Catherine Deneuve: The Face of France
French actress, Catherine Deneuve, was born Catherine Dorleac on October 22, 1943, in Paris, France.
Following her actor parents’ footsteps, Catherine’s first role came when she was 13 years old, appearing alongside her younger sister, Sylvie Dorleac, in Les Collegiennes (The Twilights Girls). The budding actress eventually took on her mother’s maiden name of Deneuve to differentiate herself from her siblings as her career progressed rapidly throughout the next few decades.
Deneuve also acted with her elder sister, Francoise Dorleac, in the 1967 film, Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (The Young Girls of Rochefort); tragically, Francoise passed in a car accident the same year the film was released.
A classic beauty, Deneuve’s breakthrough role was as Madame Emery’s teenaged daughter, Genevieve, in the 1964 musical, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg). The film, which she still often considers to be her favorite film to date, catapulted her rise to stardom. Merely a year later, Deneuve portrayed a beautiful yet tormented female killer in the psychological thriller film, Repulsion. Perhaps to further promote her more provocative films, Deneuve posed nude for Playboy in her early 20s between 1963 and 1965.
In 1967, Deneuve pushed cinematic and erotic boundaries with her enactment of housewife-turned-prostitute, Severine, in Belle de Jour (Beauty of the Day), cementing her wide-ranging acting abilities, as well as reinforcing the sensual yet emotionally detached maiden persona she would be known and highly sought out for.
After her seven-year marriage to photographer David Bailey, with whom she had no children, Deneuve’s consequent relationships with equally famous, well-accomplished men such as director Roger Vadim and actor Marcello Mastroianni were highly publicized. Deneuve’s children, Christian Vadim and Chiara Mastroianni, have followed her footsteps in their careers.
While Deneuve’s filmography remains largely French in nature, with over 100 film credits to her name across a variety of genres from comedies to dramas, she gained fame and popularity with American audiences with The April Fools and The Hunger. Her 1992 role in Indochine (Indochina), earned her an Academy Award nomination, a rare feat for a non-American to achieve. Her 2008 role in A Christmas Tale also earned her international recognition and a Satellite Award nomination for Best Actress. She has been nominated for a Cesar Award 12 times, winning the award three times for Best Actress and once for Best Supporting Actress.
As the star's name became well-known across the world for her cinematic ability as well as her iconic, ageless beauty, Deneuve has lent her likeness and personal brand to various fashion names such as L’Oreal Paris, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. In 1985 she was voted to represent the national symbol of liberty in France, that of the persona, Marianne.
Deneuve is multi-lingual and continues to act well into her 70s today, with two films in the works for 2015. In December 2013, the European Film Academy selected her as a recipient of a lifetime achievement award.
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