Jean-Paul Belmondo, icon of the French cinema, died this Monday at the age of 88 at his home in Paris, according to the actor’s lawyer. With the death of this boxer-faced seducer, France loses one of the last great popular stars and one of its most established performers.
“He had been very tired for some time. He faded quietly,” his lawyer, Michel Godest, told AFP. “Bébel” died at his home in the French capital, with more than 80 films behind him.
“National treasure”, “an inimitable face and insolence”, “a French legend” … These were the descriptions that were given to say goodbye to one of the last references, along with Alain Delon and Brigitte Bardot, of a memorable generation of the French seventh art.
“He was a national treasure,” “a sublime hero and family figure, a tireless daredevil and wizard of the word,” tweeted French President Emmanuel Macron, underscoring his role in “Le Magnifique” (“How to destroy the most famous agent secret of the world “, 1973).
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His fame came, however, from the hand of Jean-Luc Godard, acclaimed director of the Nouvelle Vague, who guided him under the skin of a captivating criminal in the iconic “À bout de souffle” (“Out of breath”, “Al Edge of the Getaway “, 1960).
“Come to my room, we will make a movie and I will give you 50 thousand francs,” Godard then told Belmondo, whom he had passed on the street. The interpreter was not yet 30 years old.
After the success of the film, the filmmakers “came to me,” Belmondo wrote in a 2016 scrapbook, “Mille vies valent mieux qu’une” (“A thousand lives are worth more than one”).
Throughout his career, Belmondo worked with film legends such as Vittorio de Sica, François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Alain Resnais or Claude Lelouch
Besides occupying a central role in the Nouvelle Vague, “Bébel” also left the mark of a physical actor, lover of fights, cultivating a great dose of humor, as he did in “Le Cerveau” (“The Brain”, 1969) .
His boxer physique would earn him popular hits in “L’homme de Rio” (“The Man from Rio”, 1964) by Philippe De Broca, “Le Professionnel” (“The Professional”, 1981) by Georges Lautner or “L ‘ as des as “(” Ace of aces “, 1982), by Gérard Oury.
His career was thus strewn with successes, to which are added “Pierrot le fou” (Pierrot the madman, 1965) by Godard or “Itinéraire d’un enfant gâté (The Empire of the Lion, 1988) by Lelouch, for which he won a Caesar for best actor.
However, a stroke in 2001 overshadowed his star and made him virtually disappear from the screen. But he remained one of the benchmarks of the seventh art, “one of the last heroes of French cinema”, for the actor Jean Dujardin.
The Cannes Festival rewarded his entire career with a Palm of Honor in 2011 and the Venice Film Festival with a Golden Lion five years later.
The eternal seducer
Born on April 9, 1933 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, an affluent suburb of Paris, Belmondo grew up in a family of artists. His father, of Italian origin, was a renowned sculptor.
The love life of this eternally tanned seducer fed the press of the heart. After the divorce with his second wife, the star Natty, he had a relationship with a former Belgian model, from whom he finally separated in 2012.
Belmondo was the father of four children: Patricia (tragically deceased), Florence, Paul and Stella, whom he had at age 70.
Jean Paul Belmondo “has gone to meet his old friends from the Conservatory,” wrote his family in a statement, about the death of this “pillar”, whose “frank smile will always be there.”