Who was Jean-Paul Belmondo?
Jean-Paul Belmondo, 9 April 1933 – 6 September 2021) was a French actor initially associated with the New Wave of the 1960s and a major French film star for several decades from the 1960s. His best-known credits include Breathless (1960) and That Man from Rio (1964).
Actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, star of ‘Breathless,’ dies at 88
French film star Jean-Paul Belmondo, whose breakout role in the New Wave classic Breathless won him international fame, has died at age 88.
French President Emmanuel Macron mourned the passing of a man he called “a national treasure” on Twitter. “He will forever remain Le Magnifique,” Macron wrote, nodding to a 1973 slapstick spy satire that was just one on a long list of star turns in a career that spanned six decades.
Il restera à jamais Le Magnifique. Jean-Paul Belmondo était un trésor national, tout en panache et en éclats de rire, le verbe haut et le corps leste, héros sublime et figure familière, infatigable casse-cou et magicien des mots. En lui, nous nous retrouvions tous. pic.twitter.com/4CVI9uwKLA
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) September 6, 2021
Belmondo’s death at his Paris home on Monday was confirmed by his lawyer, Michel Godest, to French news agency Agence France-Presse. “He had been very tired for some time. He died peacefully,” Godest said.
Known for his craggy features, winning smile, and ever-present cigarette, Belmondo was frequently compared by criticsto fellow leading men Humphrey Bogart, Marlon Brando, and James Dean. He played rebellious tough guys with a core of sweetness — and effortless cool.
Jean-Paul Belmondo Biography, Wiki
Jean-Paul Belmondo was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine on 9 April 1933. Belmondo’s father, Paul Belmondo, was a Pied-Noir sculptor who was born in Algeria of Italian descent, whose parents were of Sicilian and Piedmontese origin. His mother, Sarah Rainaud-Richard, was a painter. As a boy, he was more interested in sport than school, developing a particular interest in boxing and soccer.
Belmondo made his amateur boxing debut on 10 May 1949 in Paris when he knocked out Rene Desmarais in one round. Belmondo’s boxing career was undefeated but brief. He won three straight first-round knockout victories from 1949 to 1950. “I stopped when the face I saw in the mirror began to change,” he later said.
Belmondo was interested in acting. His late teenage years were spent at a private drama school, and he began performing comedy sketches in the provinces. He studied under Raymond Giraud and then attended the Conservatoire of Dramatic Arts when he was twenty. He studied there for three years.
He would probably have won the prize for best actor, but participated in a sketch mocking the school, which offended the jury; this resulted in his only getting an honorable mention, “which nearly set off a riot among his incensed fellow students” in August 1956, according to one report. The incident made front-page news.
|Born||Jean-Paul Charles Belmondo|
9 April 1933
|Died||6 September 2021 (aged 88)|
|Spouse(s)||Élodie Constantin(m. 1952; div. 1968)|
Natty Tardivel (m. 2002; div. 2008)
|Partner(s)||Ursula Andress (1965–1972)|
Laura Antonelli (1972–1980)
Maria Carlos Sotto Mayor (1980–1987)
Barbara Gandolfi (2008–2012)
|Children||4, including Paul Belmondo|
|Awards||César Award for Best Actor|
1989 Itinéraire d’un enfant gâté
Belmondo began booking roles in short and feature films in the 1950s. In 1960, Jean-Luc Godard cast the young actor as a criminal in Breathless, opposite American actress Jean Seberg. In the film, Belmondo’s Michel, a petty thief, steals a car and murders a policeman. He then flees to Paris, where he hides out with Seberg’s Patricia while plotting an escape to Italy. The wild success of the movie inside and outside France made him the face of the French New Wave, an experimental movement that revolutionized world cinema.
“The key to Belmondo’s success in the 1960s is that everyone desired him for one reason or another, and he had the air of a guy who was quickly sick of any demands but also willing to show his best self if you really needed it,” the film critic Dan Callahan wrote in a remembrance of Belmondo on Monday.
Belmondo resisted Hollywood directors’ efforts to woo him to America, saying, “Why to complicate my life? I am too stupid to learn the language and it would only be a disaster,” according to the New York Times.
That decision didn’t seem to cost him any commercial success. In France, he remained a huge star, acting opposite the likes of screen legends Sophia Loren and Catherine Deneuve and taking roles in popular comedies and action films in the 1970s and 80s. He famously insisted on doing most of his own stunts.
He appeared regularly on screen into the 21st century, until a stroke in 2001 paralyzed one side of his body and left him unable to speak for half a year. After rehabilitation, he returned to star in one final film, A Man and His Dog, in 2008. In 2017, he received an over two-minute-long standing ovation when he was given a lifetime achievement honor at the César awards, France’s equivalent of the Oscars.
“Jean-Paul Belmondo has passed away and cinema will never be quite as cool again,” Edgar Wright, the director of films including Last Night In Soho and Baby Driver, tweeted on Monday.