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Jeanne Moreau

Jeanne Moreau
Moreau in 1958
Born(1928-01-23)23 January 1928
Paris, France
Died31 July 2017(2017-07-31) (aged 89)
Paris, France
Resting placeMontmartre Cemetery, Paris
Alma materConservatoire de Paris
  • Actress
  • screenwriter
  • film director
Years active1947–2015
(m. 1949; div. 1951)
(m. 1977; div. 1979)

Jeanne Moreau (French pronunciation: [ʒan mɔʁo]; 23 January 1928 – 31 July 2017) was a French actress, singer, screenwriter, director, and socialite. She made her theatrical debut in 1947, and established herself as one of the leading actresses of the Comédie-Française. Moreau began playing small roles in films in 1949, later achieving prominence with starring roles in Louis Malle's Elevator to the Gallows (1958), Michelangelo Antonioni's La Notte (1961), and François Truffaut's Jules et Jim (1962). Most prolific during the 1960s, Moreau continued to appear in films into her 80s. Orson Welles called her "the greatest actress in the world".[1][2][3]

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 César Award for Best Actress for The Old Lady Who Walked in the Sea (1992). She was also the recipient of several lifetime achievement awards, including a BAFTA Fellowship in 1996, a Cannes Golden Palm in 2003, and another César Award in 2008.

Early life and education

Moreau was born in Paris, the daughter of Katherine (née Buckley), a dancer who performed at the Folies Bergère (d. 1990), and Anatole-Désiré Moreau, a restaurateur (d. 1975).[4][5] Moreau's father was French; her mother was English, a native of Oldham, Lancashire, England[2] and of part Irish descent.[5][6][7] Moreau's father was Catholic and her mother, originally a Protestant, converted to Catholicism upon marriage.[5] When Jeanne was a young girl, "the family moved south to Vichy, spending vacations at the paternal 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 World War II, the family was split, and Moreau lived with her mother in Paris. Moreau ultimately lost interest in school and, at age 16, 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[8] sister, Michelle."[8]


In 1947, Moreau made her theatrical debut at the Avignon Festival. She debuted at the Comédie-Française in Ivan Turgenev's A Month in the Country[8] and, by her 20s, was already one of the leading actresses in the theatre's troupe.[5] After 1949, she began appearing in films with small parts but continued primarily active in the theatre for several years — a year at the Théâtre National Populaire opposite among others Gérard 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.[8] 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).[9]

Moreau went on to work with many of the best known New Wave and avant-garde directors.[5] François Truffaut's New Wave film Jules et Jim (1962), her biggest success internationally, is centered on her magnetic starring role.[5] 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 Buñuel (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.[10] In 2005, she was awarded with the Stanislavsky Award at the 27th Moscow International Film Festival.[11]

Moreau was also a vocalist. She released several albums and once performed with Frank Sinatra at Carnegie Hall in 1984.[5] In addition to acting, Moreau worked behind the camera as a writer, director and producer.[5] Her accomplishments were the subject of the film Calling the Shots (1988) by Janis Cole and Holly Dale.[citation needed] She appeared in Rosa von Praunheim's film Fassbinder's Women (2000).

Personal life

Moreau in 2009
Jeanne Moreau's grave in Montmartre Cemetery.

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 formerly was married to Jean-Louis Richard (1949–1964, separated in 1951), and then to American film director William Friedkin (1977–1979). She and Richard had a son, Jérôme.[12] Director Tony Richardson left his wife Vanessa Redgrave for her in 1967, but they never married.[13] She also had relationships with directors Louis Malle and François Truffaut, fashion designer Pierre Cardin,[14] and the Greek actor/playboy Theodoros Roubanis.[15]

In 1971, Jeanne Moreau was a signatory of the Manifesto of the 343 which publicly announced that she had obtained an illegal abortion.[16]

Moreau was a close friend of Sharon Stone, who presented a 1998 American Academy of Motion Pictures life tribute to Moreau at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, academy headquarters, in Beverly Hills. Orson Welles called her "the greatest actress in the world",[1][2][3] and she remained one of France's most accomplished actresses.

In 2009, Moreau signed a petition in support of director Roman Polanski, who had been detained while traveling to a film festival in relation to his 1977 sexual abuse charges, which the petition argued would undermine the tradition of film festivals as a place for works to be shown "freely and safely", and that arresting filmmakers traveling to neutral countries could open the door "for actions of which no-one can know the effects."[17][18]

Moreau died on 31 July 2017 at her home in Paris at the age of 89.[3] Her body was discovered by her cleaning maid and shortly before her death, she said she felt "abandoned" because she could not act anymore.[19][20]


This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (August 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this message)


Year Title Role Director Notes
1949 Last Love Michèle Jean Stelli
1950 Murders Martine Annequin Richard Pottier
Pigalle-Saint-Germain-des-Prés La môme Pâquerette André Berthomieu
1952 The Man in My Life Suzanne Dubreuil Guy Lefranc
Il est minuit, docteur Schweitzer Marie Winter André Haguet
1953 Dortoir des grandes Julie Henri Decoin
Julietta Rosie Facibey Marc Allégret
1954 Touchez pas au grisbi Josy Jacques Becker
Les Intrigantes Mona Rémi Henri Decoin
Secrets d'alcôve Jeanne Plisson Various directors (segment "Billet de logement, Le")
Queen Margot Margaret of Valois Jean Dréville
1955 The DoctorsLes Hommes en blanc Marianne Déjazet Ralph Habib
M'sieur la Caille Fernande André Pergament
Gas-Oil Alice Gilles Grangier
1956 The Wages of Sin Angèle Ribot Denys de la Patellière
1957 Until the Last One Gina Pierre Billon
The She-Wolves Agnès Vanaux Luis Saslavsky
L'étrange Monsieur Steve Florence Raymond Bailly
Three Days to Live Jeanne Fortin Gilles Grangier
1958 Not Delivered Jacqueline Tourieu
Ascenseur pour l'échafaud Florence Carala Louis Malle
Back to the Wall Gloria Decrey Édouard Molinaro
Les amants Jeanne Tournier Louis Malle
1959 The 400 Blows Woman with Dog François Truffaut cameo appearance
Les liaisons dangereuses Juliette de Merteuil Roger Vadim
1960 Five Branded Women Ljuba Martin Ritt
Moderato Cantabile Anne Desbarèdes Peter Brook Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress
Dialogue with the Carmelites Mère Marie de l'Incarnation Philippe Agostini
1961 La Notte Lidia Pontano Michelangelo Antonioni
A Woman Is a Woman Woman in Bar Jean-Luc Godard Uncredited, discussing Jules et Jim
1962 Jules et Jim Catherine François Truffaut
Eva Eva Olivier Joseph Losey
The Trial Miss Burstner Orson Welles
1963 Bay of Angels Jacqueline "Jackie" Demaistre Jacques Demy
The Fire Within (Le feu follet) Eva Louis Malle
Banana Peel (Peau de banane) Cathy Marcel Ophüls
The Victors the French lady Carl Foreman
1964 Diary of a Chambermaid Célestine Luis Buñuel
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 (segment "Mademoiselle Mimi")
The Sailor from Gibraltar Anna Tony Richardson
1968 The Bride Wore Black Julie Kohler François Truffaut
The Immortal Story Virginie Ducrot Orson Welles TV movie
Great Catherine Catherine Gordon Flemyng
1969 Le Corps de Diane Diane Vallier Jean-Louis Richard
1970 Monte Walsh Martine Bernard William A. Fraker
The Little Theatre of Jean Renoir the singer Jean Renoir TV movie, (segment "Quand l'amour meurt")
The Deep Ruth Warriner Orson Welles Filming was unfinished
Alex in Wonderland Herself Paul Mazursky
1971 Comptes à rebours Madeleine St Rose Roger Pigaut
1972 Chère Louise Louise Philippe de Broca
L'humeur vagabonde Myriam Bingeot Édouard Luntz
Nathalie Granger "the other woman" Marguerite Duras
Repeated Absences nostalgie Guy Gilles Voice
1973 Joanna Francesa Joana Cacá Diegues
1974 Je t'aime Elisa Boussac Pierre Duceppe
Les Valseuses Jeanne Pirolle Bertrand Blier
Creezy Renee Vibert Pierre Granier-Deferre
1975 The Garden That Tilts Maria Guy Gilles
Hu-Man Sylvana Jérôme Laperrousaz
1976 Lumière Sarah Dedieu Jeanne Moreau
Monsieur Klein Florence Joseph Losey
The Last Tycoon Didi Elia Kazan
1979 The Adolescent La narratrice Jeanne Moreau Voice, Uncredited
1981 Plein sud Hélène, la mère de Caroline Luc Béraud
Your Ticket Is No Longer Valid Lili Marlene George Kaczender
1982 A Thousand Billion Dollars Mme Benoît-Lambert Henri Verneuil
Querelle Lysiane Rainer Werner Fassbinder
La Truite Lou Rambert Joseph Losey
1985 Vicious Circle Ines TV play
1986 Le paltoquet The Brothel-Keeper Michel Deville
Sauve-toi, Lola Marie-Aude Schneider Michel Drach
1986–1987 Le Tiroir secret Vivi (different directors) 2 episodes
1987 The Miracle Sabine Jean-Pierre Mocky
Remake Herself Ansano Giannarelli
1989 Jour après jour Janine Weisman Alain Attal
1990 La Femme Nikita Amande Luc Besson
Alberto Express the Baroness Arthur Joffé
La Femme fardée Le Doria José Pinheiro
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 Lover Narrator Jean-Jacques Annaud Voice
Map of the Human Heart Sister Banville Vincent Ward
La nuit de l'océan Hélène Sauveterre Antoine Perset
The Absence the writer's wife Peter Handke
À demain Tete Didier Martiny
1993 Screen Two Lili Waris Hussein Episode: "The Clothes in the Wardrobe"
Je m'appelle Victor Rose Guy Jacques
Screen One Angelique Charles Sturridge Episode: "A Foreign Field"
1995 One Hundred and One Nights La première ex-épouse de M. Cinéma Agnès Varda
Catherine the Great Empress Elizabeth Petrovna Marvin J. Chomsky
Beyond the Clouds a Lady Michelangelo Antonioni and Wim Wenders
1996 I Love You, I Love You Not Nana Billy Hopkins
The Proprietor Adrienne Mark Ismail Merchant
1997 Amour et confusions Libra Patrick Braoudé
Witch Way Love Eglantine René Manzor
1998 Ever After Grande Dame Andy Tennant
1999 Balzac [fr] Charlotte-Laure de Balzac Josée Dayan TV movie
2000 The Prince's Manuscript Alessandra Wolf (Licy) Roberto Andò
Les Misérables Mere Innocente Josée Dayan 4 episodes
2001 Lisa Lisa (old) Pierre Grimblat
Cet amour-là [fr] Marguerite Duras Josée Dayan
2003 Love Actually Lady at Marseilles Airport Richard Curtis Uncredited
Les Parents terribles [fr] Tante Leo Josée Dayan
2005 Akoibon Madame Paule Édouard Baer
Time to Leave Laura François Ozon
Go West Novinar Ahmed Imamović
Les Rois maudits [fr] Mahaut, Countess of Artois Josée Dayan 5 episodes
2006 Roméo et Juliette Laurence Yves Desgagnés
2007 Chacun son cinéma The old woman / Herself Various directors (segment "Trois Minutes")
Désengagement Françoise Amos Gitai
2008 One Day You'll Understand Rivka Amos Gitai
Everywhere at Once Narrator Holly Fisher
2009 Carmel Amos Gitai Voice
Face Jeanne Ming-liang Tsai
La guerre des fils de la lumière contre les fils des ténèbres Amos Gitai
Kérity, la maison des contes Aunt Eleanor Dominique Monfery Voice
2012 Une estonienne à Paris [fr] Frida Ilmar Raag
Gebo et l'Ombre Candidinha Manoel de Oliveira
2015 Le talent de mes amis La grand-mère de Thibault Alex Lutz (final film role)


Awards and nominations

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Year Group Award Film Result
2008 César Awards Honorary César Lifetime achievement Won
2005 Moscow International Film Festival Stanislavsky Award 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 Bear Lifetime achievement Won
1999 Hamptons International Film Festival Distinguished Achievement Award Lifetime achievement Won
1999 Créteil 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 Sebastián International Film Festival Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award Lifetime achievement Won
1996 BAFTA Awards Academy Fellowship Lifetime achievement Won
1995 César Awards Honorary César Lifetime achievement Won
1994 Women in Film Crystal Award International Award Lifetime achievement Won
1992 Venice Film Festival Career Golden Lion Lifetime achievement Won
1992 César Awards Best Actress The Old Lady Who Walked in the Sea Won
1988 César Awards Best Actress Le Miraculé Nominated
1987 César 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 Bear L'adolescente Nominated
1979 Chicago International Film Festival Gold Hugo L'adolescente Nominated
1976 Chicago International Film Festival Gold Hugo Lumière Nominated
1976 Taormina International Film Festival Golden Charybdis Lumière 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 Carmélites 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 Molière Awards Best Actress Le Récit de la servante Zerline Won


  1. ^ a b "People | Jeanne Moreau". Salon. Archived from the original on 24 May 2007.
  2. ^ a b c "Jeanne Moreau: French screen icon and star of Jules et Jim, dies at 89". BBC. 31 July 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Gates, Anita (31 July 2017). "Jeanne Moreau, Femme Fatale of French New Wave, Is Dead at 89". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  4. ^ "Jeanne Moreau Biography (1928–)".
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Stated in interview at Inside the Actors Studio
  6. ^ Famous French people of immigrant origin, Eupedia: France Guide
  7. ^ "Jeanne Moreau Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d Farrell, Barry, "Actresses: Making the Most of Love", Time cover story pp. 4–5, 5 March 1965. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  9. ^ Chapman, Peter (31 July 2017). "Jeanne Moreau, actress, 1928–2017". Financial Times. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Berlinale: 1983 Juries". Retrieved 14 November 2010.
  11. ^ "27th Moscow International Film Festival (2005)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  12. ^ Desta, Yohana (31 July 2017). "Jeanne Moreau, an Icon of French Cinema, Dies at 89". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  13. ^ needs substantiation
  14. ^ "Jeanne Moreau : bio de Jeanne Moreau". (in French). Archived from the original on 5 February 2009. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  15. ^ Roubanis was previously the companion of Henry Plumer McIlhenny. The relationship with McIlhenny was cited in Welsh and Tibbett's The Cinema of Tony Richardson (SUNY Press, 1999). Roubanis later married Lady Sarah Churchill. Lady Sarah Spencer-Churchill obituary, The Telegraph, 19 October 2000.
  16. ^ "manifeste des 343". 23 April 2001. Archived from the original on 23 April 2001. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  17. ^ "Le cinéma soutient Roman Polanski / Petition for Roman Polanski – SACD". 4 June 2012. Archived from the original on 4 June 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2022.
  18. ^ Shoard, Catherine; Agencies (29 September 2009). "Release Polanski, demands petition by film industry luminaries". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 28 June 2019. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  19. ^ "Jeanne Moreau est morte à l'âge de 89 ans". Le (in French). 31 July 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017..
  20. ^ "Avant sa mort, Jeanne Moreau "se sentait abandonnée"" (in French). 31 July 2017.
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Jeanne Moreau
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