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Henri de la Falaise

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Henri de la Falaise

Henry de La Falaise
Born James Henry Le Bailly de La Falaise
February 11, 1898
Died April 10, 1972
Spouse(s) Gloria Swanson (1925-1931)
Constance Bennett (1931-1940)
Emma "Emmita" Rodriguez Restrepo de Roeder

Henry de La Falaise, so-called Marquis de La Coudraye, born James Henry Le Bailly de La Falaise (Saint-Cyr-l'École, France, February 11, 1898 – April 10, 1972), was a French nobleman, translator, film director, film producer, sometimes actor and war hero who was best known for his high-profile marriages to two leading Hollywood actresses.

His actual surname was Le Bailly, though he and other members of his family used Le Bailly de La Falaise, referring to an ancestral estate; it is typically abbreviated to de La Falaise. As the marquis told The New York Times (7 October 1925), "My patronymic name is Le Bailly, but ... I use the name de la Falaise because it is one of the great-grandfather branches of the Le Bailly family. De La Falaise is the only existing branch of that family today. So this should be my entire name: James Henry Le Bailly de La Falaise, Marquis de La Coudraye".

The title held by the head of the family, Marquis de La Coudraye, dating from 1707, was granted, by an 1876 act of succession, to the younger son of Pacôme-François Le Bailly, Seigneur de La Falaise, and his wife, Pauline-Louise-Victoire de Loynes, daughter of the Marquis de La Coudraye. However, the title of Marquis was never registered at the "Sceau de France, Ministry of Justice" and is therefore not valid. The same goes for the title of Count. Male descendants can on the other hand claim the title of Ecuyer. Descendants of that couple use the surname "Le Bailly de La Falaise", and after the act of succession, the family's younger sons have called themselves Count de La Falaise.[1] The origins of the Le Bailly de La Falaise can be found in the book "Du Pays de Caux à la Vendée, Histoire et Généalogie des LE BAILLY de LA FALAISE et de leurs alliances, du XVème siècle à nos jours" by GEOFFROY GUERRY (2011)

Early life

La Falaise was the eldest son and second child of Louis Gabriel Venant Le Bailly de La Falaise, Ecuyer (1866-1910), a three time La Falaise inherited the title of Marquis de La Coudraye from his paternal grandfather, Gabriel-César-Henri Le Bailly de La Falaise, who, like his father, died in 1910 (the father died on 4 April, the grandfather on 6 August). His widowed mother married in 1912, as her second husband, Count Antoine Hocquart de Turtot (1872—1954), a cavalry officer and major French horse-racing figure.

He had four full siblings:

  • Louise Le Bailly de La Falaise (1894—1910)[4]
  • Henri James Le Bailly de La Falaise, Ecuyer (1898-1972), film director and producer, war hero and translator.
  • Alain Le Bailly de La Falaise, Ecuyer (1905—1977).[5] He was the first husband of fashion model Maxime de la Falaise and the father of fashion muse/designer Loulou de la Falaise.
  • Richard Le Bailly de La Falaise, Ecuyer (1910—died at Buchenwald in 1945)[6][7]

He also had a half-sibling:

  • Henriette-Hyacinthe-Olympe-Geneviève Hocquart de Turtot (born circa 1913)

Military Service

The Marquis de La Coudraye was awarded the Croix de Guerre for heroism during World War I, during which time he was attached to the 70th Division of the American Expeditionary Forces.[8] He received Croix de Guerre for bravery during World War II, while he was attached to the British 12th Royal Lancers. In 1943, La Falaise published "Through Hell to Dunkirk" (Military Service Publishing Company), a memoir of his war experiences.[9]

Notably handsome and universally known as "Hank," the marquis was admiringly described by the actress Lillian Gish as "a real war hero. In his bathing-suit he presents a graphic picture of what modern warfare does to a man — he is so cut-and-shot and covered with scars."


La Falaise directed at least five motion pictures, among them two dramas about primitive life and customs: Kliou the Killer (1934, released 1936, also known as Kliou the Killer Tiger) and Legong: Dance of the Virgins (1933, released 1935, also known as Djanger: Love Rite of Bali).[10][11] The latter production was described many years later as a "seductive blend of serious documentary, lyrical effusion and unbridled prurience".[12] He may also have written a film script for Gloria Swanson, his first wife, called Paris Luck, a 1927 work that bore the name of Robert Bailly. He also served as the U.S. representative for Pathé, the French film studio.[13]

La Falaise also produced and directed three films for RKO, which were filmed in French and English versions: L'roi s'ennuie (The Royal Bed) (an adaptation of Robert E. Sherwood's play The Queen's Husband); Le fils d'autre (The Woman Between), and Nuit d'Espagne (Transgression).[14]


La Falaise was married three times, to:

  • Gloria Swanson, American movie actress. They married in Paris, France, on January 28, 1925, after meeting on the set of the Swanson film Madame Sans-Gêne, on which La Falaise was working as a translator.[15][16] They were officially divorced in November 1931, at which time Swanson was several months pregnant by Michael Farmer, an Irish sportsman, who would become her fourth husband.[17] (Thinking her divorce from La Falaise was already finalized, the actress had married Farmer in August, which was technically bigamy, and was forced to remarry him, legally, in November.) Swanson conceived a child with La Falaise but had an abortion because, as The New York Times noted, in 2004, "if she had given birth seven months after her marriage, her career would have been ruined".[18] During their marriage La Falaise was employed as the California representative of Peugeot American Corp., the U.S. branch of the European automobile manufacturer.[19]
  • Constance Bennett, American movie actress, whom he married in November 1931, days after his divorce from Swanson was finalized.[20] With her, he founded Bennett Productions, a film company for which he directed Legong: Dance of the Virgin (the first color movie filmed in Bali and the last of Hollywood's silent films) and Kliou the Killer (filmed in present-day Vietnam and the last movie made in two-tone Technicolor).[21][22] Bennett and La Falaise divorced in 1940.[23]
  • Emma "Emmita" Rodriguez Restrepo de Roeder, a Colombian divorcée, whose father had been a diplomat.


Since La Falaise had no children, the title of Marquis de La Coudraye was inherited by his younger brother, Alain de La Falaise (died 1977). It then passed to his nephew, Alexis de La Falaise (died 2004). It is now held by his grand-nephew (grand-son of Alain), Daniel de La Falaise, a professional chef and former fashion model and actor.″However, the title of Marquis has never been registered with the Sceau de France at the Ministry of Justice and is therefore not valid." The male members of the family can use the title "Ecuyer". Furthermore, if the title of Marquis was to be used it would then go to Gabriel Le Bailly de La Falaise, son of Richard Le Bailly de La Falaise who died in 1945 in Germany, having been deported for being in the Resistance. Gabriel was adopted by Henry de La Falaise and he would have been the next one in line for the title.


  • The origins of the Le Bailly de La Falaise can be found in the book "Du Pays de Caux à la Vendée, Histoire et Généalogie des LE BAILLY de LA FALAISE et de leurs alliances, du XVème siècle à nos jours" by GEOFFROY GUERRY (2011)

External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • Les gens du cinéma for birth certificate
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