Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Tribute in Stills to Stacey Tendeter

Tim Lucas over at Video Watchblog has uncovered the sad news that Stacey Tendeter, the haunting red-headed British actress who played Muriel in Francois Truffaut’s masterful Two English Girls passed away in October of 2008.
Despite giving a mesmerizing and touching performance in Truffaut’s most undervalued masterpiece, the career of Stacey Tendeter was mostly relegated to the small screen throughout the seventies and eighties, although things could have gone very differently for her as the two stories below demonstrate.

Before spotting the young and fierce Isabelle Adjani on French television in the mid seventies, Truffaut had originally thought of reuniting with Tendeter for The Story of Adele H. in 1975. According to Truffaut by Antoine de Baecque and Serge Toubiana screen-tests were made and Tendeter fit the part, but Truffaut couldn’t get Adjani out of his head and the rest is history. Adjani would become one of the biggest stars and most respected actresses in French history and Tendeter would slip into oblivion.
Even though she didn’t get to play the role of Victor Hugo’s tragic daughter in one of Truffaut’s most popular productions several of Two English Girls most searing moments seem like a dry run for Adele H., specifically a fevered dream sequence featuring Tendeter at her her most fragile, vulnerable and heartbreaking.

Truffaut didn’t forget Stacey Tendeter and in a letter to Anette Insdorf (found in the remarkable Francoise Truffaut Correspondence 1945-1984) in 1977 he makes mention that he would be acting opposite her in his eerie and resonate The Green Room. However it was not to be once again and Nathalie Baye ended up with the role.
I have many books on Truffaut, and his films, but very few make mention of Stacey Tendeter so behind the scenes information on her most famous role remain sketchy. Truffaut himself had this to say though in talking about her (and co-star Kika Markham) in a 1972 interview with Pascal Thomas:

“(Muriel) is played with all the verve of her deep and throaty voice by the young Stacey Tendeter. The two English actresses had done a little theater, some radio and television, but had never acted in films and above all had never acted in anything French. I guided them scene by scene, giving them instructions inspired by my reading of all the available biographies of the admirable Bronte sisters, also passionate, puritanical Englishwomen.”

I have been known to call Two English Girls my favorite film from my favorite director so the news that one of its stars has passed on at such a young age is extremely saddening. Consider these stills of Stacey Tendeter from Two English Girls my small tribute.


Tim Lucas said...

That's a moving tribute, Jeremy. I wasn't aware of Tendeter's close brushes with those other important roles in Truffaut's work, and she must have felt terribly disappointed not to win them. As I was watching the film, I got the feeling -- as much as the film was modelled on the novel and the historical reference of the Bronte sisters -- that Truffaut was perhaps subconsciously creating a fantasy about his relationships with Fran├žoise Dorleac and Catherine Deneuve.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks so much Tim,
I thought the story of Adele H was particularly interesting as it acted as the springboard to Adjani's career, and of course would have changed Tendeters. I am sure Stacey was quite disappointed.
I love your idea about Two English Girls being related to Deneuve-Dorleac. It's something I have never considered but it makes sense. I have always felt that Two English Girls was one of Truffaut's most personal works and, it seems that we both agree, one of his greatest. I hope Criterion releases a DVD set of it one day, as they did a Laserdisc years ago...
thanks again.

Ned Merrill said...


LES DEUX ANGLAISES ET LE CONTINENT (known as ANNE & MURIEL in the UK) is my favorite Truffaut film as well and I'm very saddened to hear the news of Ms. Tendeter's death. I always found it unfortunate that neither she or Kika Markham had any subsequent high profile roles. Markham has remained quite active in British television productions and did play Sean Connery's wife in OUTLAND.

I think I will listen to Georges Delerue's gorgeous score today (my favorite Delerue score) in "Muriel's" memory.

Verdigris said...

Thank you for your kind comments. I met Stacey at school 46 years ago and we remained married for 38 of those years. When making the film we danced late into the night at the Paris Hilton with just us and Stephan Grapelli - he played until we could dance no more. Stacey fought her cancer courageously and fiercly but the last two years were extremely difficult. She became very weak and unable even to move in bed by herself but her courage never left her - she said "I would rather be alive like this than not alive at all" Her work lives on and she will live with me forever. Thanks again from Andy Elton husband to Stacey Tendeter.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thank you Andy for your wonderful comments and memories. They were a pleasure to read and I greatly appreciate you leaving them. I am so sorry for your loss and I hope you and your family are doing well. Thanks again for these wonderful thoughts.

Julie Rutherford said...

It is with sadness that I only learn of Stacey's death today. We worked together in the 70s on a production/tour of "City Sugar", and became friends. We stayed in touch although it was not for long as sadly in the theatre people come and go only to quickly. But I remember her for her genuiness and Andy too. it was good to know her.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thank you very much Julie for your kind comments and warm memories of Stacey. They are very appreciated. My best to you and your family this holiday season.

Anonymous said...

Never forgotten;two English girls is my favourite movie ever on love and romance;i felt totally identified the first time i saw it,sadly soon after Stacey's death.

I wish there was more information about her and more films or series where she was,made available.
How sweet and tender she was on "two English girls";i,like CLaude,fell instantly in love with her too.

Rest in peace Stacey and thanks Jeremy for your blogs and this particular entry.


Anonymous said...

She'd be 63 today.May you're resting in peace Stacey.

kenn said...

Tommorow is the third anniversary of her death.I got to know her fate for the first time only 5 days ago, and I'm deeply moved.

"Les deux Anglaises et le continent" is one of my most favorite films for 30 years. I fell in love with Muriel = Stacey when I first saw this film.
After that, I've been unhappy for a long time, becasuse of no chance to see Stacey on other films.

She died at the age of 59, so she lived longer than Truffaut, but was still too young to past away.(Now I became the same age as Truffaut died)

I was deeply impressed by her husband Andy's commennt. It was impossible to read her word "I would rather be alive like this than not alive at all" without tears. It sounds like a dialogue in that film.

Tommorow I'm going to see her again on "Les deux Anglaises et le continent" DVD in memory of her.

Thank you Jeremy for this many information and this space.

Ken Tanaka

kenn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Book of You said...

I thought last night that I would watch 'Les Deux Anglaises et le Continent' for about the 5th time - it is one of my most treasured films and means a great deal to me. I was struck halfway through at how wonderful Stacey Tendeter's performance was. Had a quick Google and found this terrible news. It is not much consolation to her husband and family but she will live on in this great film and performance. RIP Stacey (and Truffaut, Philippe Leotard, Georges Delerue, so many gone before their time...)

Ekerot said...

Truffaut is one of my most loved director. And "Les deux Anglaises" one of my favourite film ever. I could never forget the first time I've seen it, on a 10" screen, watching a videotape.
It was like a punch, I wondering after the vision in a foggy night in Pisa, totally astonished and stunned. And, of course, I felt in love with Muriel after a few minutes.
The fact Stacey Tendeter did not have many other chances in her film career later on, it's to me like a sign she was meant to be "Muriel", an extraordinary and unforgettable female character. As Miranda in "Picnic at Hanging Rock".
I'm terribly sad to hear she passed away. I don't believe in the afterlife, but I can say I'll never forget her. Never.