- Jean-Paul Belmondo passes away at age 88.
- The legend of French movie industry dies.
- The actor had been unwell for some time after suffering a stroke in 2001.
French cinema superstar Jean-Paul Belmondo, who shot to international fame in Jean-Luc Godard’s revolutionary New Wave classic “Breathless”, has died at the age of 88, his lawyer confirmed.
The actor had been unwell for some time having suffered a stroke in 2001.
Belmondo – nicknamed Bébel by French audiences – became one of the biggest box-office French New Wave stars in the 60s and 70s, his battered-looking face a contrast to the chiseled features of his rival and sometime-collaborator Alain Delon.
Belmondo’s films were collectively viewed more than 130 million times at the theaters.
Born in 1933 in the well-to-do Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, son of “pied-noir” sculptor Paul Belmondo, Belmondo attended a string of elite private schools but did poorly. He showed more interest in sport, and embarked on a brief amateur boxing career as a teenager. After contracting tuberculosis, he became interested in performing, and applied to the elite National Academy of Dramatic Arts, eventually gaining a place in 1952.
After graduation, Belmondo began acting in the theatre, appearing in plays by Anouilh, Feydeau and George Bernard Shaw. He also secured a string of small film roles.
Starting with his role in Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless,” he became a central figure of France’s New Wave cinema. Perhaps best known for his roles in crime dramas and thrillers, he also starred in melodramas with Romy Schneider and Alain Delon. He was even known to do his own stunts.
Belmondo’s health took a turn for the worst in 2001 when he suffered a stroke and was admitted to hospital in Paris, France. He was partially paralyzed by the stroke and had to spend time relearning to walk and talk.
He subsequently took a break from acting but returned to the big screen in 2009 with “A Man and His Dog.” It turned out to be his last film and was poorly received by critics. Belmondo later apologized for the work but said it had helped him overcome the lingering effects on the stroke.
His lawyer Michel Godest said the actor died at his home in Paris. “He had been very tired for some time. He died quietly.”