Danielle Yvonne Marie Antoinette Darrieux (French pronunciation: ​[da.niɛl i.vɔn ma.ʁi ɑ̃.twa.nɛt daʁ.jø]; 1 May 1917 – 18 October 2017) was a French actress and singer.

She has appeared in more than 110 films since 1931. She is one of France’s great movie stars and her eight-decade career is among the longest in film history. She turned 100 in May 2017.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Darrieux was born in Bordeaux, France during World War I to a physician who was serving in the French Army. Her father died when she was seven years old. Raised in Paris, she studied the cello at the Conservatoire de Musique. At 13, she won a part in the musical film Le Bal (1931). Her beauty combined with her singing and dancing ability led to numerous other offers, and the film Mayerling (1936) brought her to fame.

In 1935, Darrieux married director/screenwriter Henri Decoin, who encouraged her to try Hollywood. She signed with Universal Studios to star in The Rage of Paris (1938) opposite Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Afterwards, she elected to return to Paris.

Under the German occupation of France during World War II, she continued to perform, a decision that was severely criticized by her compatriots. However, it is reported that her brother had been threatened with deportation by Alfred Greven, the manager of the German run film production company in occupied France, Continental. She got a divorce and then fell in love with Porfirio Rubirosa, a Dominican Republic diplomat and notorious womanizer. They married in 1942. His anti-Nazi opinions resulted in his forced residence in Germany. In exchange for Rubirosa’s freedom, Darrieux agreed to make a promotional trip in Berlin. The couple lived in Switzerland until the end of the war, and divorced in 1947. She married scriptwriter Georges Mitsikidès in 1948, and they lived together until his death in 1991.

She gave a good performance in the 1951 MGM musical Rich, Young and PrettyJoseph L. Mankiewicz lured her back to Hollywood to star in 5 Fingers (1952) opposite James Mason. Upon returning to France, she appeared in Max Ophüls‘ The Earrings of Madame de… (1953) opposite Charles Boyer, and The Red and the Black (1954) opposite Gérard Philippe. The next year she starred in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, whose theme of uninhibited sexuality led to its being proscribed by Catholic censors in the United States.

During the late 1950s, she played a supporting role in her last American film to date, United Artists‘ epic Alexander the Great (1956) starring Richard Burton and Claire Bloom. In 1961 she went to England at the request of director Lewis Gilbert to star in The Greengage Summer opposite Kenneth More. In 1963, she starred in the romantic comedy La Robe Mauve de Valentine at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris. The play was adapted from the novel by Françoise Sagan. Then, in 1966, she played a memorable supporting role in Jacques Demy‘s musical The Young Girls of Rochefort. She is notable for being the only principal actor in any of Demy’s film-musicals to sing her own songs. (All other actors had a separate person voice their singing parts.) During the 1960s she also was a concert singer.

In 1970, Darrieux replaced Katharine Hepburn in the Broadway musical Coco, based on the life of Coco Chanel,[2] but the play, essentially a showcase for Hepburn, soon folded without her. In 1971 and 1972 she also appeared in the short-lived productions of Ambassador. In 1982, she worked again with Demy for his film Une chambre en ville, an opera-like musical melodrama reminiscent of the director’s earlier masterpiece The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Once again, Darrieux provided her own vocals for her songs.

For her long service to the motion picture industry, in 1985 she was given an Honorary César Award. She has continued to work, her career now spanning eight decades, most recently providing the voice of the protagonist’s grandmother in the animated feature, Persepolis (2007), which deals with the impact of the Islamic revolution on a girl’s life as she grows to adulthood in Iran.

Danielle Darreux died on 19th October 2017 aged 100.

Cultural references[edit]

She was paid homage in Quentin Tarantino‘s Inglourious Basterds (2009): when Shosanna Dreyfus is preparing to take the Nazis down, her assistant calls her Danielle Darrieux.

Selected filmography[edit]

Danielle Darrieux in 2008

Year Title Role Director
1931 Le Bal Antoinette Wilhelm Thiele
1934 Volga en flammes (fr) Macha Victor Tourjansky
The Crisis is Over Nicole Robert Siodmak
Mauvaise Graine Jeannette Billy Wilder and Alexander Esway
Mon cœur t’appelle Nicole Nadin Carmine Gallone and Serge Veber
L’Or dans la rue Gaby Kurt Bernhardt
1935 Dédé Denise René Guissart
Mad Girl Lucie Léo Joannon
The Green Domino Hélène and Marianne de Richmond Herbert Selpin and Henri Decoin
1936 Mademoiselle Mozart Denise Yvan Noé
Mayerling Maria Vetsera Anatole Litvak
Taras Bulba Marina Alexis Granowsky
Women’s Club Claire Derouve Jacques Deval
Port Arthur Youki Nicolas Farkas
Un mauvais garçon Jacqueline Serval Jean Boyer and Raoul Ploquin
1937 My Mother Is a Miss Jacqueline Letournel Henri Decoin
Abused Confidence Lydia Henri Decoin
1938 The Rage of Paris Nicole Henry Koster
Katia Katia Dolgoronsky Maurice Tourneur
Returned at Dawn Anita Ammer Henri Decoin
1940 Beating Heart Arlette Henri Decoin
1941 Her First Affair Micheline Chevasse Henri Decoin
1942 Caprices Lise Léo Joannon
Twisted Mistress Lilian Rander André Cayatte
1947 Bethsabée (fr) Arabella Dalvert Léonide Moguy
1948 Ruy Blas Queen of Spain Pierre Billon
1949 Keep an Eye on Amelia Amélie Claude Autant-Lara
1950 La Ronde Emma Breitkopf Max Ophüls
Romanzo d’amore Archduchess Louise of Austria Duilio Coletti
1951 Rich, Young and Pretty Marie Devaronne Norman Taurog
1952 The Truth About Bebe Donge Elisabeth “Bébé” Donge Henri Decoin
House of Pleasure
(episode “La maison Tellier”)
Rosa Max Ophüls
5 Fingers Countess Anna Staviska Joseph Mankiewicz
Adorables créatures Christine Christian-Jaque
1953 The Earrings of Madame de… Countess Louise Max Ophüls
Le Bon Dieu sans confession (fr) Janine Fréjoul Claude Autant-Lara
1954 Escalier de service Béatrice Berthier Carlo Rim
Le Rouge et le Noir Madame de Rénal Claude Autant-Lara
One Step to Eternity Constance Andrieux dite Poussy Henri Decoin
1955 Napoléon Eléonore Denuelle Sacha Guitry
L’Affaire des poisons (fr) Madame de Montespan Henri Decoin
Lady Chatterley’s Lover Constance Chatterley Marc Allégret
1956 If Paris Were Told to Us Agnès Sorel Sacha Guitry
Alexander the Great Olympias Robert Rossen
1957 Lovers of Paris Caroline Hédouin Julien Duvivier
Typhon sur Nagasaki Françoise Fabre Yves Ciampi
1958 Le désordre et la nuit Thérèse Marken Gilles Grangier
Life Together Monique Lebeaut Clément Duhour
1959 Marie-Octobre Marie-Hélène Dumoulin (aka “Marie-Octobre”) Julien Duvivier
Les Yeux de l’amour (fr) Jeanne Moncatel Denys de La Patellière
1960 Murder at 45 R.P.M. Eve Faugeres Étienne Périer
L’Homme à femmes (fr) Gabrielle / Françoise Jacques-Gérard Cornu
1961 The Greengage Summer Madame Zisi Lewis Gilbert
The Lions Are Loose Marie-Laure Henri Verneuil
1962 Le Crime ne paie pas
(episode “The Man on the Avenue”)
Lucienne Marsais Gérard Oury
The Devil and the Ten Commandments
(5th episode)
Clarisse Ardan Julien Duvivier
1963 Bluebeard Berthe Héon Claude Chabrol
Be Careful Ladies Hedwige André Hunebelle
1967 The Young Girls of Rochefort Yvonne Garnier Jacques Demy
1968 24 Hours in the Life of a Woman Alice Dominique Delouche
1977 Miss
a. k. a. Ein Fall für Madame
(French-German TV miniseries,
aired in 1979)
Miss Roger Pigaut
1982 Une chambre en ville Margot Langlois Jacques Demy
1983 At the Top of the Stairs Françoise Canavaggia Paul Vecchiali
1986 Scene of the Crime grandmother André Téchiné
1988 A Few Days With Me Madame Pasquier (Martial’s mother) Claude Sautet
2001 8 Women Mamy François Ozon
2003 Les Liaisons dangereuses
(TV miniseries)
Madame de Rosemonde Josée Dayan
2006 Nouvelle chance Odette Saint-Gilles Anne Fontaine
Persepolis (animation film) grandmother (voice) Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi
2007 L’Heure Zéro Camille Tressilian Pascal Thomas
2010 C’est toi, c’est tout
(TV movie)
Camille Jacques Santamaria
2010 Pièce montée Madeleine Denys Granier-Deferre


Year Awards Category Film Result
1987 César Award Best Supporting Actress Scene of the Crime Nominated
2002 Berlin International Film Festival Silver Bear – Outstanding Artistic Achievement 8 Women Won
2002 César Award Best Supporting Actress 8 Women Nominated
2002 European Film Awards Best Actress (all the cast) 8 Women Won
2002 Online Film Critics Society Best Cast 8 Women Nominated



  • Darrieux, Danielle; Ferrière, Jean-Pierre (1995). Danielle Darrieux – Filmographie commentée par elle-même. Paris: Ramsay Cinéma. ISBN 2-84114-113-6.

External links[edit]


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