Jeanne Moreau, French actress and New Wave icon, dies at 89

Emilio Banks
August 1, 2017

She died at her home in Paris, the BBC reports. An assistant to her agent confirmed the death but would not provide details.

The great French actress, who died Monday at 89, was too wise and contradictory to be a sex kitten; she became famous not for undraping her body but seeming to unveil her soul, and then only partially. Like many artists, it was invariably her next project that interested her the most.

Shortly after this trip, Jeanne invited me to accompany her to a Friday night dinner at the Hollywood Hills home of her former director and lover, Tony Richardson, who had left Vanessa Redgrave for Jeanne back in the mid-'60s when they made two perfectly terrible films together, Mademoiselle and The Sailor from Gibraltar.

Tributes for the actress, who made an early mark on the cinema world with performances in films like Jules et Jim and Diary of a Chambermaid, have already begun pouring in from France's highest circles. To wit: She once said that "physical beauty is a disgrace"; she's spoken out against organized religion; and she scoffed at being labeled a "grande dame", insisting it's simply a backhanded compliment given to women of a certain age.

The actress was married three times in her life; to Jean-Louis Richard from 1949 to 1964 (though they separated in '51), Teodoro Rubanis in 1966 and William Friedkin from 1977 to 1979. "A great many people don't have the vitality for enthusiasm, so they surrender and go to the motion pictures".

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In adapting the novel by Henri-Pierre Roché, director Francois Truffaut had to find an actress who could credibly play a woman so desirable that she keeps both of the film's title characters in her thrall for years.

Jeanne Moreau's breakthrough in the film industry came in 1957. She later made a brief appearance in the worldwide hit La Femme Nikita and provided narration for the The Lover.

She acted well into her 80s, adding several chapters to her rich filmography, which included collaborations with Louis Malle, Jean Renoir, and Luis Buñuel.

She continued to work up until only a few years ago, and apparently never felt nostalgic for her heydeys of the French New Wave, instead insisting on always trying new things.

She was also honoured with a Palm d'Or in 2003 and received a Cesar Award in 2008. She starred in her last feature film in 2015, a French comedy called "My Friends' Talent". "And so I told him, drink Champagne, it is lemonade for grown-ups". I didn't feel like being the one who just watches.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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