Annie Girardot

Annie Girardot
Born (1931-10-25)25 October 1931
Paris, France
Died 28 February 2011(2011-02-28) (aged 79)
Paris, France
Occupation Actress
Years active 1954–2008
Spouse(s) Renato Salvatori (1962–1988; his death)

Annie Girardot (25 October 1931 – 28 February 2011) was a three-time César Award winning French actress.[1][2] She often played strong-willed, independent, hard-working, and often lonely women, imbuing her characters with an earthiness and reality that endeared her to women undergoing similar daily struggles.[3]


Over the course of a five-decade career, she starred in nearly 150 films. She is a three-time César Award winner (1977, 1996, 2002), a two-time Molière Award winner (2002), a David di Donatello Award winner (1977), a BAFTA nominee (1962), and a recipient of several international prizes including the Volpi Cup (Best actress) at the 1965 Venice Film Festival for Three Rooms in Manhattan.

After graduating from the prestigious Conservatoire de la rue Blanche in 1954 with two First Prizes in Modern and Classical Comedy, she joined the Comédie Française, where she was a resident actor from 1954-57.

In 1955, she began her film career, making her film debut in Treize à table, but it was with theatre that she started to attract the attention of critics. Her performance in Jean Cocteau's play La Machine à écrire in 1956 was admired by the author who called her "The finest dramatic temperament of the Postwar period".[4] In 1958, Luchino Visconti directed her opposite Jean Marais in a French stage adaptation of William Gibson's Two for the Seesaw.[5]

In 1956, she was awarded the Prix Suzanne Bianchetti as best up-and-coming young actress, but only with Luchino Visconti's epic Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers, 1960), she was able to draw the public's attention to her. In 1962, she married Italian actor Renato Salvatori. Travelling back and forth between two film careers in France and Italy, Girardot also worked with renown Italian directors, including Marco Ferreri in the scandalous The Ape Woman (1964), which became one of the main attractions at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival. In 1968, she also starred in the cult anti-consumerism French film Erotissimo (Gérard Pirès, 1968).[6]

Famously ignored by French New Wave directors (with the exception of Claude Lelouch), Girardot found her glory in popular cinema alongside more established and traditional directors such as Jean Delannoy, Marcel Carné, Michel Boisrond, André Cayatte, Gilles Grangier, or André Hunebelle[7]

By the end of the 1960s, she had become a movie star and a box-office magnet in France with such films as Vice and Virtue (1963); Live for Life (1967); Love Is a Funny Thing (1969); and Mourir d'aimer ("To die of love", 1971), the fact-based tale of Gabrielle Russier (1937-1969), a middle-aged classics teacher whose affair with a much younger student made her the object of bourgeoisie ridicule. The film was nominated for a Golden Globe, and remains Girardot's biggest box office hit in France.

Throughout the 1970s, Girardot came back and forth between drama and comedy, proving herself an adept comedian in such successful comedies as Claude Zidi's La Zizanie, Michel Audiard's She Does Not Drink, Smoke or Flirt But... She Talks or Philippe de Broca's Dear Detective. In 1974, she starred in the hit teen movie, La Gifle, as Isabelle Adjani's mother. In 1972, she said in an interview to The New York Times, citing as Exhibit A her role as a sideshow freak in The Ape Woman, “I think I’ve proven that I’m opposed to typecasting. I believe that the acting of any role — from duchess to kitchen slavey — must be a form of transformation".[1] In 1977, she won her first César Award for Best Actress portraying the title character in the drama Docteur Françoise Gailland. Throughout the 1970s, she was the highest paid actress in France, and was nicknamed "La Girardot" by the press due to the fact that her name alone was enough to guarantee the success of a film.[8] Indeed, between the release of Live for Life in 1967 and Jupiter's Thigh in 1980, 24 of her films have attracted more than one million admissions in France.[9]

Girardot's popularity became one of the symbols of the 1970s feminist movement in France, as the audience embraced the "everywoman" quality she brought to the strong-minded female characters she regularly played in both dramas and comedies. In her 1989 autobiography, "Vivre d'aimer", she wrote of her popularity that "People didn't come to watch a beautiful, vamp-like creature, but simply a woman. [...] I played a judge, a lawyer, a taxi driver, a cop, a surgeon. I was never a glamorous star.".[10]

at Cannes festival in 2000

The 1980s were less kind, as her career floundered and parts dwindled. In 1983, she lost a fortune when "Revue Et Corrigée", the musical show she put on and starred in at the Casino de Paris, flopped.[11] She subsequently battled depression, but bounced back with several television series in France and Italy. However, Girardot had a major comeback on the big screen playing a peasant wife in Claude Lelouch's Les Misérables. The role won her a second César Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1996. Upon accepting the award, a joyous and tearful Girardot expressed her happiness that she had not been forgotten by the film industry in a speech that remained very famous.[12] In 1992, she was the Head of the Jury at the 42nd Berlin International Film Festival.[13]

In 2002, she was awarded the César Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Piano Teacher. She collaborated with director Michael Haneke again, in Caché (2005).

On stage she had a triumph in 1974 with Madame Marguerite, which became her signature role that she reprised on numerous occasions until 2002. That year she was awarded the Molière Award for this role, along with a Honorary Molière Award for her entire stage career.

Girardot is the highest ranked woman in the list of French stars who have appeared in the most movies that have attracted more than one million admissions in France since 1945, with 44 films.[9]

Private life

She married Italian actor Renato Salvatori in 1962. They had a daughter, Giulia, and later separated but never divorced.

Later life and death

Official promotional poster of the 37th annual César Awards ceremony, featuring a photo of Annie Girardot

After going public in the 21 September 2006 issue of Paris Match with the news that she was suffering from Alzheimer's disease, she became a symbol of the illness in France.

On 28 February 2011, Girardot died in a hospital in Paris, aged 79. She was interred at Père-Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris.[14]

A year after her death, the 37th annual César Awards 2012 selected a picture of Annie Girardot from the 1962 film Rocco and His Brothers as the official promotional poster of the ceremony, during which she was paid tribute with a retrospective montage of her most memorable roles on film.[15]

In September 2012, a street located in the 13th arrondissement of Paris was named after her.

In October 2012, France's Postal service has issued a collection of stamps dedicated to six major figures of French Post-War cinema, including Annie Girardot.[16]

Sancar Seckiner's book South (Güney), published July 2013, consists of 12 article and essays. One of them, "Girardot's Eyes", highlights broader comment of Annie Girardot' s performance in the cinema of art. ISBN 978-605-4579-45-7.

Selected filmography

Year Title Role Director
1957 Le rouge est mis Hélène Gilles Grangier
1957 Maigret Sets a Trap Yvonne Maurin Jean Delannoy
1960 Rocco and His Brothers Nadia Luchino Visconti
1961 Le Crime ne paie pas (episode L'Affaire Fenayrou) Gabrielle Fenayrou Gérard Oury
Prey for the Shadows Anna Kraemmer Alexandre Astruc
1962 Le Bateau d'Émile Fernande Malanpin Denys de La Patellière
Smog Gabriella Franco Rossi
Vice and Virtue Juliette Morand ("Vice") Roger Vadim
1963 The Organizer Niobe Mario Monicelli
Outlaws of Love Margherita Paolo and Vittorio Taviani and Valentino Orsini
1964 The Ape Woman Maria Marco Ferreri
Male Companion Clara Philippe de Broca
Beautiful families (episode Il principe azzurro) Maria Ugo Gregoretti
1965 Una voglia da morire Eleonora Duccio Tessari
The Dirty Game Suzette/Monique Christian-Jaque
Three Rooms in Manhattan Kay Larsi Marcel Carné
Déclic et des claques Sandra Philippe Clair
1966 The Witches (episode La strega bruciata viva) Valeria Luchino Visconti
1967 Live for Life Catherine Colomb Claude Lelouch
The Journalist as herself Sergei Gerasimov
1968 Les Gauloises bleues the mother Michel Cournot
It Rains in My Village Reza Aleksandar Petrović
Metti una sera a cena Giovanna Giuseppe Patroni Griffi
1969 Erotissimo Annie Gérard Pirès
Life Love Death cameo appearance Claude Lelouch
The Seed of Man the unknown woman Marco Ferreri
Love Is a Funny Thing Françoise Claude Lelouch
Dillinger Is Dead the daughter Marco Ferreri
1970 Story of a Woman Liliana Leonardo Bercovici
Elle boit pas, elle fume pas, elle drague pas, mais... elle cause ! Germaine Michel Audiard
Les Novices Mona Lisa Guy Casaril
1971 Mourir d'aimer Danièle Guénot André Cayatte
La Mandarine Séverine Édouard Molinaro
1972 The Old Maid Muriel Bouchon Jean-Pierre Blanc
Hearth Fires Marie Louise Boursault Serge Korber
Elle cause plus... elle flingue Rosemonde du Bois de la Faisanderie Michel Audiard
1973 Shock Treatment Hélène Masson Alain Jessua
Il n'y a pas de fumée sans feu Sylvie Peyrac André Cayatte
1974 Juliette et Juliette Juliette Vidal Remo Forlani
La Gifle Hélène Douélan Claude Pinoteau
1975 Il faut vivre dangereusement Léone Claude Makovski
Il pleut sur Santiago Maria Olivares Helvio Soto
1976 Docteur Françoise Gailland Françoise Gailland Jean-Louis Bertucelli
Cours après moi que je t'attrape Jacqueline Robert Pouret
1977 À chacun son enfer Madeleine Girard André Cayatte
Le Dernier Baiser Annie Dolorès Grassian
Le Point de mire Danièle Gaur Jean-Claude Tramont
1978 Tendre Poulet Lise Tanquerelle Philippe de Broca
La Zizanie Bernadette Daubray-Lacaze Claude Zidi
Vas-y maman Annie Larcher Nicole de Buron
L'Amour en question Suzanne Corbier André Cayatte
La Clé sur la porte Marie Arnault Yves Boisset
1979 Traffic Jam Irène Luigi Comencini
Cause toujours... tu m'intéresses! Christine Clément Édouard Molinaro
1980 Jupiter's Thigh Lise Tanquerelle Philippe de Broca
1981 Une robe noire pour un tueur Florence Nat José Giovanni
All Night Long French teacher Jean-Claude Tramont
1984 Liste noire Jeanne Dufour Alain Bonnot
Souvenirs, souvenirs Emma Boccara Ariel Zeitoun
1985 Partir, revenir Hélène Rivière Claude Lelouch
Mussolini and I (TV film) Rachele Mussolini Alberto Negrin
Adieu Blaireau Colette Bob Decout
1989 Comédie d'amour Le Fléau Jean-Pierre Rawson
1990 Il y a des jours... et des lunes the lone woman Claude Lelouch
Merci la vie Évangeline Pelleveau Bertrand Blier
1994 Les Braqueuses Cécile's mother Jean-Paul Salomé
1995 Les Misérables Madame Thénardier (1942) Claude Lelouch
1997 Shanghai 1937 (TV film) Mme. Tissaud Peter Patzak
2001 The Piano Teacher Mother Michael Haneke
2005 Hidden Mother of Georges Michael Haneke
2006 A City Is Beautiful at Night The Grandmother Richard Bohringer


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