Bella Darvi  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Bella Darvi (October 23, 1928 – September 11, 1971) was a Polish-born French actress.


Darvi was born Bayla Wegier to Chaym Wegier, a baker, and his wife, Chaya (née Zygelbaum). She had three brothers, Robert, Jacques Wegier, Jean-Isidore, and a sister, Sura. Robert died in a concentration camp.

Jailed by the Nazis during World War II, she was released in 1943. She married a businessman, Alban Cavalcade, on October 7, 1950 and traveled with him to Monaco. Discovered in Paris by the wife of mogul Darryl Zanuck. In 1952, she divorced Cavalcade, and moved into the Zanuck home. In August 1953, she signed a contract with Zanuck, who changed her name to Bella Darvi, Darvi a combination of the first names of Zanuck and his wife, Virginia. Eventually, she became Zanuck's mistress, although she reportedly dated other men including Robert Stack and Brad Dexter.

She was Richard Widmark's love interest in Sam Fuller's 1954 film Hell and High Water, but is probably best known for the role of Nefer, the seductive Babylonian courtesan, in The Egyptian. Her performance, stymied by her thick accent and a lisp, was roundly panned by the critics.

Zanuck left his wife for Darvi, but left her when he discovered that she was a lesbian or at least bisexual, unthinkable at the time. (She later very publicly dated women, as well as men.) Despite liaisons with extremely wealthy men, she was unable to establish a permanent relationship or to curb her gambling habit. Zanuck was still paying off her debts as late as 1970. On November 13, 1960, Darvi married Claude Rouas, a restaurant waiter, in Las Vegas; the marriage was annulled less than a year later.


Darvi committed suicide, after several failed attempts, in Monte Carlo by gas. Her body remained undiscovered for more than a week.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Bella Darvi" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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