Madeleing LeBeau died in May. At ninety-two, she was the last surviving member of the cast of the 1942 film Casablanca.
LeBeau played Rick’s spurned girlfriend, Yvonne. She was just nineteen years old at the time.
LeBeau will always be remembered for Yvonne’s stirring response to the French national anthem, and her cry of “Vive la France” at the end of the song. For the time being, Rick had been pushed out of her mind.
What isn’t widely known is that Madeleine LeBeau’s tears in that scene were real.
LeBeau had just lived through a real life escape from the Nazis. She and her husband, actor Marcel Dalio, had fled Paris just hours before the invasion. They were both Jews.
Dalio’s face had been used in Nazi posters to identify Jewish-looking features.
Dalio was also in the cast of Casablanca. He played Emil the croupier in Rick’s illegal casino. (Colorized version) –
French Jews are frightened again, seventy-five years later. As are Bulgarians, and much of Europe.
At times like these, we need to reflect on the character Yvonne’s passionate singing of her national anthem.
We need to remember why Madeleine’s tears were real.