Movie Stars: Darrieux, Danielle–Iconic French and International Actress (Earrings of Madame de) Dies at 100

Actress Danielle Darrieux, who appeared in more than 100 films, was one of France’s greatest movie stars.

Her eight-decade career (which began in 1931) was among the longest in film history.

She turned 100 in May 2017, and died five months later (October 17), after complications from a fall.

She was born in Bordeaux on May 1, 2017 to a physician serving in the French Army, who died when she was 7. Raised in Paris, Darrieux studied the cello at the Conservatoire de Musique.

At 13, she won a part in the musical film, Le Bal.  Her beauty combined with her singing and dancing abilities led to other offers.  It was the film Mayerling (1936), which brought her to prominence.

In 1935, Darrieux married director-screenwriter Henri Decoin, who encouraged her to try Hollywood.  She signed with Universal to star in The Rage of Paris in 1938 opposite Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. but afterwards returned to Paris

Under the German occupation of France in WWII, Darrieux continued to perform, a decision that was severely criticized by her compatriots. Her brother had been threatened with deportation by the manager of the German-run production company, Continental.

After her divorce, she married Porfiro Rubirosa, a Dominican Republic diplomat, in 1942. His anti-Nazi politics led to a forced residence in Germany. In exchange for Rubirosa’s freedom, Darrieux agreed to make a promotional trip in Berlin. The couple lived in Switzerland until the end of the war, and divorced in 1947.

In 1948, she married scriptwriter Georges Mitsikidès, and lived together with him until his death in 1991.

Darrieux appeared in the MGM musical, Rich, Young and Pretty in 1951. Riding high on his success with All About Eve, Joseph L. Mankiewicz convinced her to star in his espionage thriller, 5 Fingers, opposite James Mason.

Upon returning to France, she appeared in Max Ophules’ 1953 masterpiece, The Earrings of Madame de, a lush romantic melodrama, co-starring Charles Boyer and Vittorio De Sica, followed by The Red and The Black, opposite Gerard Phillipe.

In 1955, she starred in the scandalous adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover whose theme of uninhibited sexuality led to banning in the U.S.

She played a supporting role in her last American film, the historical epic, Alexander the Great (1956), starring Richard Burton.

In 1961, Darrieux went to England to make The Greengage Summer with Kenneth Moore.

In 1963, she starred in the romantic comedy La Robe Mauve de Valentine at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris, adapted from Francoise Sagan’s novel.

In Jacques Demy’s 1966 musical The Young Girls of Rochefort, she played a supporting role to Catherine Deneuve, singing her own songs.

In 1970, Darrieux replaced Katharine Hepburn in the Broadway musical Coco, based on the life of Coco Chanel, but the play closed soon after.

She worked again with Demy on his film Une chambre en ville (1982), an opera-like musical melodrama reminiscent of the director’s 1964 masterpiece, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

In 1985, for her service to the film industry, she was given Honorary Cesar Award.

She continued to work, with her career spanning eight decades.

Most recently, she provided the voice of the protagonist’s grandmother in the 2007 animated feature, Persepolis, about the impact of the Islamic revolution on Iranian girl.