French Actress Jeanne Moreau Dies at 89

Actress Jeanne Moreau arrives at the European film awards ceremony in Berlin. File

French acting legend Jeanne Moreau dies at 89

The French president's office announced her death without providing a cause.

Jeanne Moreau, one of France's most iconic film stars has died at 89.

Commanding and captivating even in quietude, Moreau was unafraid to let the seams of life show in her onscreen roles.

Moreau's legacy as a femme fatale and French screen icon gained her an impressive number of lifetime achievement awards, one of which being an Academy Award which was presented to her in 1998 by her longtime friend, Sharon Stone.

Other major roles for Jeanne in her nearly 70-year career were 1958's "Ascenseur Pour L'échafaud" ('Elevator to the Gallows"), 1968's "La Mariée était en Noir" ('The Bride Wore Black"), 1961's "La Notte", 1979's "L'adolescente' and 1965's "Viva Maria!' for which she won a BAFTA for Best Foreign Actress.

Also a screenwriter and director, Moreau made over 130 films and continued to work into her 80s. The most celebrated among them allowed her to exist in every frame with a ferocious and unflinching authenticity still seldom afforded to women in film.

A maternity suffered more than desired, and their marriage had not lasted, as she had confided to Marie Claire: "I didn't want a child, I'm not maternal". She was a stalwart figure of French New Wave cinema and her supporters are understandably devastated. "When I see a film after I've made it, I see my own life before me", she said. Throughout her career, she worked with some of the most noted directors in the industry, including Orson Welles, Jean-Luc Godard and Wim Wenders. Plenty of men adored Moreau - her loves included Malle, Truffaut, Lee Marvin, and fashion designer Pierre Cardin - but if her heart was ever broken, as all hearts inevitably are, that suffering became part of the wholeness of her spirit.

Jeanne Moreau is survived by her son, the actor Jerome Richard. She also picked up an honorary Palme d'Or, Cannes' highest honor, back in 2003.

She began her film career with a role in Dernier Amour. Her philosophy, she once told me, was "Don't run away from fame, use it".

But here she was, "Madame Friedkin", as someone rather derisively referred to her, occupying a sprawling home just above UCLA in Bel-Air and, as I learned over numerous lunches at a small, entirely untrendy Japanese place (no longer there) on Sawtelle that was a favorite of hers, writing her autobiography. In 1997, she directed a third film, Solstice.

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