French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo has died. He died Monday, at home in Paris. His lawyer Michel Godest reported this to the French news agency AFP. “He had been tired for a while and passed away peacefully,” said Godest. Belmondo was one of the greatest French film stars of the 60s, 70s and 80s. Alongside Jean Seberg, he caused a furor with Jean-Luc Godard’s nouvelle-vague film “À bout de souffle” in 1960. He was 88 years old.
Belmondo came from an artistic family, his father was a sculptor and his mother a painter. After a short career as an amateur boxer, Belmondo studied at the Conservatoire national supérieur d’art dramatique in Paris. Initially, he played minor roles as a wronged rebel or petty criminal. His big break was a role as a car thief in “À bout de souffle”, a film by Jean-Luc Godard, a big name in the film world. This film is also seen as the starting point of the nouvelle vague, a movement that flouts the film rules imposed by Hollywood.
From the VRT archive: In 1961 Jean-Paul Belmondo tells in the film magazine “Première” how he owes his career to “À bout de souffle”. The alternative was to become a boxer:
In the 1960s, Belmondo explored Italian cinema and the nouvelle vague. He played alongside Sophia Loren in Vittoria De Sica’s 1961 “La Ciociara” (“Two Women”) and alongside Anna Karina in Godard’s 1965 “Pierrot Le Fou”.
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He later moved into commercial cinema such as the 1964 adventure film “L’Homme de Rio” by Philippe De Broca. He was known for his fondness of performing his own stunts.
In 2001, Belmondo suffered a stroke and retired from acting. He returned to the silver screen in 2008 with “Un homme et son chien”. In 2017 he received another César d’honneur.
From 2008 to 2012, the Ostend Barbara Gandolfi had a relationship with Belmondo. In 2017, Gandolfi and Belmondo were convicted of fraud, but in 2018 both were acquitted on appeal.
From the archives: In 2012, Jean-Paul Belmondo was awarded the medal of the Order of Leopold in Brussels, one of the highest Belgian awards, which the monarch only very rarely awards: