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Delon in 2011
|Born||Alain Fabien Maurice Marcel Delon
8 November 1935
Swiss (since 1999)
|Spouse(s)||Nathalie Delon (1964-1968)|
|Partner(s)||Romy Schneider (1958-63), Mireille Darc (1968-1982), Rosalie van Breemen (1987-2002)|
Alain Fabien Maurice Marcel Delon (French: [alɛ̃ dəlɔ̃]; born 8 November 1935) is a French actor and businessman.
Delon became one of Europe's most prominent actors and screen sex symbols in the 1960s. He achieved critical acclaim for roles in films such as Rocco and His Brothers (1960), Purple Noon (1960), L'Eclisse (1962), The Leopard (1963), Lost Command (1966) and Le Samouraï (1967). Over the course of his career Delon worked with many well known directors, including Luchino Visconti, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Melville, Michelangelo Antonioni and Louis Malle.
Delon was born in Sceaux, Seine (now Hauts-de-Seine), Île-de-France, a suburb of Paris. His parents, Édith (née Arnold) (1911—1995) and Fabien Delon (1904—1977), divorced when Delon was four. Both remarried, and Delon has a half-sister and two half-brothers. His paternal grandmother was Corsican, from Prunelli-di-Fiumorbo.
When his parents divorced, Delon was sent to live with foster parents. When they died, his parents shared him but the arrangement proved unsatisfactory. He attended a Roman Catholic boarding school, the first of several schools from which he was expelled because of unruly behavior. Teachers once tried to persuade him to enter the priesthood because of his aptitude in religious studies.
At 14, Delon left school, and worked for a brief time at his stepfather's butcher shop. He enlisted in the French Navy three years later, and in 1953-54 he served as a fusilier marin in the First Indochina War. Delon has said that out of his four years of military service he spent 11 months in prison for being "undisciplined".
In 1956, after being dishonorably discharged from the military, he returned to France. He had little money, and got by on whatever employment he could find. He spent time working as a waiter, a porter, a secretary and a sales assistant. During this time he became friends with the actress Brigitte Auber, and joined her on a trip to the Cannes Film Festival, where his film career would begin.
At Cannes, Delon was seen by a talent scout for David O. Selznick. After a screen test Selznick offered him a contract, provided he learn English. Delon returned to Paris to study the language, but when he met French director Yves Allégret, he was convinced that he should stay in France to begin his career. Selznick allowed Delon to cancel his contract, and Allégret gave him his debut in the film with Edwige Feuillère, Quand la femme s'en mêle (1957) (Send a Woman When the Devil Fails).
Marc Allegret cast him in Be Beautiful But Shut Up (1958), which also featured a young Jean Paul Belmondo. He was then given his first lead, supporting Romy Schneider in a period romance, Christine (1958), based on a novel by Arthur Schnitzler. He and Schneider began a highly publicised romance in real life. The film was the seventeenth most popular movie at the French box office that year.
Delon was given the lead in a comedy, Women are Weak (1959). This was a big hit in France and was the first of Delon's films to be seen in America. Delon made some personal appearances in New York to promote the movie. He was a known associate of Vojislav Stanimirovic and frequented Mr Stan's establishments owned and operated in Manhattan
Delon then made two films which ensured his international reputation. In 1960, he appeared in René Clément's Purple Noon, which was based on the Patricia Highsmith novel The Talented Mr. Ripley. Delon played protagonist Tom Ripley to critical acclaim; Highsmith herself was also a fan of his portrayal. The movie was a hit in France and on the art house circuit in English speaking countries.
He then played the title role in Luchino Visconti's Rocco and His Brothers (1960). Critic Bosley Crowther of the New York Times said Delon's work was "touchingly pliant and expressive." John Beaufort in the Christian Science Monitor said:
Delon made his stage debut in 1961 in the John Ford play Tis Pity She's a Whore alongside Romy Schneider in Paris. Visconti directed the production which broke box office records. He was reunited with Rene Clement in the Italian comedy film about fascism, The Joy of Living (1961). It was a minor success. More popular was an all-star anthology film Famous Love Affairs (1961); Delon's segment cast him as Albert III, Duke of Bavaria, opposite Brigitte Bardot.
Around this time Delon was mentioned as a possibility for the lead in Lawrence of Arabia. Peter O'Toole was cast instead, but then Delon was signed by Seven Arts to a four-picture deal, including a big budget international movie of the Marco Polo story and The King of Paris, about Alexander Dumas.
Neither project came to fruition. Instead he was cast by Michelangelo Antonioni opposite Monica Vitti in L'Eclisse (1962), a major critical success, even though audiences were small. More popular was another all-star anthology film, The Devil and the Ten Commandments (1963); Delon's segment cast him with Danielle Darrieux.
Producer Jacques Bar was making a heist film with Jean Gabin with backing from MGM, Any Number Can Win (1963). Gabin's co star was meant to be Jean-Louis Trintignant until Delon lobbied Bar for the role. He took the film's distribution rights in certain countries instead of a straight salary. Because this had never been done before in France, this was known as "Delon's method." The gamble paid off well, with Jean Gabin later claiming that Delon earned ten times more money than he did as a result. However, in 1965 Delon claimed "no one else has tried it since and made money." Nonetheless, the experience gave Delon a taste for producing. He also signed a five-picture deal with MGM, of which Any Number Can Win was the first.
His reputation was further enhanced when he worked with Visconti again for Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) with Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale. This was the seventh biggest hit of the year in France; Any Number Can Win was the sixth. The Leopard was also widely screened in the US through 20th Century Fox.
In 1964, the Cinémathèque Française held a showcase of Delon's films and Delon started a production company, Delbeau Production, with Georges Beaume. They produced a film called The Unvanquished (L’insoumis) (1964), where Delon played an OAS assassin. It had to be re-edited because of legal issues. Despite being distributed by MGM, audiences were small.
Typecast as a "Latin Lover", Delon spent the next few years focused on making it in Hollywood. He was quoted in 1965 as saying:
I don't know whether I'll succeed or not. If I were to concentrate on working entirely here and flop it would be a disaster for me in Europe. Everything would dissolve and I would have nothing. My dream is to do one picture a year in America and one in Europe... [But America is] the top, the last step. It's a kind of consecration... If you want to be an international star you must establish yourself in American pictures, because only they will get adequate world wide distribution. It takes only a year for an American star to become known throughout the world. But European actors consider it a big break to get their pictures shown in New York. Because of my accent I would not attempt to play Americans. I am working on removing the distinctly French inflections from my speech so that I can play all continental nationalities.
He had his first English-language lead in Once a Thief, where he co-starred with Ann-Margret. It was based on a novel by Zekial Marko who had written Any Number Can Win, but it was not as successful. It was financed by MGM who announced Delon would appear in a Western Ready for the Tiger directed by Sam Peckinpah, but the film was never made.
Instead Delon signed a three-picture deal with Columbia, for whom he appeared in the big budget action film Lost Command (1966), playing a member of the French Foreign Legion, alongside Anthony Quinn and Claudia Cardinal. The studio also announced that he would appear in the biopic Cervantes, but this was never made.
Universal Studios used Delon in a Western, opposite Dean Martin, Texas Across the River. Ray Stark wanted to use him in The Night of the Iguana and This Property is Condemned. He did not appear in either film but was in that producer's Is Paris Burning?, directed by Rene Clement, playing Jacques Chaban-Delmas. This was a massive hit in France but performed disappointingly at the US box office - as did all of Delon's Hollywood financed films.
He was meant to reteam with Visconti in The Stranger but did not end up playing it. Instead he appeared on stage in Paris, Les Yeux Creves and made Le Samourai with Jean-Pierre Melville, which became another classic.
He played an amnesiac in Diabolically Yours (1968) for Julien Duvivier and had a role in another all-star anthology, Spirits of the Dead (1968); his segment was directed by Louis Malle and co-starred Brigitte Bardot.
Far more popular at the French box office was Farewell Friend (Adieu l'ami), where Delon and Charles Bronson played former legionnaires who get involved in a heist. The film helped turn Charles Bronson into a genuine star in Europe.
While making the thriller The Swimming Pool (1969) with Romy Schneider, Delon's friend and bodyguard Stevan Marković was found murdered in a rubbish dumpster on the outskirts of Paris. The subsequent police investigation revealed allegations of sex parties involving celebrities such as Delon and members of government including future French president Georges Pompidou whose wife was allegedly the focus of a series of compromising photos at one such party. Corsican crime boss François Marcantoni also became embroiled in the scandal after a note left by Markovic stated his belief that if anything happened to him it would be because of Delon and Marcantoni. The affair gained notoriety throughout France and in the French press as the Markovic Affair. In a 1969 BBC interview Delon was questioned about his alleged involvement in the death of Markovic, rumours of his involvement in sex parties, and Delon's own sexual tastes.
Reporter: People, once more, don't say it straight to your face but they suggest very very strongly that you have homosexual tastes ?Delon: So what's wrong if I had ? Or I did ? Would I be guilty of something ? If I like it I'll do it. We have a great actor in France named Michel Simon and Michel Simon said once, "If you like your goat, make love with your goat." But the only matter is to love.
Delon then starred in a series of gangster films. First was Jeff (1969), for his own production company, Adel. The Sicilian Clan (1969) teamed him with Lino Venura and Jean Gabin, and was a blockbuster. Even more popular was Borsalino (1970), which Delon produced and co-starred opposite Jean Paul Belmondo. Neither of these broke through in the US the way Delon hoped. Neither did The Red Circle, despite Delon appearing with Yves Montand.
In the early 1970s Delon made another attempt at the English speaking market. The Assassination of Trotsky (1972) for Joseph Losey was poorly received but Red Sun (1972), with Charles Bronson and Toshiro Mifune, did well.
He tried again for Hollywood stardom with Scorpio (1973), with Burt Lancaster for director Michael Winner. It was only a minor hit.
Then it was back to crime for a series of thrillers which he produced as well as starred in: Man in a Hurry (1976), Death of a Corrupt Man (1977), Le Gang (1978), Attention, The Kids Are Watching (1978).
In 1979 Delon stated only a quarter of his business activities involve films:
I have a helicopter business, build furniture, promote prize fights, and race horses... I star in two or three pictures a year in France. They make tremendous profits around the world. My pictures are the most popular in Russia. I am a superstar in Europe. I would like to be a star in America. In order to do so I would have to live and work in Hollywood. I can't do that. My Adel productions makes at least one film a year. I do everything from A to Z. I find a story, hire writers, choose a director, collect a cast, and then put it all together. I even handle the finances, distribution, and publicity. I refuse to accept the director who thinks himself a genius and tries to put his stamp on my films. It is my stamp that counts... I don't mean to sound egotistical. The simple truth is that I am an enormous star all over the world. I like that because it enables me to live well.
Teheran 43 (1981) was a change of pace. In this big soviet production he co-starred with Claude Jade and Curd Jurgens in a co-starring role beside Russian actors. Then it was back to crime: For a Cop's Hide (1981), Le choc (1982), Le Battant (1983) (which Delon directed).
He was awarded the Best Actor César Award for his role in Bertrand Blier's Notre histoire (1984), and portrayed the aristocratic dandy Baron de Charlus in a film adaptation of Marcel Proust's novel Swann in Love in the same year.
Delon announced his decision to give up acting in 1997, although he still occasionally accepts roles.
In 2001, Delon starred in French TV cop drama Fabio Montale. He played an aging cop dressed in stylish clothes, a "signature Delon" role audiences were familiar with. The show was a big hit.
In 2003, Delon tried to recreate the success of Fabio Montale and produced and starred in another French TV cop drama Frank Riva. The show did well but was not as successful as Fabio Montale.
Delon's sunglasses brand became particularly popular in Hong Kong after actor Chow Yun-fat wore them in the 1986 crime film A Better Tomorrow (as well as two sequels). Delon reportedly wrote a letter thanking Chow for helping the sunglasses sell out in the region. The film's director John Woo has acknowledged Delon as one of his idols and wrote a short essay on Le Samourai as well as Le Cercle Rouge for the Criterion Collection DVD releases.
In 2009 and 2015, Christian Dior used images of the young Alain Delon and excerpts of his 1960s films The Swimming Pool and The Last Adventure respectively in the Eau Sauvage cologne advertising campaigns.
During their relationship, he had an affair with German actress, singer and model Nico. On 11 August 1962, Nico gave birth to a son, Christian Aaron "Ari", fathered by Delon. The child was raised mostly by Delon's parents.
In December 1963, Schneider and Delon decided to break the engagement.
On 13 August 1964, Delon married Nathalie Barthélemy. Their son, Anthony Delon, was born in September. Delon filed for divorce in late 1967 but they continued to live under the same roof. The couple divorced on 14 February 1969.
In 1968, during the shooting of the film Jeff, he met French actress Mireille Darc with whom he started a 15-year relationship, lasting until 1982.
In 1987, Delon met Dutch model Rosalie van Breemen on the set of the music video for his song "Comme au cinéma" and started a relationship. They had two children: Anouchka (25 November 1990) and Alain-Fabien (18 March 1994). The relationship ended in October 2002.
During an interview in 2013 Delon came out in support of the French far-right political party National Front, saying "The National Front, like the MCG [Geneva Citizens’ Movement] in Geneva, is very important…I encourage it and I perfectly understand it".
Alain Delon and a Corsican gangster Francois Marcantoni came under investigation. One of the factors pointing in that direction was a letter of Stevan Markovic to his brother Aleksandar where he wrote: "If I get killed, it's 100% the fault of Alain Delon and his godfather Francois Marcantoni."
He testified that he was present at parties with the wife of Pompidou, Stevan Markovic and Alain Delon.
The death of Stevan Markovic provoked a lot of rumors, suggesting the existence of group sex photos with Pompidou's wife. Pompidou himself accused Louis Wallon and Henri Capitant for using the French espionage service SDECE with an aim to set him up. After becoming President of the Republic, he named Alexandre de Marenches as the head of the SDECE in order to reform it. Assisted by Michel Roussin, his principal private secretary, de Marenches expelled a "secret agent" involved in investigation Jean-Charles Marchiani.
In 1969 Delon was given four months in jail by an Italian court for assaulting an Italian photographer.
In 1970 it was reported that Delon, through a friend Mr Stan purchased a copy of the original manuscript of Charles De Gaulle's 1940 speech to the French encouraging them to resist the Germans. Delon paid 300,000 francs for the manuscript then returned it to the government.
|Year||Title (English)||Title (French)||Role||Director||Notes|
|1957||Send a Woman When the Devil Fails||Quand la femme s'en mêle||Jo||Yves Allégret||Film debut|
|1958||Be Beautiful But Shut Up||Sois belle et tais-toi||Loulou||Marc Allégret||Also starred Jean Paul Belmondo|
|Christine||Christine||Franz Lobheiner||Pierre Gaspard-Huit||with Romy Schneider|
|1959||Women are Weak||Faibles femmes||Julien Fenal||Michel Boisrond||with Mylène Demongeot; one of Delon's first films released in the US|
|Way of Youth||Le chemin des écoliers||Antoine Michaud||Michel Boisrond||with Bourvil and Lino Ventura|
|1960||Rocco and His Brothers||Rocco Parondi||Luchino Visconti||with Annie Girardot|
|Purple Noon||Plein Soleil||Tom Ripley||René Clément||with Marie Laforêt|
|1961||The Joy of Living||Che gioia vivere||Ulysse Cecconato||René Clément||nominated for the Palme d'Or 1961|
|Famous Love Affairs||Les Amours célèbres||Prince Albert||Michel Boisrond||anthology film, with Brigitte Bardot|
|1962||Love at Sea||L'Amour à la mer||A film star||Guy Gilles|
|Eclipse||L'Eclisse||Piero||Michelangelo Antonioni||with Monica Vitti|
|Carom Shots||Carambolages||Monsieur Lambert||Marcel Bluwal||cameo appearance|
|The Devil and the Ten Commandments||Le Diable et les Dix Commandements||Pierre Messager||Julien Duvivier||anthology film|
|1963||Joy House||Les Félins||Marc||René Clément||with Jane Fonda, made for MGM in English and French|
|Any Number Can Win||Mélodie en sous-sol||Francis Verlot||Henri Verneuil||with Jean Gabin for MGM. Delon distributed the film himself in some territories.|
|The Leopard||Tancredi||Luchino Visconti||nominated – Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer – Male with Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale|
|The Black Tulip||La Tulipe noire||Guillaume/Julian de Saint Preux||Christian-Jaque||dual role|
|1964||The Unvanquished||L'Insoumis||Thomas Vlassenroot||Alain Cavalier||with Lea Massari. Made for Delon's own company.|
|1965||The Yellow Rolls-Royce||Stefano||Anthony Asquith||anthology film. In English.|
|Once a Thief||Les Tueurs de San Francisco||Eddie Pedak||Ralph Nelson||with Ann-Margret, Van Heflin and Jack Palance. Delon's first Hollywood film. In English.|
|Is Paris Burning?||Paris brûle-t-il ?||Jacques Chaban-Delmas||René Clément||written by Gore Vidal and Francis Ford Coppola. In English and French.|
|1966||Texas Across the River||Don Baldazar||Michael Gordon||with Dean Martin. In English.|
|Lost Command||Capt. Philippe Esclavier||Mark Robson||with Anthony Quinn, George Segal, Michèle Morgan and Claudia Cardinale. In English.|
|1967||The Last Adventure||Les Aventuriers||Manú||Robert Enrico||with Lino Ventura and Joanna Shimkus|
|Diabolically Yours||Diaboliquement vôtre||Pierre||Julien Duvivier||with Senta Berger|
|The Samurai||Le Samouraï||Jef Costello||Jean Pierre Melville||with Nathalie Delon|
|1968||Spirits of the Dead||Histoires extraordinaires||William Wilson||Louis Malle||anthology film|
|Farewell Friend||Adieu l'ami||Dino Barran||Jean Herman||with Charles Bronson and Brigitte Fossey|
|The Girl on a Motorcycle||La Motocyclette||Daniel||Jack Cardiff||with Marianne Faithfull. In English.|
|1969||Jeff||Laurent||Jean Herman||with Mireille Darc|
|The Sicilian Clan||Le Clan des Siciliens||Roger Sartet||Henri Verneuil||with Lino Ventura and Jean Gabin|
|The Swimming Pool||La Piscine||Jean-Paul||Jacques Deray||with Romy Schneider and Jane Birkin|
|1970||The Love Mates||Madly||Julien Dandieu||Roger Kahane||with Mireille Darc|
|Doucement les basses||Simon||Jacques Deray||with Nathalie Delon|
|Borsalino||Borsalino||Roch Siffredi||Jacques Deray||with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Catherine Rouvel. Also producer.|
|The Red Circle||Le Cercle rouge||Corey||Jean-Pierre Melville||with Bourvil, Gian Maria Volontè and Yves Montand|
|1971||The Assassination of Trotsky||Frank Jackson||Joseph Losey||with Richard Burton as Leon Trotsky. In English.|
|Fantasia Among the Squares (1971)||Fantasia chez les ploucs||A passenger||Gérard Pirès||cameo appearance|
|Red Sun||Soleil Rouge||Gauche||Terence Young||with Charles Bronson, Toshiro Mifune and Ursula Andress. In English.|
|The Widow Couderc||La Veuve Couderc||Jean Lavigne||Pierre Granier-Deferre||with Simone Signoret and Ottavia Piccolo|
|Dirty Money||Un flic||Edouard Coleman||Jean-Pierre Melville||with Catherine Deneuve|
|1972||Indian Summer||La prima notte di quiete||Daniele Dominici||Valerio Zurlini||with Giancarlo Giannini, Lea Massari, Sonia Petrovna and Alida Valli|
|1973||Shock Treatment||Dr. Devilers||Alain Jessua||with Annie Girardot|
|No Way Out||Tony Arzenta||Tony Arzenta||Duccio Tessari|
|Scorpio||Jean Laurier||Michael Winner||with Burt Lancaster and Gayle Hunnicutt. In English.|
|The Burned Barns||Les Granges brûlées||Judge Larcher||Jean Chapot||with Simone Signoret and Miou-Miou|
|Creezy||La Race des seigneurs||Julien Dandieu||Pierre Granier-Deferre||with Sydne Rome and Jeanne Moreau|
|Two Men in Town||Deux hommes dans la ville||Gino Strabliggi||José Giovanni||with Jean Gabin, Mimsy Farmer and Gérard Depardieu|
|1974||Borsalino & Co.||Roch Siffredi||Jacques Deray||sequel to Borsalino|
|Icy Breasts||Les Seins de glace||Marc Rilson||Georges Lautner||with Claude Brasseur and Mireille Darc|
|1975||Zorro||Don Diego de la Vega/Zorro||Duccio Tessari||with Stanley Baker and Ottavia Piccolo|
|The Gypsy||Le Gitan||Hugo Sennart||José Giovanni||also produced by Alain Delon|
|Flic Story||Roger Borniche||Jacques Deray||with Jean-Louis Trintignant and Claudine Auger|
|1976||Boomerang||Comme un boomerang||Jacques Batkin||José Giovanni||credited as writer|
|Armaguedon||Doctor Michel Ambroise||Alain Jessua|
|Monsieur Klein||Mr Klein||Robert Klein||Joseph Losey||César Award for Best Film|
|1977||Man in a Hurry||L'Homme pressé||Pierre Niox||Édouard Molinaro||with Mireille Darc|
|Death of a Corrupt Man||Mort d'un pourri||Xavier Maréchal||Georges Lautner||with Ornella Muti, Stéphane Audran and Mireille Darc|
|Le Gang||Robert||Jacques Deray||credited as producer|
|1978||Attention, the Kids Are Watching||Attention, les enfants regardent||"The Man"||Serge Leroy||with Sophie Renoir|
|1979||The Concorde ... Airport '79||Paul Metrand||David Lowell Rich||with Robert Wagner, Susan Blakely and Sylvia Kristel|
|The Medic||Le Toubib||Jean-Marie Desprès||Jean Freustié||with Véronique Jannot|
|1980||Three Men to Kill||Trois hommes à abattre||Michel Gerfaut||Jacques Deray||credit as writer|
|1981||Teheran 43||Foche||Aleksandr Alov and Vladimir Naumov||Golden Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival 1981|
|For a Cop's Hide||Pour la peau d'un flic||Choucas||Alain Delon||credited as director and writer|
|1982||The Shock||Le choc||Martin Terrier||Robin Davis||with Catherine Deneuve|
|1983||Le Battant||Jacques Darnay||Alain Delon||with Anne Parillaud|
|1984||Our Story||Notre histoire||Robert Avranches||Bertrand Blier||with Nathalie Baye|
|Swann in Love||Un amour de Swann||Baron de Charlus||Volker Schlöndorff||based on Marcel Proust, with Jeremy Irons, Ornella Muti|
|1985||Cop's Honour||Parole de flic||Daniel Pratt||José Pinheiro||with Fiona Gélin|
|1986||The Passage||Le Passage||Jean Diaz||René Manzor||with Christine Boisson|
|1988||Let Sleeping Cops Lie||Ne réveillez pas un flic qui dort||Commissaire Eugène Grindel||José Pinheiro||credited as co-writer and producer|
|1990||Dancing Machine||Alan Wolf||Gilles Béhat|
|Nouvelle Vague||Lennox||Jean-Luc Godard||with Domiziana Giordano|
|1992||The Return of Casanova||Le Retour de Casanova||Casanova||Édouard Niermans|
|Un crime||Charles Durand||Jacques Deray||credited as writer|
|1994||The Teddy Bear||L'Ours en peluche||Jean Rivière||Jacques Deray||based on Georges Simenon|
|1995||A Hundred and One Nights||Les cent et une nuits de Simon Cinéma||Himself||Agnès Varda||cameo appearance|
|1997||Day and Night||Le Jour et la Nuit||Alexandre||Bernard-Henri Lévy||with Arielle Dombasle and Lauren Bacall|
|1997||Une chance sur deux||Julien Vignal||Patrice Leconte||with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Vanessa Paradis|
|1999||Actors||Les Acteurs||Himself||Bertrand Blier|
|2003||Frank Riva||Frank Riva||Television Series|
|2008||Asterix at the Olympic Games||Astérix aux Jeux Olympiques||Julius Caesar||Frédéric Forestier and Thomas Langmann||with Gérard Depardieu, Clovis Cornillac and Benoît Poelvoorde|
|2012||Happy New Year, mothers! (С новым годом, мамы!)||Himself|
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