Anouk Aimee, 60s Icon Of French Elegance, Dies At 92

Anouk Aimee, 60s icon of French elegance, dies at 92

Paris, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 18th Jun, 2024) French star Anouk Aimee, who died on Tuesday aged 92, cast a spell over a generation of film-goers with her doomed romance in Claude Lelouch's box-office smash "A Man and A Woman".

Her role as a lovelorn widow in the 1966 film famous for its "chabadabada, chabadabada" theme tune won her an Oscar nomination, a Golden Globe for best actress and her entry into Hollywood.

Aimee's elegant sophistication had already made her a star of such European masterpieces as Federico Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" (1960) and "8 1/2" (1963), and she was unforgettable as the ageing showgirl in Jacques Demy's heartbreaking musical "Lola" (1961).

Fellini in particular revered her, saying her "face has the same intriguing sensuality as that of (Greta) Garbo, (Marlene) Dietrich or (Cindy) Crawford, these great mysterious queens, these priestesses of femininity.

"Anouk Aimee represents the kind of woman who worries you to death," he said.

That combination of "melancholy and passion" marked much of her remarkable career, with the American director Robert Altman bringing her out of retirement to rekindle her old spark with Marcello Mastroianni in the acclaimed "Pret a Porter" in 1994.

- Fleeing Nazis -

Born Francoise Dreyfus in Paris on April 27, 1932, Aimee was the scion of a theatrical family.

Her life was turned upside down when German troops marched into the city when she was eight. Her father was Jewish, putting the family in mortal danger, even though she was raised a Catholic.

"We moved all the time. We hid... But then the Germans turned up and took over the apartment downstairs," she recalled.

The family sent her to the countryside where they hoped she would be safer, changing her name so she would not have to wear a yellow star.

Her lifelong love of animals was born from the comfort they gave her during her time in hiding, she later said.

The war over, her career began at the age of 13 when she was picked from the street to play in a Marcel Carne film that was never finished for lack of money.

- The 'birth' of Anouk -

She finally made her screen debut the following year and adopted her character's name, Anouk, as her own.

It would become popular in France thanks to her.

It was French poet and screenwriter Jacques Prevert who convinced her to also change her surname to Aimee, meaning "loved".

Her career took off in 1949 with Andre Cayatte's "The Lovers of Verona". Her class and beauty brought her a string of roles including in "Montparnasse 19" by Jacques Becker before she began to work with Demy and Fellini.

The massive success of "A Man and a Woman" opened the door to Hollywood, where Aimee played opposite Omar Sharif in Sidney Lumet's "The Appointment" and George Cukor's "Justine" in 1969.

But she stopped working for seven years after she married British actor Albert Finney -- her fourth husband -- in 1970. They divorced eight years later.

"Cinema is like a meeting between lovers," Aimee told AFP. "I love that, it's like a gift and I adore the feeling of being loved."

- Lovers -

Romance and juggling lovers was something of an art with Aimee, and she carried it off with her trademark elegance.

She had a string of affairs, most notably with Omar Sharif, Warren Beatty and the much younger director Elie Chouraqui -- with whom she made a number of films -- as well as the writers Jean Genet and Jean Cocteau, who were both bisexual.

"She is never so happy as when she is miserable between love affairs," said the British actor and wit Dirk Bogarde, who knew her since she was 15.

Although by the 1980s she was appearing in fewer films, she won best actress at the Cannes Film Festival in 1980 for Marco Bellocchio's "A Leap in the Dark".

In 2002 she was awarded an honorary Cesar -- France's Oscars -- and Cannes paid tribute to her four years later.

She walked the festival's red carpet again in 2019 for the premiere of Lelouch's sequel to "A Man and a Woman" in which Aimee and her original co-star Jean-Louis Trintignant were reunited to reprise their characters, now in their 80s.

Aimee had a daughter with film director Nico Papatakis. She also married composer Pierre Barouh, who wrote the iconic theme for "A Man and a Woman".

She lived out the last few decades of her life in Paris's Montmartre district surrounded by cats and dogs.