Remembering French Style Icon Jeanne Moreau

Jeanne Moreau, the French actress whose roles in classic films such as “Jules et Jim” and “Elevator to the Gallows” turned her into a style icon, has died in Paris at the age of 89, according to French media reports.

Moreau, who had a four-year relationship with Pierre Cardin, won the best-actress award at the Venice Film Festival in 1958 for Louis Malle’s “The Lovers” and at the Cannes Film Festival in 1960 for “Seven Days … Seven Nights.”

Jeanne Moreau
Jeanne Moreau
CREDIT: Jacques Verroust

She was also a singer, screenwriter and director, and in 2000 became the first woman to be elected a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts.

In recent years, she won countless lifetime achievement awards, including an honorary Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2003. She further marked the history of the festival with her duo with Vanessa Paradis in 1995 on “Le Tourbillon de la Vie,” a song drawn from the soundtrack of “Jules et Jim.”

Model Audrey Marnay was among those posting tributes to Moreau on Instagram. “Au revoir Melle Jeanne Moreau 🙏🏼 #LeTourbillonDeLaVie #JeanneMoreau,” she wrote alongside a clip of the song.

An atypical beauty with a whiskey-and-sandpaper voice, Moreau was a magnet for designers and filmmakers whose roles seemed to reflect her independent spirit, although she disputed it.

“The public sees me too much as they see me in films where I’m always playing unorthodox characters,” she once said. Yet she also confessed to throwing herself completely into her roles.

“The love, suffering and happiness I experience in life appear in my movies, become an integral part of them. When I see a film after I’ve made it, I see my own life before me,” she said.

Jeanne Moreau.
Jeanne Moreau

Beyond her love affair with Cardin, with whom she starred in the 1973 film “Joanna Francesa,” the actress had close links to the fashion industry. She wore designs by Gabrielle Chanel for her role as Juliette de Merteuil in Roger Vadim’s 1959 adaptation of “Dangerous Liaisons” and was dressed by Hubert de Givenchy in Jacques Demy’s “Bay of Angels” in 1963.

Her performance in the 1966 film “Mademoiselle” inspired “Everywhere at Once,” a 2007 movie by photographer Peter Lindbergh and experimental filmmaker Holly Fisher featuring a voiceover by the actress.

Moreau released several albums, once performing with Frank Sinatra at Carnegie Hall, and was a close friend to major literary figures including Marguerite Duras, Jean Cocteau, Jean Genet and Henry Miller. She has been linked romantically with Malle, François Truffaut and Tony Richardson, among others.

She was married twice, to fellow actor Jean-Louis Richard, with whom she had a son, Jérôme, and to American director William Friedkin.

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