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Annabella was born Suzanne Georgette Charpentier on July 14th, in the early part of the twentieth century,
La Varenne Saint Hilaire, Val-de-Marne, France. Sources vary on the year of her birth. According to some of the earliest magazine articles written during the late 1930's, she was born in 1913. Other sources during the 1940's and later, listed her birth year as 1909. Still others sources, including a newspaper article printed in 1939 (at the time of her wedding to Tyrone Power), listed her as being nine years older than Ty. That would be more consistent with the information on the Internet Broadway Data Base, which lists her birth date as July 14, 1904.
A beautiful smile!
She became an important star of French movies in the 1930's. She made her film debut in Napoléon in 1927, in a minor part. She followed up with another small part in Maldone in 1928. After that, she was on her way to major stardom in French films. 1929 saw her as leading lady in La Barcarolle d'amour, which co-starred Charles Boyer, who would come to America and become a major star of Hollywood movies. Before either left for Hollywood, however, they would co-star in two more films together, 1933's La Bataille and 1934's Caravane. Her career in Europe continued to gain steam and, in 1937, she co-starred with Henry Fonda in Wings of the Morning, a film made by 20th Century-Fox's British company. She came to America in 1938, where she made her first 20th Century-Fox American film, The Baroness and the Butler, with William Powell. She was then given the role of Toni in Suez, where she and Tyrone Power first became romantically involved.
Ty and Annabella with Don Ameche and Pat Boyer
The studio was alarmed at how quickly the romance became serious, worrying that marriage might affect their top matinee idol's box-office appeal. Further, Annabella was not viewed as a good prospective wife for Ty. The studio, his mom, and his friends strongly urged him to not marry her. After all, she had been married three times and was the mother of a young girl. She was currently married to Jean Murat, an older French movie star whom she had married in 1931. When the filming of Suez was complete, Annabella returned to France to obtain a divorce from Murat.
Though the studio pressure was on to squelch the romance, Tyrone was a young man in love. On April 23, 1939, Ty and Annabella were married in the garden of good friend, Charles Boyer. His wife was matron of honor, while Ty's old friend and co-star, Don Ameche, was best man. The two honeymooned in Rome. Within a few months, she and Ty had flown to Europe and had managed to bring her mom back to live at their home, while her father and brother remained behind. A couple weeks later, Annabella made a return trip to bring her daughter, Annie, back from France to live with them.
Annabella, Ty, Annie
By outward appearances, Ty and Annabella were a very happy couple. They were very much in love, at least for a time. However, both Ty and Annabella talked of difficulties in their marriage before he joined the Marines. According to a
Movieland, March 1948 interview with her, she had become increasingly agitated because of the cloud hanging over her family in France with the war in Europe. She explained that she became increasingly upset and burdened Ty, and that, while he tried to be comforting to her, it did wear him down. Ty tried to help her take her mind off her worries, and also to help her fulfill her desire to act, by performing the radio shows, The Rage of Manhattan, on November 18, 1940, and Seventh Heaven, on December 15, 1940. In August 1941, they did the stage play, Liliom, for two weeks to sold-out crowds at The Country Playhouse, Westport, Connecticut. They also performed on radio Blood and Sand in October.
Besides the troubles that Annabella explained with her wartime nerves, there was also the problem of Ty's desperate desire to have a child in addition to Annabella's daughter, whom he had adopted. Annabella was not able to give him a child, and this was a source of strain in the marriage. Then, too, there was talk about Annabella becoming increasingly unhappy over having given up her career when she married Ty. A July 1941 Photoplay with Movie Mirror gives insights as to how both felt about a woman's career.
On December 7, 1941, the news of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor set Ty to thinking of military service.
By the spring of 1942, Annabella began a tour of the country in the stage play, Blithe Spirit, spending about six months in Chicago with the play. Ty would visit her when he could, but, of course, he was being kept very busy with his movie obligations for 20th Century-Fox. He listed in the Marines in August 1942 and reported for duty the following January.
May 1943 - Ty's movie career is put on hold while he serves in the U.S.M.C.
While Ty was becoming a Marine, Annabella resumed her acting career. She returned to making movies, resuming a career that she'd abandoned to devote time to her marriage. In 1943, she had two movies released: Tonight We Raid Calais, released in March and Bomber's Moon, released in July. She was in a long-running Broadway play, Jacobowsky and the Colonel, which opened March 14, 1944. While on leave, Ty did go to New York to visit her.
November 1945 - returning home!
In August, 1944, after Paris was liberated, Annabella became eager to see her family again.
She joined the USO, as star of Blithe Spirit which went to Europe. While in Italy, she boarded a military plane to Paris, where she spent several weeks with them before re-joining her Blithe Spirit
troupe. A few months later, Ty was shipped to the Pacific, where he remained until the war was over.
a second honeymoon
Soon after Ty's return from the war, he and Annabella went to Canada on a second honeymoon. Ty had hoped the trip would help repair their marriage. It was not to be. To further complicate their lives, a tragic event occurred in their home on May 20, 1946. They were hosting a party in their home, when someone suggested that they play a "hide n' seek" type game. During the game, David Niven's pretty new wife, Primula, opened a door, thinking it was to a closet. Instead, it lead to the basement, and, in the darkness, she tumbled down the stairs. She died the following day. A few months later, against Ty's wishes, Annabella took a part in the Broadway play, No Exit, and left in September to prepare for her starring role. The play was very much a success, running from November 26, 1946 - December 21, 1946, but her marriage crumbled. In October, she made a formal announcement of their separation, citing "incompatibility of careers". The months dragged by, with Annabella not giving Ty his freedom. The divorce between Ty and Annabella became final on January 27, 1949, the day of his wedding to Linda Christian.
with Richard Conte, in 1947's 13 Rue Madeleine
Shortly after her separation from Ty, Annabella made an attempt to resume her film career with 20th Century-Fox. She had been in 13 Rue Madeleine , which starred James Cagney, with her in the
female lead role. The movie, her last at 20th Century-Fox, was released January 15, 1947. She had movies yet to film under her contract, and she set up a meeting with Darryl F. Zanuck to discuss her possible movie roles. Apparently the meeting did not go well for her, and she left for France to attempt to resume her career there. She made a few movies in France, but her career never really got off the ground again.
Ty and Annabella did remain friends, and he invited her to Madrid, Spain, where they visited a week or so before his death on the set of Solomon and Sheba on November 15, 1958. She commented about his death, "It's an unbelievable tragedy for all of us who knew and loved him -- but most of all a tragedy for Ty. He was looking forward to what he wanted most in the world -- a son." On September 18, 1996, Annabella died of a heart attack in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. She was born at Passe Cemetery, Paris.
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