Fifi D'Orsay

Fifi D'Orsay

Original Name Marie-Rose Angelina Yvonne Lussier
Birth
Montreal, Montreal Region, Quebec, Canada
Death 2 Dec 1983 (aged 79)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Whispering Pines, Lot #475 G-4 Cremated with ashes buried
Memorial ID 11556 · View Source
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Actress. Fifi D'Orsay received notoriety as a Canadian-born actress starting her fifty-year career in the American silent movie era and ending it in an award-winning Broadway musical. She became the “French Bombshell” that was not French. Although she was French Canadian, she easily played the role of the charming Parisian flirt with her beauty and French accent. At the age of twenty, Marie-Rose Angelina Yvonne Lussier joined with a friend in New York City in hopes of finding an acting career. She had left her large Roman Catholic family with ten siblings behind in hopes of doing better than a part-time secretarial position. By telling a director that she had been a Follies Bergere showgirl in Paris, she landed a position with The Greenwich Village Follies singing “Yes! We Have No Bananas,” and was renamed “Mademoiselle Fifi.” Later, she took the surname of “D'Orsay,” after a perfume. During her successful run on the Vaudeville circuit, she had two partners in her comedy acts, Edward Gallagher and Herman Berrans. Leaving Vaudeville, she went to Hollywood after a favorable screen test. She was finding roles playing the naughty French girl wearing a laced negligee and showing her beautiful, long legs in pre-code movies. Starring Will Rogers , she appeared as “Fifi” in the pre-code 1929 movie, “They Had to See Paris.” In 1930 she had her first top billing in the early “talkie” film, “Those Three French Girls” produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. In 1931 she had the lead female role of Fleurette play ing opposite Will Rogers, in the Fox Production's “You're as Young as you Feel.” Although the majority of her films were comedies, she often sang solos. A newspaper article dated January 26, 1931 in the “San Francisco Call-Bulletin” stated by missing the ship's disbarment call at 9 PM for all visitors, she took an unexpected ocean voyage. Since she was in the middle of filming a movie, she sent a radio message ship-to-shore to the studio director that she would be late for work and the next port would be in the Panama Canal Zone. In 1932 after a disagreement with Fox Studios, she walked out without finishing her contract. She admitted that was the worst professional mistake of her life as she had difficulty finding film roles after that incident. She continued to have steady employment by alternating her assignments between the better-paying Vaudeville acts and film parts. In 1934 Warner Brother's Pictures money-making hit “”Wonder Bar” starring a black-faced Al Jolson, she played the supporting role of Mitzi. From 1933 to 1937, she made only seven films causing her fan mail to drop from thousands of letters a week to hundreds. In 1936 she became a United States citizen. During World War II, she performed for American troops in 1941 on the Pacific islands, which credited her with newly-found notoriety. In 1944 she had the role of Mimi in the B movie, “Delinquent Daughter.” At the age of 47, she had the role of playing a twenty-year-old in the “Gangsters.” In 1950 when the Palace Theatre revived vaudeville, she returned with her act. Knowing that she had never been to Paris, France, she was given in 1951 around-trip airplane ticket for the trip by Ralph Edwards on “This is Your Life.” She returned the ticket for cash, thus never seeing Paris. She was a contestant in the February 23, 1956 episode of Groucho Marx's television program, “ You Bet Your Life .” As an aging actress, she took roles in television such as “Adventures in Paradise” in 1959; “Perry Mason” in episodes "The Case of the Grumbling Grandfather,” Season 4 in 1961 and “ The Case of the Bountiful Beauty,” Season 7 in 1964; “Bonanza” in 1963, and “Bewitched” in 1964. She made numerous appearances on television talk shows such as the “Tonight Show” with Jack Parr and later with Johnny Carson, the Merv Griffin Show, and The Mike Douglas Show. In 1964 actor Dean Martin offered her a small role as a French baroness in “What A Way to Go,” which followed the next year with a small role in “Wild and Wonderful” with Tony Curtis and later “The Art of Love” with Dick Van Dyke. One source stated that she made 23 films. At the age of 67, she had the part of a former Follies headliner, “Solange LaFitte” in a Broadway musical, the “Follies,” which was a mimic of her own professional story. Containing her strong version of “Ah, Paris,” the cast album became a success. The musical opened April 4, 1971, had 522 successful performances, received eleven Tony Award nominations with seven awarded, given the New York Drama Critic's Award for Best Musical and closed July 1, 1972. She married twice, first to Maurice E. Hill on December 7, 1933 and then Peter La Ricos on March 26, 1947, and even though against her Roman Catholic faith, divorced each after about five years. She admitted that she made thousands upon thousands of dollars, did not save any, and spent at least one hundred dollars more than she made. After being diagnosed with cancer, she resided in the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, where she died. A twenty-page biography can be found in the book “Once Upon a Time in Paradise: Canadian-born in the Golden Age of Hollywood” by Charles Foster, which was published in 2003.

Bio by: Linda Davis


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 7 Aug 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 11556
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Fifi D'Orsay (16 Apr 1904–2 Dec 1983), Find a Grave Memorial no. 11556, citing Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale), Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .