The Topless Scandal At The Cannes Festival Which Shook The World

A topless starlet, a Hollywood hunk and hordes of paparazzi. Here is the scandal which rocked the French Riviera

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The Topless Scandal At The Cannes Festival Which Shook The World

The world’s most glamorous festival at Cannes, which unspools from today to May 28, will no doubt yield fashion and gossip stories galore. Yet, nothing quite compares to the scandal which rocked the fest on the French Riviera, way back in 1954.

Simone Silva, a B-grade starlet of the British movies had exposed herself topless in the arms of the Hollywood hunk Robert Mitchum.

simone silva and robert michum controversial photo shoot
Simone Silva And Robert Michum's Controversial Photo Shoot

Silva maintained that she had taken off her bikini top at the request of photographers. A little before the incident, she had said she would was game to do anything for publicity. Mitchum played along with her but when the photos were printed across the world’s newspaper, he backtracked, saying he was just trying to “cover her up as any gentleman would do.”

mitchum

Then why was he grinning and looking quite amused with himself?

Incidentally, the paparazzi had gone wild, three paps had fallen into the Mediterranean waters, a fourth broke his ankle and another,fractured his elbow.

Instantaneously, the festivalgoers and the media of that time named Simone Silva ‘Miss Festival’. But the French organisers of the fest were enraged and told her to leave the event pronto. The Egyptian-born Silva, who had French and Italian parents, became a sensation momentarily and travelled to the U.S. to cash in on her new-found ‘fame’.

simone silva

Tragically though, she did not land any worthwhile assignments and was found dead in her apartment three years later. One version is that the starlet had suffered from a stroke at the age of 29, others claimed it was suicide.

As for Robert Mitchum, the topless scandal added to his popularity and he was frequently cast as the macho hero of the leading sex symbols of his time, including Marilyn Monroe (River of No Return), Kim Novak (Halloween) and Rita Hayworth (Fire Down Below). Mitchum passed away at the age of 79 in 1997.

mitchum kissing simone

Occasionally, Mitchum did return to the Cannes festival during his lifetime but took care never to ‘slip up’ before the paparazzi.

We wonder how many of the visitors to Cannes from India are aware that to go topless in Cannes would spark a furore once upon a time.

Today on the same Croisette beach, however, it is commonplace to see festival revellers –from locals to visitors from all over the globe --sun-bathing, topless

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