Maria Schneider

Active - 1972 - 2008  |   Born - Mar 27, 1952 in Paris, France  |   Died - Feb 3, 2011   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Comedy Drama

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

Driven out of show business with sticks of butter following the premiere of Bernardo Bertolucci's taboo-shattering Last Tango in Paris in 1972, Maria Schneider seemed destined for the kind of whatever-happened-to obscurity normally associated with failed child television stars and mid-career burnouts. Heroin-addicted and disheartened, she disappeared for a short while, but came back soon thereafter, and has appeared in more than 30 films since. Born March 27, 1952, in Paris, Schneider made her film debut in Jean-Pierre Blanc's La Vieille Fille in 1971, though true notoriety came the next year with her role as Marlon Brando's young lover in Last Tango in Paris. Daughter of actor Daniel Gélin (Is Paris Burning? [1966]), Schneider was originally cast in the role of Conchita in Luis Buñuel's final film, That Obscure Object of Desire (1977), but was fired shortly into filming and replaced with two actresses (Ángela Molina and Carole Bouquet). Schneider has also appeared in Franco Zeffirelli's Jane Eyre (1996) and as herself in Les Acteurs (2000).

Movie Highlights

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  • Left home at age 15, making her living selling drawings for restaurant menus; modeling; and serving as an extra in films.
  • Briefly lived with French film star Brigitte Bardot, a former co-star of her father, Daniel Gelin. 
  • Left the set of Caligula in 1975 to check into a mental hospital in Rome; also stormed out of shooting for Conchita in 1977 after disagreements with the director over his treatment of female roles.
  • Turned down the role of Mary in the 1977 mini-series Jesus of Nazareth.
  • Worked with an organization called The Wheel Turns, providing help to aging French actors looking for work.