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Friday, 26 January 2018

Who's that girl?

Embed from Getty Images

You've seen her. That girl posing with the Beatles in French hats. At present, the copyright is held by Getty Images. This is how they caption the image: "English group The Beatles posed with a female actress and wearing a variety of French hats including a kepi and beret in Paris in January 1964. Clockwise from top left: John Lennon (1940-1980), George Harrison (1943-2001), Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr". So the model is not named, but she is described to be an actress. Place and time provided as Paris and January 1964. She strikes a pose, but she knows more than one:

For some, she's a mystery girl. And especially to people who write captions, it seems. And was the photo taken in Paris in January - or was it in London in December as a publicity image for their forthcoming residency at the Paris Olympia?

This is a 60's ollector's card from Sweden, locally called a "filmis", with a mirror image of the photo.
The caption here leads us to speculate if she's the fifth Beatle.

In this German magazine, the image is again flipped, and the caption describes it
as a scene from "Help!" with Eleanor Bronn (sic).

Out on the internet is a sleuth of false information, and captions are in many cases guesswork. The woman who is featured alongside the Beatles here, and also wearing the same outfit on a Parisian street is sometimes identified as Sylvie Vartan (the singer who shared the bill with the Beatles at L’Olympia the time), as artist Miss Mirabelle, who happened to pass by, as French actress and occasional model Sophie Hardy, and while I was doing my research, the names Eve Bowen and Mireille Darc also appeared.

Embed from Getty Images

Another Getty Image, the caption goes: "English group The Beatles posed with an unidentified girl in a street in Paris in January 1964."
This blonde has the same hairdo and outfit as in the photo studio, accessorised with a black scarf. No doubt a good way to  protect against the chilly January weather in Paris.

Of course, John and Paul were no strangers to Paris,. As an early 21st birthday present in 1961, John had been given the lump sum of 100 pounds, and he and Paul left the Beatles in the lurch for a while, and went hiking for Spain. They never made it further than Paris, and there they happened upon their Hamburg friend Jürgen Vollmer who was studying photography in the French capital. They visited the artist's district of Montmartre, and upon revisiting the city in 1964, no doubt John and Paul wanted to show George and Ringo the sights.

John Lennon and his wife Cynthia had spent a belated honeymoon in Paris just a few months before the Beatles arrived in the city, from September 16, 1963. And lo and behold, once again John met a friend from Hamburg in Paris, this time it was Astrid Kirchherr.

The first concert the Beatles held in France was on January 15, 1964 i the Cyrano theatre in Versailles, whereupon they moved their act to L’Olympia in Paris the next day.
The programme clearly shows the three biigest names on the bill.

There were around ten acts performing on each of the shows, an the biggest names apart from the Beatles were Trini Lopez and Sylvie Vartan. There were three shows every night the four first days, after that they only played twice a night. There has always been a bit of confusion about who were the real bill toppers, but according to the owner of L’Olympia, Bruno Coquatrix, it was the Beatles.

A page in the programme.
For their stay, the Beatles occupied a suite at the posh hotel George V, the same hotel where John and Cynthia had stayed at a few months earlier. They had an upright piano installed in a corner, which led Monsieurs Lennon & McCartney to compose "Can't Buy Me Love", which they also recorded while in Paris. The Beatles had a couple of Wednesdays off, the 21 and the 28 of January, and John and George flew over to London that latter Wednesday. Arriving back Thursday morning, they found that George Martin had arrived from England, and at EMI's Pathé Marconi Studios, the Beatles recorded German language versions of their last couple of singles, "She Loves You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand". After having delivered "Sie Liebt Dich" and "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand",  they recorded four takes of the new composition, "Can’t Buy Me Love".

Another page in the programme is an advertisement for their French records, both 45's and albums.
Their final perfomances at L’Olympia was on February 4, when they were journeying on to conquer America. A lot had happened while they were in Paris. Derek Taylor had been visiting, as he was ghost writing a newspaper column in the Daily Express for George, photographer Harry Benson had captured their pillow fight, they had been informed that they were top of the pops in USA with "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and they had discovered Bob Dylan. It was Paul McCartney who had been given Bob Dylan's album by a French DJ, and the Beatles listened a lot to it while in their hotel suite.

Photo exhibition
One of the photos we posted earlier in this story, was on display in Paris a few years ago, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Beatles Paris residency. From November 28, 2013 to February 8, 2014 the exhibition consisted of just a few photos from Paris, and more photos from the rest of the Beatles career. There was a note beside the photo, which mentioned a certain Eve Bowen.

EVE BOWEN. The Beatles posing at Eve Bowen's photo studio, a few weeks before their tour of Paris. December 1963.

However, this is just a photo credit. The note also claims that the photo in question was taken in December 1963, a few weeks before their arrival in France. We also find that Eve Bowen is credited as a photographer (or perhaps just a copyright holder?) in other pictures at the exhibition.

Exhibition catalogue page.
We haven't spent much time researching Eve Bowen, but we did see her credited as an American photographer at Artnet Among her photos are some from The Beatles' train ride between Washington and New York in February 1964. She also appear to have been present at the Beatles' dress rehearsal for the Ed Sullivan Show. The little bio we have seen reads: "Eve Bowen was a female photographer, but she is to a large extent unknown today. Her estate is kept at the Hayward Archive in London." Hayward however, sold Bowen's photos with full copyright at an auction in Surrey in February 2015.
Bowen also took some photos of Jimi Hendrix in 1967. Some people over at the French Beatles site Lucy in the web are saying that she was Dezo Hoffmann's assistant at the time, and took a few photos of her own. So perhaps she did take these photos after all. But the time placement mentioned at this exhibition we doubt.

Outdoor photos

The Beatles posing outside with the girl, Lutterbach is a Frensh beer from the Alsace district.

Dezo Hoffmann tells a tale about the girl in these photos: "It was «a very cold day. We went into a bistro for a hot cup of tea. Instead we got a cup of good French coffee from the young lady behind the counter. She was so attractive I asked her to pose outside on the pavement with the Beatles. She’d never heard of them, but did me the favour and went upstairs to change into some flimsy French-postcard style clothes. It only took me three minutes to get the pictures, but she was blue with cold, despite John snuggling up against her at the back.”
The girl's name was Mirielle, according to Bill Harry. The quote is from Dezo's book «The Beatles Conquer America» (Virgin Books 1984).

Clearly present in Paris, this photo captures photographer Dezo Hoffmann behind George..
That was a nice story, Dezo, but I think you may have invented it. In fact, it's French Beatles fan Jacques Volcouve, founder of the Beatles fan club "Le Club des Quatre de Liverpool" who delivers the goods. The name of the girl is Sophie Hardy (born October 4, 1944 or 1938, depending on source). Jacques says about the quote from Dezo: "I don’t believe this story. It is all untrue. Dezo’s memory has failed here. The same day they shot a photographic session in a studio with the Beatles wearing a typical French hat (i.e. Napoleon’s cocked hat, a cop’s kepi and a Basque beret). This girl was called Sophie Hardy and was an actress. I interviewed her a few years ago about that. She said at the time she was modeling and her agency called to ask her to pose with a foreign group called the Beatles. She did not know anything about them and just did her job, never realising who she was posing with. The Beatles still mean nothing to her."

Another version has the girl as Mireille Darc (1938-2017), another famous French bombshell at the time. But compared to the Beatles photos, her 1964 hair is far too long.

Mireille Darc in 1964 – too long hair.

Sophie Hardy was a young actress in Paris, mostly in 1964-67, and she also took modeling jobs.

Embed from Getty Images
This is Sylvie Vartan, the singer who shared the bill at L'Olympia with The Beatles,
and often wrongly identified as the girl on the street and in the photo studio.

Sylvie Vartan, captured in performance at L'Olympia in 1964.
Of course, in no way are the photos we are talking about featuring Sylvie Vartan, she may have had short hair at the time, but the model had even shorter hair and quite a different hairstyle. Vartan later married French singer Johnny Halliday, who died just recently.

Sylvie Vartan with Paul McCartney in 2008, when he once again performed at L’Olympia.

Ringo was also taking a few photos of his own at the photo studio session, Here is one of his photos of Paul,
which is currently exhibited by Genesis Publications..

Ringo brought his own camera to the photo session, and took a few photos. The above one is one of his portraits of Paul, and here is an interesting newspaper clipping from back then:

Ringo's photos. The clipping verifies that the actress was Sophie Hardy, but the photo of Jane Asher we're not so sure about.
After having appeared in a number of motion pictures and television shows in France, Italy and elsewhere in Europe, Sophie Hardy still accepts model assignments for the Cindy Brace agency. Here is her current head shot:

Sophie Hardy at 73 or thereabout.
So now that we have identified the blonde in those photos, who took the studio pictures? It seems to us that Dezo writes himself out of the picture with his fantastic tale of the girl in the coffeee shop, and that he only took the pavement shots. Was it perhaps the elusive Eve Bowen? If you have any information, please use the comment section.

And yes, we know that Dezo is credited as photographer on this EP cover:

A rare version of this EP, which also exists with a different front cover, taken by Dezo Hoffmann.

On June 6, 2018, L'Olympia is again revisited by a Beatle, as the venue is where Ringo and his All Starr Band open their European tour.

The Mersey Beat by Bill Harry
Lucy in the web
Getty Images
Model Agency Cindy Brace
The Daily Mirror


db said...

Probably better to say 'the woman with blonde hair', rather than 'the blonde', unless you want to sound like you've stepped out of an early 70s Carry On film.

Mike said...

For what it's worth about Sophie Hardy's age, she was quoted in several U.S. newspapers in December 1966 as saying, "I'm 26. I feel that perhaps I'm getting too old. Today everybody should be 18." That would put her birth year at 1940.

Piet_S said...

The photographer was Tom Hanley. He hired the studio, the props, and the model. The session was supposed to be an exclusive, but Dezo "stole" a few shots of his own.

Graham said...

I met Sophie Hardy in 1986 or 87. I was invited to dinner with my French girlfriend in her uncle’s Parisian flat. Sophie was 45 at the time and still attractive and flirtatious. My girlfriend’s uncle thought she was a bit nuts, having spent her career in modelling and acting. But then he was a canon at Norte Dame cathedral. She gave us a lift home afterwards in her mini car which she’d bought in the 60s. It was a memorable evening.

Unknown said...

Sophie Hardy starred in the film Three Hats For Lisa with Joe Brown. The film opened in January 1965. That may explain all the hats in the Beatles photos.