Belfast Telegraph

French actress Girardot dies at 79

Annie Girardot, the perky, gravel-voiced actress who became one of France's most enduring and acclaimed modern stars, has died aged 79.

Girardot, with awards for both film and theatre in a decades-long career, had suffered for years from Alzheimer's disease and a Paris hospital said she died on Monday.

With an enthusiastic nature that never seemed to fail, Girardot captured the hearts of French lovers of cinema and theatre.

"The French cinema is a widow today," said culture minister Frederic Mitterrand.

Film director Claude Lelouch, who made her his star in six movies, compared Girardot to Edith Piaf, saying she was the stage equivalent of the French singing legend. However, Piaf gained worldwide recognition whereas Girardot's talent stayed closer to home.

Among Lelouch's films starring Girardot was the 1969 A Man Who Pleases Me, in which she played opposite Jean-Paul Belmondo.

Girardot was acclaimed for her comedic performance in 1954 at the Academie Francaise, but made her movie debut the following year with Andre Hunebelle's Thirteen At The Table. However, it was not until 1960 that her film career was truly launched with Luchino Visconti's Rocco And His Brothers, in which she starred with Alain Delon.

During her career, Girardot performed in more than 100 films, and won France's coveted Cesar award three times - in 1976 for best actress for her role in Jean-Louis Bertuccelli's Doctor Francoise Gailland, for best supporting actress for Les Miserables in 1995, and for playing a possessive mother of a musician in Michael Haneke's Le Pianiste in 2001.

Despite her productivity, Girardot was pushed aside by innovative directors such as Francois Truffaut, and she spent years sidelined.

Girardot is survived by her daughter Julia. Funeral arrangements were not immediately known.

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