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Danielle Darrieux (1917 – 2017), star glowed in French cinema for over 80 years

Getty Images / INA / Jean Adda

French movie star for over 80 years

Danielle Darrieux, a lead actress of French cinema for over 80 years, died Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, according to multiple news sources. She was 100.

Renowned not only for her acting ability and beauty, but also for the incredible longevity of her career, Darrieux appeared in well over 100 films between 1931 and 2010. Highlights of her career include "Mayerling" (1936), "The Earrings of Madame de …" (1953), and "8 Women" (2002).


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Darrieux was born May 1, 1917, in Bordeaux, France. Raised in Paris, she studied cello at the Paris Conservatory and appeared in her first film, "Le Bal" (1931), when she was 14. She starred in a series of successful musical comedies and married director Henri Decoin in 1935. Her beauty and appeal at the box office caught the eye of Hollywood, and she was brought to the United States to star in Universal Studio's 1938 film "The Rage of Paris." She opted to return to Europe after completing the motion picture.

During World War II, Darrieux continued to star in films despite the Nazi control of the French film business. At one point, her name appeared on a French Resistance death list for alleged collaboration. She divorced her first husband and married the Dominican Republic diplomat and notorious playboy Porfirio Rubirosa in 1942. Anti-German statements he made led the couple to move to Switzerland until the war's end. After the war, she was forgiven by members of the French Resistance, but her popularity waned for several years.

She divorced Rubirosa in 1947 and married screenwriter Georges Mitsikides, whom she remained married to until his death in 1991. She also enjoyed a renaissance in her acting fortunes, appearing in the American musical "Rich, Young, and Pretty" in 1951 and the spy film "5 Fingers" in 1952. This helped to reaffirm her status as an international star.

She also cultivated working relationships with top directors. She starred in a trio of films by the German-born director Max Ophüls, "La Ronde" (1950), "House of Pleasure," (1952) and the acclaimed "The Earrings of Madame de…" (1953). "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" director Jacques Demy cast her in two of his later musicals, "The Young Girls of Rochefort" (1967) and "Une Chamber en Ville" (1982), in which every line of dialogue is sung.

She received an honorary César Award, the French national film award, in 1985 for the longevity of her career in the French film industry. She won several more acting awards for her performance in the dark-comedy musical "8 Women," which featured several generations of famous French actresses.

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