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Annie Girardot
Culture

Cinematic icon Annie Girardot dies

By Matthieu Boisseau
02/03/2011

French actress and 1950s cinematic icon Annie Girardot died on Monday aged 79 after a long struggle with Alzheimer's. She was 79.
 
"Today French cinema is mourning one of its most likeable, most distinguished and most remarkable people," Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand told reporters. Throughout her 120-film career, she became a symbol of the feminist movement in France, thanks to her everyday woman image, far from the pouting pin-up Brigitte Bardot. Coming from modest backgrounds - she trained as a nurse before becoming a stage actress - she used to claim that she has never been 'a velvety star' : 'I have always gone to the market myself, done my shopping, my housework'. Her genuine unpretentiousness and touching sensitivety  may go some way to explain her enormous fan-base.
 
She made her name in 1969 starring as a prostitute in Luchino Visconti's 1960s cult "Rocco and his Brothers", and then won a French Cesar award for best actress for her role as an overworked doctor, abandoned by both husband and lover, in the 1976 film "Dr Francoise Gailland".
 


Annie Girardot: César du meilleur second rôle
 

After several years' absence from the screen due to personal problems and wrong film choices, she made a successful come-back in the 1990s with "Les Miserables". It earned her a best supporting actress Cesar, and so did her role as Isabelle Huppert's tyrannical mother in the 2002 Michael Haneke film "The Piano Teacher". She moved the public to tears during the 1996 Award Ceremony by declaring : 'I don't know if French cinema has been missing me, but I've been missing French cinema a lot'.
 
As a tribute, Jean Cocteau's words seem most apt: he described Girardot as "the most beautiful post-war dramatic temperament", and film director Claude Lelouch, who shot "Life for Life" with her in 1967, who called Girardot "French cinema's greatest post-war actress".

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