Michele Morgan, 96, a French movie actress who starred in the moody masterpiece

Port of Shadows

and who, during a brief Hollywood sojourn, helped introduce Frank Sinatra to film audiences in his first big role, died Dec. 20.

French President François Hollande called her "an elegance, a grace, a legend that left a mark on many generations."

In a career spanning seven decades, Ms. Morgan was best known as the ethereal femme fatale in Port of Shadows (1938), a film at the core of the poetic realism movement in French cinema. As visually sumptuous as they were bleak, the movies often involved working-class characters and social outcasts with destinies beyond their control - in essence, a precursor to American film noir.

She was a leading contender for the Ingrid Bergman role in Casablanca (1942), but RKO demanded a huge loan-out fee that the rival Warner Bros. would not meet. Instead she appeared in Higher and Higher (1943), a musical with Sinatra in which she played a maid impersonating a debutante. - Washington Post