For Catherine Deneuve's 80th birthday: More than just a pretty facade!

Grande Dame.

For Catherine Deneuve's 80th birthday: More than just a pretty facade!

Grande Dame. Nothing fits actress Catherine Deneuve as aptly as these two wonderful words. She is the great lady of French film, and what's more: most of her compatriots see her as the Grande Dame of France, who is particularly often talked about these days because she is celebrating a milestone birthday.

Catherine Deneuve turns 80 on October 22nd. It's hard to believe that this extraordinary and timelessly beautiful woman is getting on in years, because she still symbolizes French culture, elegance and French charm with dignity like no other.

The legendary French film director François Truffaut (1932-1984), with whom she made the brilliant film classics "The Secret of the False Bride" (1969, with Jean-Paul Belmondo) and "The Last Metro" (1980, with Gérard Depardieu), raved about Catherine Deneuve: "She is so beautiful that a film in which she plays can do without a story."

The native Parisian inherited the talent without which such a career would not have been possible from her parents. The mother Renée Deneuve (1911-2021) was a well-known theater actress under the name Renée Simonot, the father Maurice Dorléac (1901-1973) was successful in film. Her sister Françoise Dorléac (1942-1967), who was one and a half years older, also became an actress and was considered one of the great hopes of young French film.

Françoise persuaded the 13-year-old student Catherine to appear in the film "Young Roses in the Wind" (1957) during the summer holidays. The next film they made together was “The Little Sinners” in 1960. From then on the path was mapped out. In order not to compete with her big sister, she chose her mother's birth name - and - without any acting training - was successful as Catherine Deneuve.

Her breakthrough came with the film musical "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" (1964) by Jacques Demy (1931-1990). This poetic story of a broken childhood love also had a lasting impact on Catherine Deneuve's artistic image: from then on she was considered a blonde, cool and mysterious, sometimes enigmatic beauty. The 21-year-old was awarded the French film award Étoile de Cristal for best actress for her role.

However, the star of the family was the dark-haired sister Françoise Dorléac. She had great success in the Truffaut film "The Sweet Skin" (1964), played the female lead alongside Jean-Paul Belmondo (1933-2021) in the action comedy "Adventure in Rio" (1964) and in Roman Polanski's (90) thriller "When Katelbach comes..." (1966). And in the film musical “The Girls of Rochefort” (1967) both sisters were the main actresses as twins.

Then the drama happened that almost threw Catherine Deneuve off track. On June 26, 1967, Françoise Dorléac had a fatal accident while driving to Nice airport. She was only 25 years old. It was a shock for Catherine; it took her several years to come to terms with the death of her beloved sister, she later said in an interview.

She has made over 140 feature films so far and worked with great directors such as Roman Polanski, Luis Buñuel, François Truffaut, Benoît Jacquot, Régis Wargnier and François Ozon. She played heroines, prostitutes, murderesses, intellectuals, and once even in "Desire" (1983) a lesbian vampire who charms a scientist (Susan Sarandon).

She was the face of Chanel in the United States for almost ten years. She posed nude for Playboy (1965), embodied the French national figure Marianne, was printed on postage stamps and stood as a bust in the town halls of France. And she sang (without singing lessons), in a duet with Gérard Depardieu (74) or Joe Cocker (1944-2014). She even recorded an entire album of songs by Serge Gainsbourg (1928-1991).

She also opened her mouth in other ways, e.g. B. for the liberalization of abortion, against the death penalty in the USA and the war in Ukraine. She was a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, a member of the Waris Dirie Foundation (against female genital mutilation) and promoted Doctors Without Borders, but also for flirting

Her first great love was the director Roger Vadim (1928-2000), the ex-husband of Brigitte Bardot (89), who made Bardot a global star. In 1963, Catherine Deneuve had his son Christian Vadim (60), who also became an actor.

From 1965 to 1972 she was married to the English fashion photographer Davon Bailey (85), a key player in swinging London, based on whose model the cult film "Blow Up" (1966) by the film director Michelangelo Antonioni (1912-2007) was made.

The love of her life was the Italian film star Marcello Mastroianni (1924-1996). He lived with Catherine Deneuve in Paris, but was married to the actress Flora Carabella (1926-1999) until his death in Rome. Their daughter Chiara Mastroianni (51) was born in Paris in 1972. She also became a successful actress.

Catherine Deneuve was a close friend of the homosexual fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008), who dressed the star for over 40 years. After his death, Deneuve also "with a heavy heart" auctioned off 300 of the legendary designer's fashion pieces when selling her estate in Normandy.

Deneuve, who has no manners, has hardly any problems with age, apart from a minor stroke four years ago, which she survived well. She continues to smoke like a chimney and expresses her opinion quite bluntly, even in newspaper columns that she writes herself if necessary.

That's also "very clever," says the author of a birthday portrait in "Arte Magazine," "to be perceived as a symbol of controlled elegance and at the same time lead a deeply unconventional life." She once said about herself: "I'm rather unreasonable, and I prefer people who are also unreasonable."

She doesn't believe in excessive diets and wears eye-catching leopard coats with pumps, large earrings and a "honey-blonde blow-dry hairstyle" with dignified nonchalance, even though she's actually a graying brunette. She doesn't really care about aging; she only feels sorry for men because, as we all know, the weakening of sexual performance means a major attack on the male ego, as she revealed to "Zeit".

She didn't feel destabilized by this because she had a garden: "You learn something about growth and decay." The range in between can be heavy on content and very long-lasting. As is well known, her mother Renée Simonot was 109 years old.