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Florelle en 1939 (Studio Harcourt).jpg
Florelle in 1939
Odette Élisa Joséphine Marguerite Rousseau

(1898-08-09)9 August 1898
Died28 September 1974(1974-09-28) (aged 76)
La Roche-sur-Yon, Vendée, France
  • Actress
  • singer
Years active1911–1956
Marcel Foucret
(m. 1934;div. 1944)

Florelle (born Odette Élisa Joséphine Marguerite Rousseau, 9 August 1898 – 28 September 1974) was a French soprano singer and actress. She gained fame as Polly Peachum in the French film The Threepenny Opera , after which she had numerous other film roles. In the 1940s, she retired from the stage, but continued to make film appearances during the war. [1]


Early life

She was born as Odette Élisa Joséphine Marguerite Rousseau on 9 August 1898 in Les Sables-d'Olonne, Vendée. She came from a wealthy family living in the district of La Chaume, the oldest in the town of Sables-d'Olonne. Her father, an employee of the town hall, left his job to go into business and the family came to live in Paris; her mother worked at the café La Cigale.


Odette began her stage career at the age of 13, singing at the Théâtre de l'Ambigu-Comique and the Moulin Rouge. She is notably the partner of Raimu beginning in a sketch entitled "Le Marseillais et la Parigote". She worked in different establishments, then, in 1914, left for her first tour abroad with the troupe of "L'Européen"; It was then that she adopted the pseudonym of Florelle, named after a singer in the troupe, Jean Flor. The tour was interrupted at the beginning of August in Vienna, Austria, by the outbreak of World War I.

After the war, she was noticed by Maurice Chevalier, with whom she participated in three films in the early 1920s. Florelle nevertheless remained attached to the music hall; in 1925, she was chosen as an understudy for Mistinguett and as such was the leader of the Moulin-Rouge review "This is Paris" in a tour of South America. Back in Paris, she conducted a second version of "This is Paris" from 1927; in 1928–29, she again toured internationally in Europe; It was then that she was noticed by the Austrian filmmaker Georg Wilhelm Pabst.

During the 1930s, she devoted herself a lot to the cinema, where her activity was intense from 1930 to 1936; after L'Opéra de quat'sous , she toured again with Pabst ( L'Atlantide ), but also with Robert Siodmak ( Tumultes ), Raymond Bernard ( Les Misérables ), Fritz Lang ( Liliom ) and Jean Renoir ( The Crime of Monsieur Lange ). On stage, in 1934 she played the title role of the musical Marie Galante by Jacques Deval, in which she found the music of Kurt Weill, but which does not meet with success. She records several discs, whether or not related to the films she was filming.

Florelle's career subsequently declined: with her only notable post-war film was Gervaise (1956) by René Clément.


She lived for a few years running a café in Sables-d'Olonne. She returned to Paris for a while, then returned to Les Sables, living until her death in La Roche-sur-Yon, Vendée, at age 76 in a certain oblivion and, it seems, in poverty.

Selected filmography

1912 The Mask of Horror Abel Gance Credited as Mlle Rousseau
1930 The Prosecutor Hallers Agnès Robert Wiene
Love Songs Robert Florey Alternative-language version of the German film
My Wife's Teacher
1931 Venetian Nights Pierre Billon
Robert Wiene
French-language version of the film
The Love Express
My Aunt from Honfleur Albertine André Gillois
The Threepenny Opera Polly Peachum G. W. Pabst French-language version
About an Inquest Erna Kabisch Henri Chomette
Robert Siodmak
French-language version of the film Inquest
Montmartre Irène Raymond Bernard
1932 The Nude Woman Lolette Jean-Paul Paulin
The Improvised Son Maud René Guissart
The Wonderful Day Gladys Yves Mirande
Robert Wyler
Remake of the 1929 silent film of the same title
Monsieur, Madame and Bibi Anne Weber Jean Boyer
Max Neufeld
French-language version of the German film
A Bit of Love
1933 La dame de chez Maxim's La Môme Crevette Alexander Korda French-language version of the film
The Girl from Maxim's
1934 Les Misérables Fantine Raymond Bernard
The Last Night Evelyne Ebert Jacques de Casembroot
1936 The Crime of Monsieur Lange Valentine Cardès Jean Renoir
1952 Three Women André Michel
1956 Blood to the Head Sidonie Vauquier Gilles Grangier
Gervaise Maman Coupeau René Clément Final film

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  1. O'Connor, Patrick (2001). "Florelle, Odette". In Sadie, Stanley; Tyrrell, John (eds.). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd ed.). London: Macmillan.