The greatest Hollywood moments at Cannes all took place in the 1950s Golden Age

The annual Cannes Film Festival enters its 78th year in 2024. It’s been the French backdrop of Hollywood’s greatest stars and films for close to a century.

After the inaugural festival in 1946, countless film icons have graced the red carpet on the French Riviera to celebrate the most prestigious cinematic art of the year.

During this time, Cannes Film Festival, which until 2003 was simply known as the International Film Festival (Festival international du film), has played host to the likes of Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Ingrid Bergman, Princess Diana and Elizabeth Taylor.

Cannes festival retro moments 9Honey

Ghosts of Hollywood past haunt the hallowed halls of Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. 

Here’s some of the most famous from the 1950s – and the stories behind their appearances.

Brigitte Bardot’s bikini act in 1955

French actress and style icon Bridgitte Bardot’s 1955 appearance at Cannes was only fitting for someone of her ilk.

The And God Created Woman star made headlines in 1953 during her time at the festival not for her red carpet looks, but for her time frolicking on the beach.

Bardot, then aged just 19, was pictured lounging on the sand at Cannes, donning a floral bathing suit.

She was there to promote her new film Manina, la fille sans voiles (The Girl in the Bikini) and her beachside photoshoot attracted huge crowds – and headlines.

At the time, wearing a skimpy bikini like this was considered scandalous, especially at a prestigious film event like Cannes.

It cemented Bardot’s status as a sex symbol and pin-up girl of the 1950s.

Marilyn Monroe’s glamorous Cannes look

Everyone knows Marilyn Monroe was the epitome of glamour. In 1955, she embodied this more than ever when she made a red carpet appearance at Cannes.

The Some Like it Hot star stunned in a white satin gown, matching gloves and a fur stole as she made her way to a premiere at the 8th Cannes Film Festival.

Her platinum blonde hair was also styled in pinned curls.

That year was a big one for Monroe, who starred in perhaps one of her most popular movies of all time, The Seven Year Itch.

Grace Kelly’s final Cannes appearance as an actress

Before she became a Monaco royal, Grace Kelly made her final (and unforgettable) appearance as an actress at Cannes in 1955.

Kelly had arrived at the French film festival to promote her film, To Catch A Thief. She arrived by boat to the French Riviera not long after she had crossed paths with Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

Rainier met Kelly during a photocall at his palace to support her trip to Cannes.

The next year, Kelly retired from acting and married her prince, officially making her Princess of Monaco.

Sophia Loren’s first-ever Cannes

Italian star Sophia Loren made a career out of incredible red carpet appearances, so she was no stranger to Cannes.

She was one of several famous retro stars who graced the festival in 1955.

This year marked her first-ever appearance at Cannes, with Loren just 20 when she came to support her film The Gold of Naples.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about that fateful appearance, Loren said she quickly realised she was the most photographed person at Cannes that year.

“The public, they were applauding me in the street like they were supposed to do with actresses that have a very important name,” she recalled.

“And, for that moment, I felt that maybe, maybe I might have a chance to make it in films.”

Ingrid Bergman’s return to Hollywood

Swedish-born film icon Ingrid Bergman attended Cannes Film Festival in 1956 to promote her film, Anastasia.

Her role in the Anatole Litvak film marked Bergman’s bold return to Hollywood after she spent most of the 1950s away from America following her scandalous marriage to director Roberto Rossellini.

Bergman’s Cannes arrival was her highly-anticipated re-entry into the world she had exiled herself from for years.

Anastasia later earned Bergman an Academy Award for Best Actress. Director Litvak described her at the time as “one of the greatest actresses in the world”.

Elizabeth Taylor’s last Cannes with third husband

The legendary Elizabeth Taylor was Hollywood royalty. So much so, she even donned a tiara at countless red carpet events – including during her time at Cannes in 1957.

Taylor’s third husband Mike Todd accompanied her to the festival, where she helped promote a film he produced, Around The World in 80 Days.

It was the couple’s last-ever Cannes appearance. The following year, Todd died in a plane crash in New Mexico.

Taylor hadn’t been on the plane because she was ill with a cold.

In the aftermath of Todd’s death, Taylor was devastated, and spent time crying on the shoulder of former co-star Eddie Fisher, who was married to Debbie Reynolds. Fisher could become Taylor’s fourth husband.