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Capucine, 57; Ex-Actress, Paris Model

March 21, 1990|BURT A. FOLKART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Capucine, the former Paris fashion model of whom George Cukor once said "the camera has a love affair with her face," jumped to her death from her eighth-floor apartment in Lausanne, Swiss police reported Tuesday.

Police Inspector Claude Zbinden told the Associated Press that the former film actress, known for her classic features and lithe figure, died Saturday.

The Lausanne newspaper Le Matin said that she had been living alone with three cats and quoted a friend as saying she had been suffering from depression.

Neighbors said she hardly ever left her apartment in the building where actor Yul Brynner lived occasionally before his death in 1985.

Born in Toulon, the 57-year-old Capucine--whose films included "Song Without End" opposite Dirk Bogarde and "The Pink Panther" opposite Peter Sellers--was modeling for Dior and Givenchy in Paris when she came to the United States in the late 1950s.

In Los Angeles she studied drama under Gregory Ratoff and was tested by Columbia, which offered her the role of Princess Carolyne in the film-biography "Song Without End" in which Bogarde portrayed composer Franz Liszt.

Charles Vidor and Cukor directed the picture, which drew routine notices but Capucine's seeming shyness and on-screen aloofness appealed to audiences and for a time she was heralded as a star in the tradition of Greta Garbo.

Like Garbo she disdained the hoopla and interviews that film work demanded but unlike Garbo she made only a few more routine pictures before returning to Europe.

Although thought of as a "wooden" beauty, in the 1964 "Panther," as the wife of the maladroit Inspector Clouseau, she was hilariously noncommittal as Sellers made various unsuccessful attempts to seduce his own mate. There was a similar relationship between them the following year in "What's New Pussycat?" where Sellers was a crazy psychiatrist drawn to her like a moth to a flame.

Born Germaine Lefebvre, she told The Times in a 1960 interview that she had taken her professional name from the French word for a flower--nasturtium.

Her other American pictures included "North to Alaska," "A Walk on the Wild Side," "The Honey Pot" and "Satyricon." She also appeared in several British and French films.

She was on American TV screens in "Martin Eden" and again in the miniseries "Sins," with Joan Collins. More recently she appeared on television in France in "Quartier Negre."

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