Héléne Surgére was in her thirties when she abandoned a thriving business career. She was spotted in a photo-story by Paul Vecchiali, who cast her in "The Devil's Tricks" in 1966. In all, they made nine features together, with Surgére becoming his subversive muse in "Femmes Femmes" (in which she co-starred with Sonia Saviange as fading actresses seeking solace in alcohol and memories), "Don't Change Hands" (which saw her playing a politician pursuing her son's blackmailer) and "Corps à coeur," in which her fiftysomething pharmacist falls for younger mechanic Nicolas Silberg. However, Surgére achieved international notoriety as the outwardly respectable bourgeois reading the Marquis de Sade in Pier Paolo Pasolini's scathing denunciation of fascist excess, "Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom." Alternating between stage and screen, she impressed as the repressed housewife in "Fine Manners" and the chubby secretary in the conspiracy thriller "The Marcorelle Affair." She also worked with such notables as André Téchiné on the romantic thriller "Barocco" and the historical biopic "The Brontë Sisters," Jacques Demy on the musical "Three Seats for the 26th," Raoul Ruiz in the Proust adaptation "Time Regained," James Ivory on the culture clash satire "Le Divorce," Patrice Leconte on the psychological comedy "Intimate Strangers" and Claude Berri on the touching tale of crossing fates, "Ensemble, c'est tout." Shortly before her death, she joined the prestigious Comédie Française for Chekhov's "Three Sisters."