Jeanne Moreau

Jeanne Moreau Biography

Jeanne Moreau (23 January 1928 – 31 July 2017) was a French actress, singer, screenwriter and director. She won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress for Seven Days... Seven Nights (1960), the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress for Viva Maria! (1965), and the Csar Award for Best Actress for The Old Lady Who Walked in the Sea (1992). She has also been the recipient of several lifetime awards, including a BAFTA Fellowship in 1996.

Moreau made her theatrical debut in 1947, and established herself as one of the leading actresses of the Comdie-Franaise. She began playing small roles in films in 1949, impressing in a Fernandel vehicle Meutres? (Three Sinners, 1950), and alongside Jean Gabin as a showgirl/gangster's moll in the film Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954). She achieved prominence as the star of Elevator to the Gallows (1958), directed by Louis Malle, and Jules et Jim (1962), directed by Franois Truffaut. Most prolific during the 1960s, Moreau continued to appear in films into her eighties.

Early life and education

Moreau was born in Paris, the daughter of Katherine ( Buckley), a dancer who performed at the Folies Bergre (d.1990), and Anatole-Dsir Moreau, a restaurateur (d.1975). Moreau's father was French; her mother was English, a native of Lancashire in England, and of part-Irish descent. Moreau's father was Catholic and her mother, originally a Protestant, converted to Catholicism upon marriage. When a young girl, "the family moved south to Vichy, spending vacations at the ancestral village of Mazirat, a town of 30 houses in a valley in the Allier. "It was wonderful there", Moreau said. "Every tombstone in the cemetery was for a Moreau". During the war, the family was split and Moreau lived with her mother in Paris. Moreau ultimately lost interest in school at age 16 and, after attending a performance of Jean Anouilh's Antigone, found her calling as an actor. She later studied at the Conservatoire de Paris. Her parents separated permanently while Moreau was at the conservatory and her mother, "after 24 difficult years in France, returned to England with Jeanne's younger sister, Michelle."


In 1947, Moreau made her theatrical debut at the Avignon Festival. She debuted at the Comdie-Franaise in Ivan Turgenev's A Month in the Country and, by her twenties, was already one of leading actresses in the theatre's troupe. After 1949, she began appearing in films with small parts but continued primarily active in the theatre for several years"?a year at the Thtre National Populaire opposite among others Grard Philipe and Robert Hirsch, then a breakout two years in dual roles in The Dazzling Hour by Anna Bonacci, then Jean Cocteau's La Machine Infernale and others before another two-year run, this time in Shaw's Pygmalion. From the late 1950s, after appearing in several successful films, she began to work with the emerging generation of French film-makers. Elevator to the Gallows (1958) with first-time director Louis Malle was followed by Malle's The Lovers (Les Amants, 1959).

Largely thanks to these films, Moreau went on to work with many of the best known New Wave and avant-garde directors. Franois Truffaut's New Wave film Jules et Jim (1962), her biggest success internationally, is centred on her magnetic starring role. She also worked with a number of other notable directors such as Michelangelo Antonioni (La notte and Beyond the Clouds), Orson Welles (The Trial, Chimes at Midnight and The Immortal Story), Luis Buuel (Diary of a Chambermaid), Elia Kazan (The Last Tycoon), Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Querelle), Wim Wenders (Until the End of the World), Carl Foreman (Champion and The Victors), and Manoel de Oliveira (Gebo et l'Ombre).

In 1983, she was head of the jury at the 33rd Berlin International Film Festival. In 2005, she was awarded with the Stanislavsky Award at the 27th Moscow International Film Festival.

Moreau was also a vocalist. She released several albums and once performed with Frank Sinatra at Carnegie Hall. In addition to acting, Moreau worked behind the camera, as a writer, director and producer. Her blended accomplishments were the subject of a film profile, Calling the Shots (1988), by Janis Cole and Holly Dale.

Personal life

Throughout her life, Moreau maintained friendships with prominent writers such as Jean Cocteau, Jean Genet, Henry Miller and Marguerite Duras (an interview with Moreau is included in Duras's book Outside: Selected Writings). She was formerly married to Jean-Louis Richard (1949-1964) and then to American film director William Friedkin (1977-1979). Director Tony Richardson left his wife, Vanessa Redgrave, for her in 1967 but they never married. She also had affairs with directors Louis Malle and Franois Truffaut, fashion designer Pierre Cardin, jazz trumpeter Miles Davis and Theodoros Roubanis, the Greek actor/playboy.

Moreau was a close friend of Sharon Stone, who presented a 1998 American Academy of Motion Pictures life tribute to Moreau. Orson Welles called her "the greatest actress in the world", and she remained one of France's most accomplished actresses.

Moreau died on 31 July 2017, at the age of 89.

Selected filmography


Year Title Role Director
1950 ' Martine Annequin Richard Pottier
1952 The Man in My Life Suzanne Dubreuil Guy Lefranc
1953 Dortoir des grandes Julie Henri Decoin
Julietta Rosie Facibey Marc Allgret
1954 Touchez pas au grisbi Josy Jacques Becker
Les Intrigantes Mona Rmi Henri Decoin
La Reine Margot Margaret of Valois Jean Drville
1958 Ascenseur pour l'chafaud Florence Carala Louis Malle
The Lovers (Les amants) Jeanne Tournier
1959 Les liaisons dangereuses Juliette de Merteuil Roger Vadim
The 400 Blows (cameo appearance) Franois Truffaut
1960 ' Mre Marie de l'Incarnation Philippe Agostini
Moderato Cantabile Anne Desbardes Peter Brook
1961 A Woman Is a Woman (uncredited cameo, discussing Jules et Jim) Jean-Luc Godard
La Notte Lidia Michelangelo Antonioni
1962 The Trial Miss Burstner Orson Welles
Jules et Jim Catherine Franois Truffaut
Eva Eva Olivier Joseph Losey
1963 Banana Peel (Peau de banane) Cathy Marcel Ophls
The Victors the French lady Carl Foreman
The Fire Within (Le feu follet) Eva Louis Malle
Bay of Angels Jacqueline "Jackie" Demaistre Jacques Demy
1964 Diary of a Chambermaid Clestine Luis Buuel
The Train Christine John Frankenheimer
The Yellow Rolls-Royce Eloise, Marchioness of Frinton Anthony Asquith
Mata Hari, Agent H21 Mata Hari Jean-Louis Richard
1965 Viva Maria! Maria I Louis Malle
Chimes at Midnight Doll Tearsheet Orson Welles
1966 Mademoiselle "Mademoiselle" Tony Richardson
1967 The Oldest Profession (episode "Mademoiselle Mimi") Mimi Guillotine Philippe de Broca
The Sailor from Gibraltar Anna Tony Richardson
1968 The Immortal Story Virginie Ducrot Orson Welles
Great Catharine Catharine Gordon Flemyng
The Bride Wore Black Julie Kohler Franois Truffaut
1970 The Little Theatre of Jean Renoir the singer Jean Renoir
Monte Walsh Martine Bernard William A. Fraker
1972 Chre Louise Louise Philippe de Broca
Nathalie Granger "the other woman" Marguerite Duras
1974 Les Valseuses Jeanne Pirolle Bertrand Blier
1975 Joanna Francesa Joanna Cac Diegues
Hu-man Sylvana Jrme Laperrousaz
1976 The Last Tycoon Didi Elia Kazan
Monsieur Klein Florence Joseph Losey
1982 Querelle Lysiane Rainer Werner Fassbinder
La Truite Lou Joseph Losey
1986 Le Tiroir secret (TV miniseries) Vivi (different directors)
1987 The Miracle Sabine Jean-Pierre Mocky
1990 Nikita Amande Luc Besson
Alberto Express the Baroness Arthur Joff
1991 Anna Karamazoff the Lady Rustam Khamdamov
To meteoro vima tou pelargou the Lady Theo Angelopoulos
The Old Lady Who Walked in the Sea Lady M Laurent Heynemann
Until the End of the World Edith Farber Wim Wenders
1992 The Absence the writer's wife Peter Handke
1993 A Foreign Field Angelique Charles Sturridge
Catherine the Great Empress Elizabeth Petrovna Marvin J. Chomsky
Map of the Human Heart Sister Banville Vincent Ward
The Summer House Lili Waris Hussein
1995 Beyond the Clouds a Lady Michelangelo Antonioni and Wim Wenders
1996 The Proprietor Adrienne Mark Ismail Merchant
I Love You, I Love You Not Nana Billy Hopkins
1997 Witch Way Love Eglantine Ren Manzor
1998 Ever After Marie Thrse of France Andy Tennant
2001 ' Marguerite Duras Jose Dayan
2003 Love Actually Lady at Marseilles Airport (cameo) Richard Curtis
Les parents terribles Tante Leo Jose Dayan
2005 Time to Leave Laura Franois Ozon
' (TV miniseries) Mahaut, Countess of Artois Jose Dayan
2006 Romo et Juliette Laurence Yves Desgagns
2007 Dsengagement Franoise Amos Gitai
2009 Face Jeanne Ming-liang Tsai
2012 Gebo et l'Ombre Candidinha Manoel de Oliveira
2012 ' Frida Ilmar Raag


  • Lumire (1976)
  • L'Adolescente (1979)
  • Lillian Gish (1983, TV documentary)

Awards and nominations


Year Group Award Film Result
2008 Csar Awards Honorary Csar Lifetime achievement Won
2005 Moscow International Film Festival Stanislavsky Prize Lifetime achievement Won
2003 Cannes Film Festival Honorary Golden Palm Lifetime achievement Won
2003 Taormina International Film Festival Taormina Arte Award Lifetime achievement Won
2001 Pusan International Film Festival Hand Printing (tribute) Lifetime achievement Won
2000 Berlin International Film Festival Honorary Golden Berlin Bear Lifetime achievement Won
1999 Hamptons International Film Festival Distinguished Achievement Award Lifetime achievement Won
1999 Crteil International Women's Film Festival Homage Lifetime achievement Won
1998 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Tribute Lifetime achievement Won
1997 European Film Awards Life Achievement Award Lifetime achievement Won
1997 San Sebastin International Film Festival Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award Lifetime achievement Won
1996 BAFTA Awards Academy Fellowship Lifetime achievement Won
1995 Csar Awards Honorary Csar Lifetime achievement Won
1994 [[Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards|Women in Film Crystal Award]] International Award Lifetime achievement Won
1992 Venice Film Festival Career Golden Lion Lifetime achievement Won
1992 Csar Awards Best Actress The Old Lady Who Walked in the Sea Won
1988 Csar Awards Best Actress Le Miracul Nominated
1987 Csar Awards Best Supporting Actress Le Paltoquet Nominated
1984 Razzie Awards Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song Querelle - song: "Young and Joyful Bandit" Nominated
1979 Berlin International Film Festival Golden Berlin Bear L'adolescente Nominated
1979 Chicago International Film Festival Gold Hugo L'adolescente Nominated
1976 Chicago International Film Festival Gold Hugo Lumire Nominated
1976 Taormina International Film Festival Golden Charybdis Lumire Nominated
1967 BAFTA Awards Best Foreign Actress Viva Maria! Won
1964 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Best Actress Diary of a Chambermaid Won
1963 BAFTA Awards Best Foreign Actress Jules et Jim Nominated
1962 Jussi Awards Diploma of Merit - Foreign Actress La notte Won
1961 Fotogramas de Plata Best Foreign Performer Le dialogue des Carmlites Won
1960 Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Moderato cantabile Won
1958 Venice Film Festival Best Actress Les amants Won


Year Group Award Play Result
1988 Molire Awards Best Actress Le Rcit de la servante Zerline Won

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