Romy Schneider: Is her death at 43 still a mystery?

ROMY SCHNEIDER.

Romy Schneider: Is her death at 43 still a mystery?

ROMY SCHNEIDER. Romy Schneider continues to fascinate moviegoers, 40 years after her death which continues to raise questions. Natural death, overdose, suicide, here are the tracks mentioned since 1982.

[Updated May 20, 2022 at 8:45 p.m.] Romy Schneider continues to fascinate moviegoers and audiences alike. France 3 devotes a documentary to the actress of Sissi returning to her greatest roles but also her life, made of dramas and passionate love stories, in particular with Alain Delon. On May 29, 1982, the actress died at the age of 43 in circumstances that raised questions for a long time. She was buried on June 2, 1982, just one year after the tragic death of her son David.

Romy Schneider is found dead in her Parisian apartment by her companion at the time, Laurent Pétin. On the spot, the police find alcohol, drugs and an unfinished letter in which she apologizes for her absence to an interview and a photo shoot. The thesis of suicide is then evoked in the media as well as that of a drug overdose. These two theories are formally contradicted by those close to the actress. Her sister-in-law and friend, Claude Pétin, evoked in 2012 a natural death following a heart attack. She then relies on the report written by a police commissioner. Romy Schneider's daughter, Sarah Biasini, also claimed in 2018 that her mother was never addicted to any substance.

Romy Schneider was born on September 23, 1938 in Vienna, Austria. She is the daughter of actress Magda Schneider and Wolf Albach Retty. In 1953 Romy Schneider enrolled in a drama school and, aged only fifteen, landed her first role playing the character of Magda Schneider's daughter in the film "White Lilas". The film is a success and will be followed by other roles, but she will become really famous after playing the role of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, in the Sissi series. She will play this character for three films.

In 1958, director Pierre Gaspard-Huit offered her the title role in a remake of Christine by Max Ophüls. It was the start of a beautiful romance with his on-screen partner, Alain Delon, but that only lasted five years. However, her very stereotypical image of Sissi sticks to her skin and it is thanks to her meeting with Luchino Visconti that she will have the opportunity to change register. In 1961, he offered her a role in "Too bad she's a whore", alongside Alain Delon.

His career shot to international prominence with several Hollywood films including Jack Lemmon's "Lend Me Your Husband" and "What's Up, Pussycat?" by Woody Allen in 1965. His performance in "The Trial" by Orson Welles in 1963 finally allowed him to break his idol image. A few years later, she agreed to take over the role that revealed her, that of Elisabeth of Austria, before winning the César for best actress the following year with the film "Les Choses de la vie" followed by a second award for "The Important is to love" in 1979. His last film was "La Passante du Sans-Souci" because only a month later Romy Schneider died of a heart attack whose causes remain undetermined.

In the minds of many moviegoers, Romy Schneider remains the unforgettable Empress Sissi. As early as the 1950s, director Ernst Marischka had in mind the idea of ​​filming the story of Elisabeth of Austria, in a highly fictionalized version. For him, no doubt, Romy Schneider will allow the production to be a success. Her mother, Magda Schneider, also plays the mother of the Empress on this occasion. The film Sissi was released in 1955 in Austria, two years later in France: it was a real popular success, particularly in Austria and Germany where the receipts exceeded those of Gone with the Wind. Romy Schneider is therefore erected to the rank of star. Other episodes will then be filmed: Empress Sissi, then Sissi facing her destiny. But as the projects follow one another, Romy Schneider is more and more reluctant to participate in these sequels, wishing to detach herself from the role of the Empress. Opposing a fourth episode, the actress will even declare "I hate this image of Sissi".

For five years, Romy Schneider and Alain Delon formed the most glamorous couple in cinema. The two actors met on the remake of Christine in 1958. However, it was not love at first sight: the actress finds her on-screen partner too arrogant, and he is annoyed that she do not speak French. But yet, the magic happens, and they fall in love on the set of the film. They became engaged on March 22, 1959 and were given the nickname "the fiancés of Europe". Romy Schneider leaves to settle with Alain Delon in Paris.

However, their relationship will gradually crumble: while Delon is on the rise in his career, Schneider appears less and less on the screen. Finally, in 1963, Romy Schneider received a breakup letter from her fiancé, who left her for Nathalie Sand, who was pregnant with the actor's first son, Anthony Delon. After Romy Schneider's death on May 29, 1982, Alain Delon wrote to her on a piece of paper: "You have never been so beautiful. You see, I learned a few German words for you: Ich liebe dich meine Liebe" ("I love you my love").

In 1969, it has been six years since Romy Schneider and Alain Delon broke off their engagement. However, their paths cross again during a shoot. The mythical couple of the seventh art is reformed, in front of the cameras only, in La Piscine by Jacques Deray. In this film released in 1969, they play two lovers, whose relationship will be upset by the arrival of another couple of friends during their holidays in Saint-Tropez. At the time, Romy Schneider saw her career stagnate, having chosen to raise her son rather than find the film sets. The reunion of Delon and Schneider for the purposes of this film throws a real spotlight on the film and revives the actress' career. After the swimming pool, she was hired by Claude Sautet to play in Les chose de la vie.

Romy Schneider had two children: her son David Christopher Meyen from her union with actor Harry Meyen, and a daughter, Sarah Biasini, from her marriage to Franco-Italian journalist Daniel Biasini. The actress would never have recovered from the death of her eldest son in 1981: David, then aged fourteen, climbed a gate two meters high. Unfortunately, he loses his balance and falls on the spikes of the grid, which pierce his femoral artery. The teenager dies in the night. Romy Schneider was very affected by this death, a year after her own death. Especially since paparazzi pretended to be nurses to photograph his dead son during the funeral service. In the Champes-Elysées program in April 1982, the actress returned, furious, to this painful moment: "That journalists disguised themselves as nurses to photograph a dead child... Where is the morality? Where is the tact?"

Romy Schneider's youngest daughter followed in her mother's footsteps. Born on July 21, 1977, Sarah Biasini is indeed a French actress, also known for her affiliation with the German actress. Her father is the Franco-Italian journalist Daniel Biasini. Romy Schneider's daughter has mainly played on the stage, but has also made a few appearances in film and television: on the big screen, we could see her in My little finger told me (2005), A man and His Dog (2009), Sleep My Rabbit (2012), and Partners Against Crime (2012). On television, we have been able to see her in several TV movies, such as Julie, Chevalier de Maupin, Le temps du silence, Le general du roi or Couleur locale. She gave birth to a daughter in 2018, born of her relationship with director Gil Lefeuvre.

Romy Schneider was found dead on May 29, 1982 in her Paris apartment. The macabre discovery is made by his companion, Laurent Pétin. The actress was 43 years old. About 40 years after his death, his death is still unsolved. Police find an unfinished letter at the scene, a note to cancel a photography and interview session with a crossing out suggesting she collapsed while writing it, as well as alcohol and drugs. Several theses are evoked to explain the sudden death of this icon of the seventh art: natural death, accident or suicide. The magistrate Laurent Davenas, in charge of the case, will decide to classify it without follow-up in order "not to break the myth". According to Claude Pétin, one of her close friends, the death of Romy Schneider would be quite natural. His daughter, Sarah Biasini, will confirm in 2018 that her mother did not suffer from addiction, whether to alcohol or drugs. Romy Schneider was buried on June 2, 1982.


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