Yvonne Furneaux was a beautiful French-English actress active in European films, including many Italian productions, throughout the 1950's and 60's, with a one-off comeback appearance in the 80's.
She was born Elisabeth Yvonne Scatcherd on May 11th 1926 in Roubaix, France, to English parents who were living in France for work at the time. She had an older sister named Jeanne.
Her family returned to England before the outbreak of World War II and Yvonne studied modern languages at Oxford University, where she became fluent in English, French and Italian. Following her graduation she enrolled in London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), from which she graduated in 1951 at the age of 24.
She adopted her mother's maiden name, "Furneaux", as her professional name and appeared in a number of theatrical productions, including roles in Shakespeare's Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew. In 1952 she made her first film appearances and the following year she came to public attention with roles in several high-profile productions, The Beggar's Opera starring Laurence Olivier and The Master of Ballantrae with Errol Flynn and scored her first leading role in The House of the Arrow.
She worked steadily, mostly in leading roles, for the next 18 years, predominantly in Italian or British productions, but also in films shot in France, Spain and Germany. She appeared in an eclectic selection of films including a number of bonafide art-house and cult classics, working with directors such as Fellini, Antonioni, Polanski, Chabrol, Dino Risi and Peter Brook. She also played leading roles in a number of peplum and historical films shot in Italy, earning her place as one of our "divas".
In 1961 she met Jacques Natteau, who was the cinematographer on her film Il conte di Montecristo and they were married the following year - they remained married until his death in 2007. The couple bought a castle in Poggio Catino, northeast of Rome, which they spent the next 5 years restoring. In 1969 she gave birth to a son, Nicholas, and 2 years later retired from the screen, presumably to raise her family.
She made a one-off "comeback" in 1984 in the horror-comedy Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie, which proved to be her final screen appearance.
At the time of writing Yvonne is still alive, aged 93, and was reported to be living in Lousanne, Switzerland as of 2005.
The bulk of her biographical details come from a biography on the Aenigma website and are corroborated by various other online sources.
- The Beggar's Opera ... Jenny Diver (credited)
- The Genie ... Suzie (poster credit - role unconfirmed)
- The House of the Arrow ... Betty Harlow (credited)
- The Master of Ballantrae ... Jessie Brown (credited)
- Il maestro di Don Giovanni ... Courtier (uncredited - uncertain identification)
- Cross Channel ... Jacqueline Moreau (poster credit - role unconfirmed)
- Il principe dalla maschera rossa ... Laura (credited)
- Le amiche ... Momina De Stefani (credited)
- The Scarlet Pimpernel (TV series) Ep. 1: "The Hostage" ... Suzanne De Fleury (credited)
- The Dark Avenger ... Marie (credited)
- Lisbon ... Maria Madalena Massenet (credited)
- Carta al cielo ... role? (poster credit)
- Lui, lei e il nonno ... Helen (credited)
- The Mummy ... Isobel Banning / Princess Ananka (credited)
- A noi piace freddo...! ... Rosalina (credited)
- Il carro armato dell'8 settembre ... role? (poster credit)
- La dolce vita ... Emma (credited)
- Via Margutta ... Marta (credited)
- Caccia all'uomo ... Maria (credited as "Yvonne Fourneaux")
- Il conte di Montecristo ... Mercédès (credited)
- I lancieri neri ... Jassa (credited)
- Il criminale ... Angela (credited)
- I 4 tassisti ... Corinna (credited)
- Io Semiramide ... Semiramide (credited)
- Le meurtrier ... Clara Saccard (credited)
- I raggi mortali del Dr. Mabuse ... Gilda Larsen (credited as "Yvonne Fourneaux")
- Il leone di Tebe ... Helen of Troy (credited)
- Danger Man (TV series) Season 2, ep. 3: "A Very Dangerous Game" ... Lisa Lee (credited)
- Repulsion ... Helen (credited)
- The Baron (TV series) Eps. 6, 7 ... Selina Travis (credited)
- Le scandale ... Christine Belling (credited)
- In nome del popolo italiano ... Lavinia Santenocito (credited)
- Versuchung im Sommerwind ... Claudia Bonhard (poster credit - role unconfirmed)
- Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie ... Matilda "Tillie" Frankenstein (credited)
Filmography to check
- Affair in Monte Carlo (1952) IMDb as Henriette. I looked through this film but while the character of Henriette is mentioned I wasn't able to find Yvonne. Maybe someone else will have more luck. Also known as 24 Hours of a Woman's Life.
- Meet Me Tonight (1952) IMDb as Elena, in the segment "Ways and Means".
- Adventure Theater (1954 or 1956) Ep. 2: "The Javanese Dagger". IMDb as Vanessa, Tresall's 2nd wife.
- The Three Princes (1954 TV movie) IMDb as Princess Yasmin.
- Nom-de-Plume (1956 TV series) Ep. 6: "The Courtesan". IMDb as The Countess.
- ITV Play of the Week (1957 TV series) Season 2, ep. 50: "The Tigress on the Hearth". IMDb as Kathi Lutterwell.
- Hereward the Wake (1965 TV series) Eps. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16. IMDb as Torfrida.
- The Man Who Never Was (1966 TV series) Ep. 7: "A Little Ignorance". IMDb as Paula.
- The Last of the Powerseekers (1969 TV movie) IMDb as Miss Rabier.