warner Brothers terminated her contract. Since the death of Joy Page in April 2008, LeBeau has been the last surviving cast member of Casablanca.
After Casablanca, she appeared in two more American films. The first was a large role in the war drama “Paris After Dark” (1943), with her former husband. The following year, LeBeau had a smaller role in “Music for Millions”.
After the end of World War II, LeBeau returned to France and continued her acting career. In 1947, she appeared in “Les Chouans”. In 1950, LeBeau traveled to Great Britain to appear in a movie with Jean Simmons, “Cage of Gold”.
She would appear in 20 more movies, mainly French, including “Une Parisienne” (1957), with Brigitte Bardot as the star, and Federico Fellini's “8½” (1963). LeBeau's last two movies were Spanish productions in 1965. She married Italian screenwriter Tullio Pinelli, who had contributed to the script of “8½”, in 1988.
Madeleine appeared in one Euro-western “Gunmen of the Rio Grande” (1964) as Jennie Lee, starring Guy Madison.
Today we celebrate Madeleine Lebeau’s 90th birthday.