Friday, October 29, 2010
A Salute to Simone Silva
Let's hear it for the Egyptian-born model and actress Simone Silva. Silva appeared as a nude model in numerous pin-up magazines in the 1940s and 50s, then got her big acting break with a film called Lady Godiva Rides Again. She appeared in fifteen films between 1950 and 1956, and did the short-lived TV series The Gay Cavalier in 1957, the year she unexpectedly died of a stroke.
Simone is best known today not for her film work, but for these photographs with Robert Mitchum taken at the Cannes film festival in 1954, which caused a worldwide scandal. I'm not sure why exactly - I mean, come on, even for 1954, these photographs are rather tame. And heck, like many actresses, she had been posing for cheesecake nudes for years already.
I guess no one had actually unfurled their girl-glands in broad daylight at Cannes up to that point. Nowadays, if you wanna freak people out at Cannes, you have to enter a film that glorifies graphic sexual mutilation. Oh, but of course, that's "art" - and Simone's cheerful exhibitionism is just, well, just that.
Mitchum, who was no stranger to scandal (after his marijuana arrest in 1948, which would have snuffed a lesser man's career, he was utterly unrepentant) weathered it just fine, but not Simone Silva. She was kicked out of the Festival, and when she got back to America, she was deported back to France and fired by the director of a film she had been contracted to do.
The negative publicity from the photo romp pretty much spelled the end of her Hollywood dreams, or so the official version of history holds. But if you stop to think about it, Marilyn Monroe posed stark naked all the time and she was very in-your-face about it - and her career went just fine. No, I think Simone's problem is just that the world wasn't ready for her. We're ready for you now, Simone - come on back.
- - JSH