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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, but this is an incorrect date, according to most other sources. Other sources during the 1940's and later, listed her birth year as 1909. A few sources list her date as July 14, 1904.
In 1927, she made her film debut in a small part in the French film, Napoléon. Soon she was one of the most important leading ladies in France, most often taking top billing in movies. In the late 1930’s she began making films in Britain.
She married at a young age and had a child. Following the divorce, she married French actor Jean Murat, a noted French star, in 1931. Murat was more than twenty years older than Annabella. As they drifted apart in their marriage, they remained friends, but she and Murat had the understanding that, should either want a divorce, it would be an amicable parting.
In 1938, she came to America, now under contract to 20th Century Fox. In 1938, during filming of her second movie in America, Suez, she was very much attracted to one of Hollywood’s handsomest and most eligible bachelors, Tyrone Power, who starred in the movie. The two had a whirlwind romance, very much disapproved of by their studio, Tyrone’s mother, and his friends. To squelch the romance, Darryl F. Zanuck, movie mogul at 20th Century-Fox, had offered her a multi-movie deal, with foreign shooting. She declined, and upon completion of Suez, Annabella returned to France to get her divorce from Murat.
On April 23, 1939,
Annabella married Tyrone Power 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, Annabella and Tyrone 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. Tyrone would adopt her daughter.
By outward appearances, Ty and Annabella were a very happy couple. Many factors contributed to the breakup of their marriage. Angry with her for marrying his top box office star, Darryl F. Zanuck, despite Annabella’s contract with 20th Century-Fox, did not cast her in movies. Neither was she loaned out to other studios. This put a strain on their marriage because Annabella, an extremely talented actress, had not lost the acting bug. She tried to satisfy her need for acting by doing radio shows and stage plays. One play, performed in Chicago, took her away from her husband for close to six months. For any young couple, this type of separation puts a strain on the marriage. In addition to this problem, the Powers had to deal with the stress of war. The war began for Annabella and Tyrone much earlier than it did for most Americans because Annabella still had family in France. As the war clouds gathered over France, she became increasingly agitated about her father and brother, who were still there. Her fears for family safety came true when her brother was shot and killed by the Nazis.
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.
While Ty was becoming a Marine, Annabella returned to making movies. In 1943, she had two movies released: Tonight We Raid Calais, released in March and Bomber's Moon, released in July. In addition to the movies, she was in a long-running Broadway play, Jacobowsky and the Colonel, which opened March 14, 1944.
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, Tyrone Power was shipped to the Pacific, where he remained until the war was over.
Soon after Ty's return from the war, Annabella and Ty went to Canada on a second honeymoon, hoping to 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".
Annabella was hoping that Darryl F. Zanuck would give her good movie roles to finish out her contract with 20th Century-Fox. He gave her the female lead in the movie, 13 Rue Madeleine , which starred James Cagney. The movie, released January 15, 1947, was a good enough movie but her character had little screen time, and the role did not show her to best advantage. 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.
Annabella's divorce from Tyrone Power became final on January 27, 1949. Despite their divorce, they remained very good friends. In late 1958, she visited her ex-husband, at his invitation, in Madrid, Spain, where he was filming Solomon and Sheba. On November 15, 1958, she received the shocking news of his death. 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." Years later, Annabella would comment that she never had one regret about her marriage to Tyrone Power. She said that she had only precious memories about their life together and that it was the happiest time of her life. She never remarried. On September 18, 1996, Annabella died of a heart attack in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France.
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