ABOVE: Denise Darcel in Vera Cruz, with Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster
I remember seeing a TV show back in the 1990's about an American soldier named George Simpson Jr. who had a brief romance with a woman named Denise Billecard while stationed in her native France during World War 2. After the war, she became a cabaret singer who caught the attention of Hollywood, and had a movie career under the name of Denise Darcel. Her first film of real importance was William Wellman's box-office hit Battleground (1949), in which she had a tiny supporting role. The exotic beauty had perhaps her most substantial part in Robert Aldrich's Vera Cruz (1954) as a French countess who is escorted through war-torn Mexico by Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper. After her final film, Seven Women From Hell, in 1961, Ms. Darcel became an exotic dancer, and then returned to the cabaret circuit. In 1990, the divorced entertainer was invited by a friend to a GI reunion, and just happened to rub elbows with a widowed, ex-lieutenant colonel who remarked on her French accent, and mentioned that he had had a romance with a French girl named Denise Billecard 45 years earlier. Upon realizing each other's identity, the pair resumed their romance and were married a few months later.
Sometimes life really is like a plot from a movie.