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French thesp Cecile Aubry dies at 81

'Manon' star created 'Belle and Sebastien' books

BRUSSELS — Cecile Aubry, the creator of “Belle and Sebastien,” died on July 19 just outside Paris of lung cancer. She was 81.

While best known in France as a writer and TV director, Aubry began her career as a dancer and actress. She quickly found fame in the title role of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s “Manon,” winner of the 1949 Golden Lion in Venice.

A contract with 20th Century Fox took her to the U.S., where she starred in Henry Hathaway’s “The Black Rose” (1950), but further Hollywood roles did not follow.

After a handful of films in Europe she gave up acting to write children’s books, finding success in the early 1960s with her tales of 6-year-old Sebastien and his dog Belle in the French Alps. She later adapted the books for French television.

Dubbed in to English, the series went international. In the early 1980s, the characters found a new audience through a Japanese cartoon series.

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