It’s a sad day in show business as acclaimed French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo has passed away. Belmondo, who achieved international fame with his memorable role in Jean-Luc Godard’s New Wave classic Breathless, reportedly died on Monday at his home in Paris. No information has yet been revealed about the cause of death, but his passing was confirmed by his lawyer Michel Godest. Belmondo was 88 years old.
Jean-Paul Charles Belmondo was born on April 9, 1933, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. As a teenager, Belmondo took an interest in boxing, though he retired undefeated after winning three fights. He then had a stint in the military, serving in Algeria as a private for half a year, though he had gotten bit by the acting bug by his late teens. At the age of 20, he attended the Conservatoire of Dramatic Arts, studying the craft to launch his career as a performer.
Starting in theatre, Belmondo had started appearing in French movies by the mid-50s, picking up his first lead role in 1958’s Les Copains du dimanche. One of his first star roles came in the 1960 gangster movie Classe tous risques as a young gangster who serves as the driver. Perhaps his biggest role of all came that year as well when he starred in Jean-Luc Godard’s A bout de souffle, aka Breathless, which made him a face of the French New Wave. 1964’s That Man from Rio further cemented the actor’s fame and acclaim.
For decades, Belmondo would appear in dozens of movies and TV shows, primarily in France. His last ever role would be for 2009’s Un homme et son chien, aka A Man and His Dog. The movie starred Belmondo in the lead as an old retiree who’s forced to wander the streets of Paris with his dog when his lover kicks him out of her home. Francis Huster co-wrote and directed the movie.
In 2001, Belmondo suffered a severe stroke, rendering him unable to speak for six months with the right side of his body paralyzed. The actor would find his way back to the screen years later, picking up a lead role in A Man and His Dog, giving him the chance to grace the big screen one more time. He received an honorary Palme d’Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival along with an honorary Golden Lion at the 2016 Venice Film Festival and an honorary Cesar in 2017.
“I’ve had the luck to be among those actors who’ve delved into all sorts of genres, from brainy New Wave films to laugh-out-loud comedies. I really have no regrets,” Belmondo told Premiere in 2016.
Belmondo has been married twice, wedding first wife Elodie Constantin in 1959. The couple had three children — Florence, Paul, and the late Patricia — before getting divorced in 1966. Belmondo is also known for dating Bond girl Ursula Andress for many years, though the two never got married. In 1989, the actor started seeing ballet and TV danseuse Natty Tardivel, and the pair were later married from 2002-08. They also had a daughter, Stella, during their relationship.
We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Belmondo at this time. The actor’s incredible work on screen will ensure that his legacy will forever shine brightly, but for those who knew him, he will be very badly missed. Rest in peace. This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.