Saturday, February 11, 2017

28 Days Of Black Women In Horror: Marpessa Dawn

Marpessa Dawn (1934-2008)

The Woman Eater (1958)

Marpessa Dawn is also known as Gypsy Marpessa Dawn Menor and was an American-born Black, Filipino, and French actress, singer, and dancer, best remembered for her role in the film Black Orpheus (1959). Born on a farm near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she worked as a laboratory technician in New York before migrating to Europe as a teenager. She began acting in England with some minor TV roles. Then, in 1953, she relocated to France and while occasionally working as a governess also sang and danced in nightclubs where she met director Marcel Camus. At the age of 24 she won the role of "Eurydice" in his film Black Orpheus. The film won the Palme d'Or at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival and the 1960 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. She married Camus, but divorced him soon after and married Belgian actor Eric Vander. Considered a great beauty, she was featured in November 1959 by Ebony and has been hailed as "one of Ebony magazine's prettiest cover girls, along with the likes of Dorothy Dandridge, Halle Berry, Vanessa Williams and Lena Horne."

Dawn remained in Europe working in French films and television. She also had several theatrical parts, including starring in Chérie Noire, a stage comedy that toured France, Belgium, Switzerland, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, and Le Jardin des délices (The Garden of Delights), by Fernando Arrabal with Delphine Seyrig. She appeared in a 2005 documentary about Vinicius de Moraes, who wrote the original play from which Black Orpheus was adapted. She and her fellow lead from that film, Brazilian actor Breno Mello, died just 42 days apart in 2008, both from heart attacks. She was 74 years old and at the time of her death in Paris, survived by five children and four grandchildren. (Source)

About The Woman Eater (1958)

A mad scientist captures women and feeds them to a flesh-eating tree, which in turn gives him a serum that helps bring the dead back to life. (from imdb)

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