Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Real 'Gigi'

Yola Letellier

Leslie Caron as "Gigi"

 The character of Gigi was based upon Yola Letellier. From Wikipedia:

Yola Letellier (born Yvonne Henriquet (also spelled Henriquez or Henriques), c. 1900 – 1977)[1][2] was a French socialite and the wife of a newspaper owner. Yola is widely credited as the model for the main character in Colette's 1944 novella, Gigi.[3][4][5] As such, she became the basis of a 1949 French film in which Gigi was played by Danièle Delorme; a 1951 stage adaptation by Anita Loos, in which Colette cast the as-yet-unknown Audrey Hepburn to play Gigi; and an Academy Award-winning 1958 musical film starring Leslie Caron with a score by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe.[6] (Read more.)

From Love Letters to Old Hollywood:

Gigi Alvar is a girl who has had many lives. She first appeared in 1944 as the heroine of French author Colette's novella, which tells the story of Gigi's progression from a mischievous tomboy to a lovely young woman as she is groomed by her Great-Aunt Alicia and Grandmama to become the mistress of wealthy Gaston Lachaille. While the premise sounds vulgar, Colette's novella manages to be humorous, romantic, and sharp, much like Gigi herself. Readers loved it, and in 1949, the first film version was made in France. Just two years later, Anita Loos adapted the story for Broadway; Gigi would return to the Great White Way as a musical in 1973 and as a short-lived revival in 2015.

But, of course, when we think of Gigi, the first thing that comes to mind is Vincente Minnelli's 1958 masterpiece. This film holds a really special place in my heart, so much so that I knew doing a regular review of it wasn't what I wanted to do. Instead, I decided to do a deep dive into the world of Gigi, Grandmama, Aunt Alicia, and Gaston by looking at the three most important versions of their narrative: the original novella, the 1951 play, and Minnelli's film. So, grab some licorice and a cup of chamomile tea, because this is going to be super long extensive. (Read more.)


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