When the professional theatre was established in Paris in the 1630s, no women specialized in comic character roles; by the end of that century, the troupe of the Comedie-Francaise included Mlles Desbrosses, Godefroy, Champvallon, and Du Rieu in the emploi of caracteres.
The four female retirees were Mlle de Brie, Moliere's favorite ingenue, still playing the teenaged Agnes in L'ecole des femmes at age fifty-five; Mlle Guyot, originally from the Marais, who had collected a variety of roles in both genres, mostly servantes; and Mlles Dupin and Dennebaut, the daughters of Montfleury.
The order to dismiss Mlles de Brie, Dupin, and Dennebaut was received on 19 June 1684, when Mlle La Grange, who had been reduced to a quartershare at the time of the merger, had her half-share restored.
The other two roles may have been played by Mlles Desbrosses and Du Rieu, although one or both may have been played by a member of the troupe.
Moliere in the 1660s and 1670s, however, still used male actors en travesti for older female roles--Madame Pernelle, Madame de Sotenville, Madame Jourdain, and even the leading role of Philaminte--although it was also Moliere who late in his career entrusted several important characters to Mlle La Grange, the first true character actress in the French theatre.
5) In 1634, when women were performing in farce, Mlle de Beausoleil, an actress in Georges de Scudery's La comedie des comediens, notes that,
She was undoubtedly played by one of the troupe's two actresses, either Mlle Le Noir or Mlle Villiers.