Born Suzanne Georgette Charpentier in La Varenne Saint Hilaire, Val-de-Marne, France. Annabella’s chance to enter films came when her father entertained a film producer who gave her a small part in Napoléon in 1927. It was not until she starred in Le Million that she was acclaimed and over the following decade established herself as one of France’s most popular cinema actresses. In 1936 she won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival for Veille d’armes (1935).
She was cast as the female lead in the British-made film Wings of the Morning (1937) opposite Henry Fonda. Under contract to 20th Century Fox, she traveled to America and appeared in Suez (1938) with Loretta Young and Tyrone Power. Her romance with Power was widely reported by movie magazines of the day. Darryl Zanuck, movie mogul at 20th Century-Fox, did not want his matinee idol married. He offered Annabella a multi-movie deal that would take her overseas. She refused to leave Power, and on completion of Suez, she returned to France to obtain a divorce from her then-husband, Jean Murat. She and Power married on 23 April 1939. The two honeymooned in Rome. Within a few months, Annabella and Power had again flown to Europe to bring Annabella’s mother back to live in their home, while her father and brother remained behind. Her brother was ultimately shot and killed by the Nazis. Annabella made a return trip to bring her daughter, Anne, back from France to live with them. Power adopted Anne before leaving for the service. Anne Power later married actor Oskar Werner.
Darryl F. Zanuck, angry with her for marrying his top box office star did not cast her in movies despite Annabella’s contract with 20th Century-Fox. Neither was she loaned out to other studios. She and Power appeared together in the play Liliom in New Haven, Connecticut. While Power was away at war, Annabella appeared in Blithe Spirit in Chicago. On Broadway, she received excellent notices for her work in Jacobowsky and the Colonel, directed by Elia Kazan, in 1944. Annabella also embarked on an affair with author Roald Dahl; she had refused to give Power a divorce to marry Judy Garland, and her marriage was strained. Dahl told his wife, Liccy, that it was an intense and passionate relationship, during which Dahl learned a lot about sex from the actress.
When Power returned from the war, the couple decided to try to make their marriage work once again. Annabella again worked in films, playing the female lead in 13 Rue Madeleine(1947) opposite James Cagney. She and Power divorced in 1948, and Annabella returned to France. In 1952 she made her final film, and retired after a 1954 TV appearance.
Annabella and Tyrone Power remained very close, and after his divorce from Linda Christian, he attempted to reconcile with her, confessing that in giving her up, he had made a terrible mistake. However, Annabella refused. Power informed her that he would not take the elevator to leave her apartment, but the stairs, in case she changed her mind and called him back. She did not.
Annabella died from a heart attack at Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, aged 89, and was interred in Passy Cemetery.
- July, 14, 1907
- La Varenne Saint Hilaire, Val-de-Marne, France
- September, 18, 1996
- Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
- Cimetiere de Passy
- Paris, France