Danielle Darrieux

Active - 1931 - 2010  |   Born - May 1, 1917 in Bordeaux, France  |   Died - Oct 17, 2017   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Comedy Drama, Romance

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French actress Danielle Darrieux studied the cello at the Paris Conservatory, but the direction her life took was more towards acting than music. Danielle made an impressive film debut as a headstrong teenager in La Bal (1931), but didn't crack the consciousness of international filmmakers until her heartrending portrayal of the doomed Baroness Marie Vetsera in Mayerling (1937). The success of this film led to Danielle's American contract with Universal pictures; studio executive Joe Pasternak cannily concocted what film critic Leonard Maltin has labelled a "winsome" image for the actress in her first US film, The Rage of Paris (1938). Electing to return to France after her American debut, Danielle found herself working under the scrutiny of the new Nazi regime. She made the best of things, continuing to star in films and entertaining the occupation troops as a singer. Unfortunately, this latter activity caused Ms. Darrieux to be labelled a collaborator by the French underground, which at one point targetted the actress for execution. After the war, there were some awkward moments for Danielle, but the death sentence was allowed to lapse. She returned briefly to the US in the early '50s, appearing as a French chanteuse in Rich, Young and Pretty (1950) and as James Mason's duplicitous lady friend in Five Fingers (1952). Most fans feel that Danielle did her best work in the latter part of her career, notably in director Max Ophuls' Madame De... (1953) and Jacques Demy's Young Girls of Rochefort (1967). The actress sang in concerts and cabarets in the '60s, and in 1970 replaced Katharine Hepburn the Broadway musical Coco. In the '80s, Danielle Darrieux scored a significant success in a Paris staging of the film musical Gigi, playing the role originated in the 1985 film by Hermione Gingold.

Movie Highlights

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Factsheet

  • À la mort de son père, sa mère est contrainte de donner des leçons de chant pour subsister. Mélomane, elle prend des cours de violoncelle et de piano. À 14 ans, elle entre au Conservatoire.
  • À 14 ans, elle obtient son premier rôle dans Le Bal de Wilhelm Thiele (1931) et signe un contrat de cinq ans avec les producteurs des studios d'Epinay.
  • Dès ses premiers films, elle chante des chansons populaires qui deviennent des succès. On la surnomme "la fiancée de Paris".
  • En 1942, elle voyage en Allemagne dans "le train de la honte" en compagnie d'autres acteurs français. Elle révèlera plus tard n'avoir accepté ce voyage qu'à la condition de pouvoir y rencontrer son mari, Porfirio Rubirosa, ambassadeur de République dominicaine accusé d'espionnage et incarcéré.
  • En 1954, elle achète l'île déserte de Stibiden, en Bretagne.
  • Dans les années 1950, elle tourne plusieurs films à Hollywood.
  • Elle tourne bon nombre de films de la Nouvelle Vague sous la direction de Chabrol, Jacques Demy...
  • En mai 2017, toujours en activité, elle devient centenaire.