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This Day in WWII 6 January 1940 - 1945

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A&PSupermarketAd-Jan1943.jpgA&P Super Market Ad - January 1943

 

1940: Finnish pilot Lt. Sarvanto, flying a Fokker, shoots down six out of seven Russian SB-2 bombers in just 5 minutes. The Russian 44th Division's commander General Vinogradov, authorizes the remainder of his troops to try escape back to Russian lines.

 

Michele%20Mercier1.jpg *Michèle Mercier

 

1941: President Franklin D. Roosevelt asks Congress to support the Lend-lease Bill to help supply the Allies.

 

1941: In his annual message to Congress, President Roosevelt announces the "Five Freedoms".

 

Michele%20Mercier2.jpg Michèle Mercier

 

1941: Churchill demands that troops be released from Wavell's offensive and sent to Greece.

 

1941: The Luftwaffe launches its first attacks against British convoys bound for Malta in the Mediterranean.

 

Michele%20Mercier3.jpg Michèle Mercier

 

1942: Roosevelt announces that US forces are to be based in UK.

 

1942: In Moscow, the Russian Foreign Minister denounces German atrocities in occupied Russia, where in Kiev alone 52,000 people have been massacred. 'The Soviet Union will never forget or forgive'.

 

1942: Rommel's battered forces reach the Tripolitanian frontier having evaded all British attempts to cut them off.

 

BFGoodrichAd-Jan1944.jpg B.F. Goodrich Ad - January 1944

 

1944: The allies announce that jet-propelled aircraft will soon to be in production.

 

1944: The Air Ministry says that Bomber Command dropped 157,000 tons of bombs on Germany in 1943, while the Luftwaffe dropped only 2,400 tons on Britain.

 

1944: The Red Army crosses the 1939 Polish frontier after a 170-mile advance in just two weeks.

 

Michele%20Mercier4.jpg Michèle Mercier

 

1945: The ban on dancing is lifted in Finland, where it had been illegal to dance during wartime.

 

1945: Boeing B-29 bombers in the Pacific strike new blows on Tokyo and Nanking.

 

Michele%20Mercier5.jpg Michèle Mercier

*The daughter of a French pharmacist father and an Italian mother, Michèle Mercier, was born on January 1, 1939 as Jocelyne Yvonne Renée Mercier in Nice, France. She 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 was soon advanced to soloist in the Nice Opéra. At 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 - which 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, mainly small-budget, films in Italy, usually playing women of easy virtue.

 

She needed a role which could make her a star. It was in 1963, when it was decided to make a movie of the sensational novel "Angélique", that Michèle got her chance. Many actresses were approached to play the role of Angélique. Producer Francis Cosne wanted Brigitte Bardot for the part. 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 since 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 astonishing success. However the role of Angélique, "the Marquise of the Angels", was both a blessing and a curse. It catapulted her to almost instant stardom, rivaling Brigitte Bardot in celebrity and popularity, but the character of Angélique overshadowed all other aspects of her career. By the end of the 1960s, the names Angélique and Michèle Mercier were synonymous.

Michele%20Mercier6.jpg Michèle Mercier

Attempting to break free from the character Michèle 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. Mercier then left France and tried to re-start her career in the United States, unfortunately without much success.

 

After 14-year layoff she returned in the 1998 film "La Rumbera", directed by Piero Vivarelli. In 1999, having been swindled out of 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 the 6th of March 2006.

She married the assistant-director André Smagghe in 1961. Sadly he turned out to be alcoholic who was eventually hospitalized. They divorced in 1965. After a long relationship she married the well-known racing driver Claude Bourillot in 1970, but he disappeared one day with all her jewels and money leaving her penniless. They divorced in 1976. Her other relationships were also uniformly disastrous. She claimed that her co-star Vittorio Gassman once tried to rape her, and an Italian Prince N. refused to marry her after many years of courtship. She was also pursued by Bettino Craxi and Silvio Berlusconi.

 

TRIVIA:

Spouse:

Claude Bourillot (1968 - 1982) (divorced)

André Smagghe (5 August 1961 - 1967) (divorced)

BuickAd-Jan1945.jpg Buick Ad - January 1945

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