Etchika Choureau, Halloween Witch, 1958
Some of my readers will have seen this press photo before. It features Etchika Choureau (i.e., Jeannine Verret, b. 1929), a beautiful, green-eyed, sometimes blonde-haired, French actress who had a short career in cinema in the 50s.
According to the French Wikipédia and this film-star postcard blog, her first three films appeared in 1953 (when she was 24), one of which earned her an award for the “Most Promising Actress.” Verret appeared in nine other films until 1957, and then tried to launch a career in Hollywood, appearing in two war movies in 1958 (at 29). Her career came to a halt during her affair with the Crown Prince of Morocco. After Hassan II’s accession to power in 1961—and the end of their affair—she tried unsuccessfully to revive her career, retiring permanently in 1966.
I highlight Verret’s age in 1953 and 1958 because this press photo is undated. I think the photo is more likely to date from 1958 (he first appearance in Hollywood) than 1953 (her first appearance on film)—it is certainly consistent with the Hollywood practice of issuing press photo of new-to-screen starlets—and she looks closer to 29 than 24 (as she is in this picture). The Halloween theme appears to be the clincher, but it is possible that a photo was produced for the US distribution of one of her earlier films, and the costume she is wearing dates to the late 40s/early 50s (see below). Still, on balance, I vote for 1958.
As I mentioned at the start, this photo appears in many places online (Google “Etchika Choureau” + “Halloween” or “witch” and you will see what I mean). This is at least partly because reproductions of the image regularly appear on eBay. Like most reproductions, the quality of the image is low, so I was particularly pleased to get an original so I could post a cleaner image.
Before I could do this post, somebody published online a “colourised” version of the image (below). It appears on Retrogasm’s tumblr page (here), without acknowledgment, but that doesn’t mean they produced the image: lots of my images appear on tumblr, without acknowledgment, on the pages of thieving “feral rats” (see here for an explanation). Whoever did the colourising: nice work! Unfortunately, though, they got the colours wrong.
If you look closely at Verret’s top, you will notice that it is one that has appeared regularly on this blog. It is the same top worn by Penny Edward, Barbara Bates, Martha Vickers and Gale Robbins! (Details here and here.) And, as you can see in the composite image below, when the photo of Penny Edward and Barbara Bates appeared on the cover of V [no. 296] for 4 June 1950, it was coloured red, not blue.