Madeleine LeBeau, the French actress who fled Nazi Europe for Hollywood, died this month in Spain at the age of 92. She is best remembered for playing the role of Humphrey Bogart’s jilted mistress, Yvonne, in the Oscar-winning 1942 classic, Casablanca.
This is sad news especially because she was the last surviving castmember. Her tear-soaked face as the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, plays was not just a memorable scene in a film that was full of compelling portrayals but also became a defining image of the resistance during the Second World War.
She was part of a stellar cast, headlined by Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart, who created a timeless tale of love and intrigue. Casablanca did not only earn an enduring place in the hearts of cinema-lovers at the time but continues to enthral and beguile new audiences who were born decades after it was made. It’s no wonder the film occupies an enormous cultural space.