Retro Heaven

Happy Birthday Françoise Dorléac

Remembering Françoise Dorléac….

fdToday (March 21st) is the birth date of the late French actress, Françoise Dorléac. Born in Paris in 1942 she is, rather sadly, best known for being the older sister of Catherine Deneuve who followed her older sister into the film business. Both the girls were inspired by their father, Maurice Dorléac, who was also an actor and Françoise made her stage debut at the age of ten.

Her film break came in 1957 with the short film Mesonges and her stunning looks won her a modelling contract with Christian Dior. Following the release of Mesonges she spent three years studying acting and in 1964 she hit cinematic big time with The Soft Skin directed by François Truffaut. By the mid sixties European cinema was awash with James Bond style spy spoofs and she won acclaim for her role in The Man from Rio, released in the same year.

By 1965, France had fallen firmly in love with her, she was vibrant, classy and beautiful. She appeared alongside Catherine and Gene Kelly in 1967 in Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, a French style tribute to the Hollywood musicals. Her biggest role would prove to be in the final film of the Len Deighton trilogy which starred Michael Caine as the British spy Harry Palmer in The Billion Dollar Brain.

Just as she appeared to be heading for international recognition she was killed when her sports car flipped and burst into flames in Nice whilst filming the Billion Dollar Brain. Despite the tragic setback, the producers kept her part as Anya and the film will, for many of her fans be a sad reminder of what she could have become. She was twenty five years old.

So Happy Birthday Françoise, a beautiful reminder of 1960s French cinema and female grace and elegance.

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