Michèle Mercier (born 1 January 1939 as Jocelyne Yvonne Renée Mercier) is a French actress.[1] In the course of her career she has worked with leading directors like François Truffaut, Jean-Pierre Melville, Jacques Deray, Dino Risi, Mario Monicelli, Mario Bava, Peter Collinson and Ken Annakin. Her leading men have included Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio Gassman, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Gabin, Charles Aznavour, Robert Hossein, Charles Bronson, Tony Curtis and Charlton Heston. She has appeared in over fifty films, and is best known for her starring role in Angelique, Marquise des Anges.

Michèle Mercier
Michèle Mercier at age 49
Jocelyne Yvonne Renée Mercier

(1939-01-01) 1 January 1939 (age 85)
Nice, France
  • Actress
  • dancer
  • singer
Years active1957–present
Spouse(s)André Smagghe
Claude Bourillot



Mercier was born into a wealthy family; her father was a French pharmacist and her mother Italian.

Mercier initially wanted to be a dancer. The circumstances of war made this difficult and her parents saw it as only a whim; however, her determination won through and she joined the "ballet-rats", as the dancers of the chorus are termed. She soon advanced to soloist in the Nice Opéra. At the age of 15 she met Maurice Chevalier, who predicted that she would be a success.

She moved to Paris aged 17, and first joined the troupe of Roland Petit, then the company of the "Ballets of the Eiffel Tower". Parallel to her career as dancer, Mercier studied acting under Solange Sicard. For her film début her birth name seemed too long and old-fashioned. It was suggested she take the name Michèle: this happened to be name of her younger sister, who had died at the age of five from typhoid fever. However, she adopted the name as a tribute to the actress Michèle Morgan.

After some romantic comedies and a small role in François Truffaut's Tirez sur le pianiste ("Shoot The Pianist", 1960), she worked in England and made some films in Italy, mainly with a small budget and usually playing women of easy virtue.

Mercier needed a role which could make her a star. In 1963, when it was decided to make a movie of the sensational novel Angélique, the Marquise of the Angels, she got her chance. Many actresses were approached to play the role of Angélique. Producer Francis Cosne wanted Brigitte Bardot for the part, but she refused. Annette Stroyberg was considered next, but judged not sufficiently well-known. Catherine Deneuve was too pale, Jane Fonda spoke French with an American accent, and Virna Lisi was busy in Hollywood. The most serious actress considered was Marina Vlady. She almost signed a contract, but Mercier won the role after trying out for it: she did not appreciate this very much because she was being treated like a beginner at a time when she was already well known in Italy. At the time she was contacted to play Angélique, she had already acted in over twenty films. During the next four years she made five sequels which enjoyed great success. However the role of Angelique was both a blessing and a curse. It catapulted her to almost instant stardom, rivalling Brigitte Bardot in celebrity and popularity, but the character overshadowed all other aspects of her career. By the end of the 1960s, the names "Angélique" and Michèle Mercier were synonymous.

In 1991 she was a member of the jury at the 17th Moscow International Film Festival.[2]

Attempting to break free from the character of Angélique, Mercier played against Jean Gabin in The Thunder of God, directed by Denys de la Patellière. She then appeared with Robert Hossein in La Seconde Vérité, directed by Christian-Jaque. After this she left France and tried to restart her career in the United States, unfortunately without much success.

After a 14-year layoff, she returned in the 1998 film La Rumbera, directed by Piero Vivarelli. In 1999, having lost several million francs in a business venture, Mercier had serious financial problems. She even planned to sell the famous wedding gown of Angélique. The actress confessed in Nice-Matin: "I am ruined, I'll be obliged to sell part of my paintings, my furniture, my properties, my jewels and the costumes of Angélique". In 2002, at the Cannes Film Festival, she presented her second book of memoirs. Mercier was made a chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres on 6 March 2006.

Selected filmography

Year Title Role Director Notes
1957 Retour de manivelle Jeanne Denys de La Patellière with Daniel Gélin, Michèle Morgan and Peter Van Eyck
1960 Shoot the Piano Player Clarisse François Truffaut with Charles Aznavour, Marie Dubois and Nicole Berger...
1961 Goodbye Again Third Maisie Anatole Litvak with Ingrid Bergman, Yves Montand and Anthony Perkins
1961 Fury at Smugglers' Bay Louise Lejeune John Gilling with Peter Cushing, John Fraser and Bernard Lee
1961 The Wonders of Aladdin Princess Zaiha Henry Levin and Mario Bava with Donald O'Connor, Fausto Tozzi, Vittorio De Sica and Mario Girotti
1962 Avenger of the Seven Seas Jennifer Domenico Paolella with Richard Harrison and Roldano Lupi
1962 Roaring Years Elvira Acquamano Luigi Zampa with Nino Manfredi, Gastone Moschin and Gino Cervi
1963 Shivers in Summer Gigi Luigi Zampa with Vittorio Gassman and Philippe Leroy
1963 Black Sabbath Rosy (episode "The telephone") Mario Bava with Lidia Alfonsi
1963 Magnet of Doom Lou Jean-Pierre Melville with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Charles Vanel
1963 The Thursday Elsa Dino Risi with Walter Chiari and Umberto D'Orsi
1963 I mostri Maria
(episode "L'oppio dei popoli")
Dino Risi with Ugo Tognazzi
1964 A Global Affair Lisette Jack Arnold with Bob Hope, Barbara Bouchet and Yvonne De Carlo
1964 High Infidelity Clara (episode "Gente Moderna") Mario Monicelli
1964 Angélique, Marquise des Anges Angélique Bernard Borderie with Robert Hossein, Jean Rochefort, Claude Giraud and Giuliano Gemma
1964 Marvelous Angelique Angélique Bernard Borderie with Jean Rochefort, Claude Giraud and Giuliano Gemma
1964 Casanova 70 Noelle Mario Monicelli with Marcello Mastroianni, Virna Lisi, Marisa Mell and Marco Ferreri
1965 God's Thunder Simone Leboucher Denys de La Patellière with Jean Gabin, Robert Hossein and Lilli Palmer
1966 Angelique and the King Angélique Bernard Borderie Robert Hossein, Jacques Toja and Sami Frey
1966 The Other Truth Nathalie Neuville, Medical student Christian-Jaque with Robert Hossein
1966 How I Learned to Love Women Franziska Luciano Salce with Robert Hoffmann and Nadja Tiller
1966 Black Sun Christine Rodier Denys de La Patellière with Daniel Gélin and Valentina Cortese
1967 The Oldest Profession Brit
(episode " L'Amour à l'âge de pierre")
Franco Indovina
1967 Untamable Angelique Angélique Bernard Borderie with Robert Hossein
1968 Angelique and the Sultan Angélique Bernard Borderie with Robert Hossein and Jean-Claude Pascal
1968 Emma Hamilton Emma Lyon-Hamilton Christian-Jaque with Richard Johnson and John Mills
1969 Cemetery Without Crosses Maria Caine Robert Hossein with Robert Hossein
1969 A Golden Widow Delphine Berger Michel Audiard with Claude Rich and Roger Carel
1970 You Can't Win 'Em All Aila Peter Collinson with Tony Curtis and Charles Bronson
1971 Roma Bene Wilma Rappi Carlo Lizzani with Senta Berger, Virna Lisi, Nino Manfredi and Irene Papas
1971 Web of the Spider Elisabeth Blackwood Anthony Dawson with Anthony Franciosa and Klaus Kinski
1972 The Call of the Wild Calliope Laurent Ken Annakin with Charlton Heston
1979 Goetz von Berlichingen of the Iron Hand Adelheid von Walldorf Wolfgang Liebeneiner based on a work by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, with Raimund Harmstorf



"When people talk with me they always refer to Angélique, but I have also played fifty other women. I have tried for a long time to forget about her. But now I see her as a little sister who is always by my side and I have learned to live with her."


  1. ^ Michèle Mercier at the British Film Institute[better source needed]
  2. ^ "17th Moscow International Film Festival (1991)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 2014-04-03. Retrieved 2013-03-02.


  • Mercier, Michèle (July 1, 1979). Angélique à coeur perdu : autobiographie. Paris: Carrere. ISBN 978-2-86804-540-9.
  • Boyer, Raymond (1994). Michèle Mercier, merveilleuse Angélique. Paris: TF1 Editions. ISBN 978-2-87761-064-3.
  • Mercier, Michèle; Henry-Jean Servat (May 21, 2002). Je ne suis pas Angélique. Denoël. ISBN 978-2-207-25329-8.