Though regarded by many fans as a Frenchman through and through, Yves Montand was actually born in Italy, just outside Florence. After his anti-fascist parents fled his homeland to avoid the wrath of Mussolini, Montand grew up in the less fashionable sections of Marseilles, where he supported himself as a dock worker. He was discovered in 1944 by singer Edith Piaf, the first of Montand's many celebrity lovers. After working in Piaf's nightclub act and appearing with her in the 1946 film Star Without Light, Montand gained stature as a solo actor/singer, proving his dramatic mettle in Georges Clouzot's The Wages of Fear (1955). In 1951, Montand married actress Simone Signoret, a union that lasted until her death in 1985. Though he tended to keep his leftist politics out of his public appearances during the first half of his career, Montand was finally able to espouse his views in films via his many performances in the works of director Costa-Gavras, particularly Z (1968), The Confession (1970), and State of Siege (1973). The actor enjoyed a career renaissance as a character player in the 1980s. Universally honored as one of the greatest entertainers of his era (an assessment with which he heartily concurred), Yves Montand died at age 71, a scant few years after becoming a father for the first time.