Jacqueline Bisset


Actor
Jacqueline Bisset

About

Also Known As
Jackie Bisset, Winnifred Jacqueline Fraser-Bisset
Birth Place
Surrey, England, GB
Born
September 13, 1944

Biography

British actress Jacqueline Bisset rose to fame in the 1970s as the object of desire for numerous top actors in features like "Bullitt" (1968), "Airport" (1970), "The Deep" (1977) and "The Greek Tycoon" (1978). Few of these roles allowed her to express anything more than slow-simmering sexuality, but gradually films like Francois Truffaut's "Day for Night" (1973), George Cukor's "Rich and...

Family & Companions

Michael Sarrazin
Companion
Actor. Had long-term relationship.
Victor Drai
Companion
Producer, restaurateur. Had long-term relationship.
Alexander Godunov
Companion
Dancer, actor. Together c. 1982-88; died May 18, 1995 at age 45; death later attributed to acute alcoholism.
Vincent Perez
Companion
Actor. Dated in 1989.

Notes

"I get offered quite a lot of things, and I guess I would be very rich, but would I be interested? The best money would be to sign up for five years on a series. That's not my bag. I don't like the idea of being owned by anybody. My life is now between here (Hollywood) and Europe and I'd have to stay in one place more time than I want to." --Jacqueline Bisset in Us, May 14, 1990.

"Marriage is a lovely dream. I don't know if it's a lovely reality. I do believe in sticking in there ... I do think I will one day be married." --Bisset in Us, May 14, 1990.

Biography

British actress Jacqueline Bisset rose to fame in the 1970s as the object of desire for numerous top actors in features like "Bullitt" (1968), "Airport" (1970), "The Deep" (1977) and "The Greek Tycoon" (1978). Few of these roles allowed her to express anything more than slow-simmering sexuality, but gradually films like Francois Truffaut's "Day for Night" (1973), George Cukor's "Rich and Famous" (1981) and John Huston's "Under the Volcano" (1983) revealed her talent for intelligent, complex performances. Unlike many actresses as they approached their fourth and fifth decades, Bisset remained active and in demand, playing a wide range of parts from stalwart mothers to seductive socialites. What remained constant throughout her four-decade career was her cool elegance, which preserved her iconic status as one of the screen's great international beauties.

Born Winifred Jacqueline Bisset in the town of Weybridge in Surrey, England on Sept. 13, 1944, she was the daughter of Scottish doctor Max Bisset and his French wife, Arlette, a former lawyer who taught her daughter to speak her native tongue fluently. Bisset's initial passion was ballet, which she studied as a child, but as she grew into a willowy adolescent, she was considered too tall to pursue dance as a career. Bisset's teenage years were marked by major upheaval in her family life. After her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, her father left the family, forcing his daughter to support her mother and younger brother, Max through modeling. The latter job led to an interest in acting, and Bisset made her screen debut as an uncredited extra in Richard Lester's "The Knack. and How to Get It" (1965), which also launched the film careers of Charlotte Rampling and Jane Birkin.

She earned her first lines in Roman Polanski's "Cul-de-Sac" (1966), but soon settled into a series of ornamental roles that were largely defined by her next picture, the all-star James Bond spoof, "Casino Royale" (1966), which cast her as Miss Goodthighs. Bit roles soon blossomed into supporting parts in "The Detective" (1968), where she replaced Mia Farrow as the wife of a murder victim investigated by Frank Sinatra, and "The Sweet Ride" (1968), a counterculture drama that earned her a Golden Globe nomination as a mystery woman who came between beach bums Tony Franciosa, Michael Sarrazin and Bob Denver. In 1969, she was an innocent teen whose trip to America ends in romantic failure and prostitution in Jerry Paris' relentlessly downbeat "The Grasshopper."

Bisset's star-making role finally came in 1968 with "Bullitt," where her cool beauty was matched perfectly by Steve McQueen's frosty dramatics as a tough San Francisco detective with a penchant for hard driving. The film's popularity elevated Bisset to major Hollywood features in the 1970s, though not more substantive roles; she was pilot Dean Martin's pregnant mistress - and perhaps the first actress to belt Helen Hayes across the face - in the big-budget disaster film "Airport" (1970), then played elegant love interests for such actors as Alan Alda in "The Mephisto Waltz" (1971), Paul Newman in "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean" (1972), Ryan O'Neal in "The Thief Who Came to Dinner" (1973), Charles Bronson in "St. Ives" (1976) and Anthony Quinn, as a thinly disguised Aristotle Onassis, who romanced Bisset's ersatz Jacqueline Kennedy in "The Greek Tycoon" (1978). Her most memorable turn of the decade came in "The Deep" (1977), Peter Yates' adaptation of the popular thriller by Peter Benchley. The film boosted her status as a pin-up thanks to its opening sequence, in which Bisset appeared in a wet t-shirt that left little to the imagination. She later denounced the scene, stating that producer Peter Guber had assured her that it would not be shot in an exploitative way.

Feeling frustrated by the lack of quality projects from Hollywood, Bisset returned to Europe throughout the 1970s, where she played a British actress on the verge of a nervous breakdown in Francois Truffaut's backstage drama "Day for Night" (1973). The picture, which she later declared as her most fulfilling film role, reversed most critics' perception of her as little more than a pretty face, and led to more work overseas, including Philippe Broca's spy spoof "Le Magnifique" (1973), with French movie idol Jean-Paul Belmondo; Sidney Lumet's Oscar-winning, all-star adaptation of Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974), and the German thriller "End of the Game" (1975) for director Maximilian Schell. She and Schell also later shared godparent duties for Angelina Jolie, daughter of the film's star, Jon Voight. Bisset ended the 1970s with a Golden Globe nomination for her turn as a pastry chef targeted by a killer in the charming comedy-thriller, "Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?"

Bisset began the 1980s on a sour note with huge back-to-back flops in Irwin Allen's disaster film "When Time Ran Out" (1980) and the epic Korean War drama "Inchon" (1981), which earned brickbats for receiving funding by the Unification Church. But she quickly rebounded with a string of successful and mature dramas, starting in 1981 with "Rich and Famous." Directed by the legendary George Cukor, the film followed a pair of friends (Bisset and Candice Bergen) through four turbulent decades of romances, successes and failures. The film also marked Bisset's sole effort as a producer in an earnest attempt to wrest control over her career.

Though "Class" (1983), an ironically class-free sex comedy about a prep school student (Andrew McCarthy) sleeping with friend Rob Lowe's mother (Bisset) was undoubtedly her most financially successful film of the decade, her subsequent choices were critically acclaimed dramas, including several for American television, which helped to finally establish Bisset as a capable and versatile actress. She earned a Golden Globe nomination as the wife of an alcoholic consul (her "Two for the Road" co-star Albert Finney) in John Huston's "Under the Volcano" (1984), and then received a CableACE nod as German countess Nina von Halder, who hid her Jewish boyfriend (Jurgen Prochnow) from the Nazis in "Forbidden" (1985). Clare Peploe's "High Season" (1987) gave her a leading role as a photographer who becomes embroiled in small town dramas on the Greek island of Rhodes, while Paul Bartel's "Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills" (1989) allowed her a rare shot at comedy as a wealthy widow beset by everything from amorous employees to the ghost of her husband (Paul Mazursky).

As the 1990s ushered Bisset into her fifth decade, she worked largely in independent features and TV movies on both sides of the Atlantic, most notably in Claude Chabrol's "La Ceremonie" (1995), which earned her a Cesar nomination as a wealthy woman whose cruel treatment of her dyslexic servant (Sandrine Bonnaire) is repaid with violence. In 1999, she received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations as Isabelle d'Arc, mother of French martyr "Joan of Arc" (CBS), then moved to a more historical matriarch - specifically, Mary of Nazareth and Sarah, wife of Abraham - in the miniseries "Jesus" (CBS, 2000) and "In the Beginning" (NBC, 2000), respectively. Her legendary allure also made her a go-to for mature, glamorous and sexually confident women of power, which she essayed in features like "Dangerous Beauty" (1998), where her 16th century courtesan instructed her daughter (Catherine McCormack) in the family business, and "Domino" (2005), which cast her as fashion model Paulene Stone, whose daughter, Domino Harvey, became a bounty hunter. Her versatility allowed her to play both the ruthless head of a black market organ ring in the fourth season of "Nip/Tuck" (FX, 2003-2010), and a kindly 19th century grandmother in "An Old Fashioned Christmas' (Hallmark Channel, 2008). In 2010, she received the Legion of Honor from French president Nicholas Sarkozy. Bisset co-starred opposite Chiwetel Ejiofor in the 1930s period piece "Dancing on the Edge" (Starz 2013), a miniseries about a black jazz band's arrival in London society. Her performance as Lady Cremone won Bisset the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, but her win was overshadowed by her strange, meandering acceptance speech, punctuated by long silences. It became the most talked-about moment of the 2014 Golden Globes, including a parody on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC 1975- ).

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Adriana Trigiani's Very Valentine (2019)
Backstabbing for Beginners (2018)
Asher (2017)
9/11 (2017)
Welcome to New York (2015)
Miss You Already (2015)
Peter and John (2015)
Two Jacks (2013)
An Old Fashioned Christmas (2010)
Antonio Vivaldi (2009)
An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (2008)
Death in Love (2008)
Carolina Moon (2007)
Steppin' Up (2006)
The Fine Art of Love - Mine Haha (2005)
Domino (2005)
FASCINATION (2005)
Maureen Doherty
The Survivors Club (2004)
Carol Rosen
Swing (2004)
Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004)
America's Prince: The John F. Kennedy, Jr. Story (2003)
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Latter Days (2003)
Lila
Dancing at the Harvest Moon (2002)
The Sleepy Time Gal (2001)
Jesus Part 2 (2000)
Witch Hunt (2000)
New Year's Day (2000)
Geraldine
Jesus Part 1 (2000)
Sex & Mrs. X (2000)
Madame Simone
Les Gens qui s'aiment (1999)
Angie
Let the Devil Wear Black (1999)
Dangerous Beauty (1998)
End of Summer (1997)
Once You Meet a Stranger (1996)
La Ceremonie (1995)
Catherine
Crime Broker (1994)
Holly Mcphee
Leave of Absence (1994)
Hoffman's Hunger (1993)
Marian
Les Marmottes (1993)
Rossini, Rossini (1991)
The Maid (1991)
Nicole Chantrelle
Wild Orchid (1990)
Scenes From the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989)
La Maison de Jade (1989)
Jane Lambert
High Season (1988)
Katherine
Choices (1986)
Forbidden (1985)
Nina Von Halder
Anna Karenina (1985)
Anna Karenina
Under the Volcano (1984)
Yvonne Firmin
Observations Under the Volcano (1984)
Herself
Notes From Under the Volcano (1984)
Herself
Class (1983)
Inchon (1982)
Barbara Hallsworth
Rich and Famous (1981)
When Time Ran Out (1980)
Amo Non Amo (1979)
Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978)
Natasha O'Brien
Secrets (1978)
The Greek Tycoon (1978)
The Deep (1977)
Gail Burke
St. Ives (1976)
La Donna Della Domenica (1976)
Anna Carla
Murder on the Bridge (1975)
Anna Crawley
The Spiral Staircase (1975)
Helen Mallory
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
The Thief Who Came to Dinner (1973)
Le Magnifique (1973)
Day for Night (1973)
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)
Rose Bean
Stand Up and Be Counted (1972)
Sheila Hammond
Believe in Me (1971)
Pamela
The Mephisto Waltz (1971)
Paula Clarkson
The Grasshopper (1970)
Christine Adams
Airport (1970)
Gwen Meighen
The First Time (1969)
Anna
Secret World (1969)
Wendy
Bullitt (1968)
Cathy
The Sweet Ride (1968)
Vicki
The Detective (1968)
Norma MacIver
Two for the Road (1967)
Jackie
Casino Royale (1967)
Miss Goodthighs
Cul-de-Sac (1966)
Jacqueline
The Knack ... and how to get it (1965)

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Observations Under the Volcano (1984)
Other

Cast (Special)

Roman Polanski: Reflections of Darkness (2000)
Interviewee
John Singer Sargent: Outside the Frame (2000)
Narration
The AFI's 100 Years... 100 Stars (1999)
Mickey Rourke: The E! True Hollywood Story (1999)
The Hustons: Hollywood's Maverick Dynasty (1998)
Impressionists on the Seine (1998)
Narration
Steve McQueen: King of Cool (1998)
Intimate Portrait: Jacqueline Bisset (1998)
Anthony Quinn (1998)
The Hollywood Fashion Machine (1995)
49th Annual Golden Globe Awards (1992)
Host
The 61st Annual Academy Awards Presentation (1989)
Performer
Women of the World (1986)
The Night of 100 Stars II (1985)
Pavarotti and Friends (1982)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

In the Beginning (2000)
Britannic (2000)
Jesus (2000)
Joan of Arc (1999)
Isabelle D'Arc
September (1996)
Pandora
Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story (1987)

Life Events

1965

First film appearance, "The Knack ... and How to Get It"

1966

Made acting debut in Roman Polanski's "Cul-de-Sac"

1967

Cast in the movie "Two for the Road," with Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney

1967

Appeared in the James Bond satire, "Casino Royale" as Miss Goodthighs

1968

Cast in her breakout role as Steve McQueen's girlfriend in the hit film "Bullitt"; directed by Peter Yates

1968

Made French-language debut in "La promesse"

1970

Joined an ensemble cast for the blockbuster disaster film "Airport"

1972

Co-starred with Paul Newman and Anthony Perkins in "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean"

1973

Appeared opposite Ryan O'Neal in "The Thief Who Came to Dinner"

1973

Co-starred in the French film "Day for Night"; directed by François Truffaut

1974

Re-teamed with Perkins for the ensemble mystery "Murder on the Orient Express"

1975

Cast in the lead role in Luigi Comencini's "La donna della domenica"

1977

Starred in Peter Yates' "The Deep," with Robert Shaw and Nick Nolte

1978

Earned her first Golden Globe nomination for the comedy "Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?"

1981

Co-starred with Candice Bergen in "Rich and Famous"; also produced

1983

Played an older woman who has an affair with her son's friend in "Class"

1984

Received second Golden Globe nomination for her role in "Under the Volcano"

1985

Made TV-movie debut as "Anna Karenina" (ABC)

1987

Made TV miniseries debut as Josephine in "Napoleon and Josephine" (ABC)

1989

Co-starred with Mickey Rourke in the erotic film "Wild Orchid"

1995

Played a wealthy housewife in the French film "La Cérémonie"

1998

Played the mother of the Italian courtesan, Veronica Franco (Catherine McCormack) in "Dangerous Beauty"

2000

Cast as the Virgin Mary in the CBS miniseries "Jesus"

2001

Earned praise for her performance as a terminally ill woman in "The Sleepy Time Gal"

2001

Guest-starred on two episodes of FOX's "Ally McBeal"

2003

Portrayed Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis in "America's Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story" (TBS)

2005

Played Sophie Wynn, Domino's mother (played by Keira Knightley), in Tony Scott's "Domino"

2006

Had a recurring role on FX's "Nip/Tuck" as a former madam

2009

Played a woman who survives a Nazi concentration camp in "Death in Love"

Videos

Movie Clip

The Knack... And How To Get It - It's Not Like That American director Richard Lester with a characteristically quirky opening in the UK, Michael Crawford as teacher Colin, Ray Brooks his womanizing tenant Tolen, whose recurring group of girls is said to include Charlotte Rampling and Jacqueline Bisset, from The Knack... And How To Get It, 1965.
Two For The Road (1967) - How Can You Be So Callous? Joanna (Audrey Hepburn) has narrated a leap back to the European trip when she and Mark (Albert Finney) first met, her traveling with a singing troupe fronted by dazzling Jackie (Jacqueline Bisset), him a footloose young architect, in Stanley Donen’s Two For The Road, 1967.
Bullitt (1968) - I Lost My Place Plentiful style, as San Francisco cop Steve McQueen (title character) collects commercial artist girlfriend Cathy (Jacqueline Bisset) at work, proceeding to a jazz club, now the Betelnut restaurant on Union Street, a local combo called Meridian West playing, in Peter Yates' Bullitt, 1968.
Day For Night (1973) - She Must Be Fine Now Nathalie Baye and Dani as crew members Joelle and Odile, Walter Bal the cameraman, director Francois Truffaut playing director Ferrand, Jacqueline Bisset as actress Julie, dominating without appearing, Bernard Menez the prop man, and Jean-Pierre Leaud as actor Alphonse, in Day For Night, 1973.
Day For Night (1973) - Why Can't The Secretary Be Pregnant? Francois Truffaut directs himself as director Ferrand, dealing with a casting crisis with his producer (Jean Bertrand), a contribution from composer Georges Delerue, a cavalcade of tributes to Truffaut’s idols and friends, and Jacqueline Bisset arriving as Julie, the star, in Day For Night, 1973.
Thief Who Came To Dinner, The (1973) - How Come You Haven't Caught Him? Houston “Chess Burglar” Webster (Ryan O’Neal), staying with impoverished-heiress girlfriend Laura (Jacqueline Bisset), is not a bit worried that insurance detective Reilly (Warren Oates) has linked him to the latest job, even divulging one of his tactics, in The Thief Who Came To Dinner, 1973.
Thief Who Came To Dinner, The (1973) - Too Beautiful To Be Any Good Ryan O’Neal, as nerd-turned thief Webster, has burgled and blackmailed Houston big-shot Henderling (Charles Cioffi) into introducing him to rich friends, including unattached Laura (Jacqueline Bisset), with blaring 70’s tuxedos, in The Thief Who Came To Dinner, 1973, from TV’s Bud Yorkin.
Airport (1970) - I'm His Disaster Insurance Barbara Hale is the sister of airport manager Bakersfield (Burt Lancaster), who doesn’t like his playboy brother-in-law pilot Demerest (Dean Martin), whom she’s just dropped off, and who scampers out to see his stewardess girlfriend Gwen (Jacqueline Bisset), in the disaster-melodrama hit Airport, 1970.
Airport (1970) - He's Got A Bomb! Stewardess Gwen (Jacqueline Bisset) and pilot Demerest (Dean Martin) are actually in league with elderly stowaway Mrs. Quonsett (Helen Hayes), whom they’ve enlisted to help create a diversion because they know Guerrero (Van Heflin), sitting next to her, has a bomb, in Airport, 1970.
Under The Volcano - Remains Of Seven Men Yvonne (Jacqueline Bisset) can't help finding drunken ex-diplomat Firmin (Albert Finney), whom she's just divorced, the morning after a bender in a Cuernavaca bar, in John Huston's Under The Volcano, 1984.
Under The Volcano - Opening, Day Of The Dead The memorable opening credit sequence from John Huston's Under The Volcano, 1984, starring Albert Finney and Jacqueline Bisset, from the Malcolm Lowry, photographed by Gabriel Figueroa.
Deep, The - Open, Bermuda Director Peter Yates' creditable opening sequence is famous only for its display of Jacqueline Bisset's scuba-diving anatomy, which goes on for some time, with Nick Nolte, in The Deep, 1977, from a Peter Benchley novel.

Trailer

Family

Max Fraser-Bisset
Father
Doctor. Scottish; divorced Bisset's mother in 1968 after 28 years of marraige; died in 1982.
Arlette Fraser-Bisset
Mother
Lawyer. Of French and English descent; escaped Germans in 1940 by cycling from Paris to the coast and boarding a British trooper; diagnosed with multiple sclerosis; husband divorced her in 1968 after 28 years of marriage; divides time between London and her daughter's home in Beverly Hills.
Max Fraser-Bisset
Brother
Business consultant. Lives in Florida.

Companions

Michael Sarrazin
Companion
Actor. Had long-term relationship.
Victor Drai
Companion
Producer, restaurateur. Had long-term relationship.
Alexander Godunov
Companion
Dancer, actor. Together c. 1982-88; died May 18, 1995 at age 45; death later attributed to acute alcoholism.
Vincent Perez
Companion
Actor. Dated in 1989.
Emin Boztepe
Companion
Martial artist. Turkish; born c. 1963; together since 1994.

Bibliography

Notes

"I get offered quite a lot of things, and I guess I would be very rich, but would I be interested? The best money would be to sign up for five years on a series. That's not my bag. I don't like the idea of being owned by anybody. My life is now between here (Hollywood) and Europe and I'd have to stay in one place more time than I want to." --Jacqueline Bisset in Us, May 14, 1990.

"Marriage is a lovely dream. I don't know if it's a lovely reality. I do believe in sticking in there ... I do think I will one day be married." --Bisset in Us, May 14, 1990.

In 1977, Bisset threatened to sue after unauthorized photographs of her in a wet T-shirt from "The Deep" were published.

On George Cukor, her director on "Rich and Famous," Bisset told Vanity Fair in July 1989: "Sometimes I hated his guts. I just wanted him to go to hell. It was very hard to be treated rudely in public like that. I was still probably wallowing in the seriousness of being young; he was too old to want to be serious. He just wanted to have a laugh. So he'd make these cutting remarks. Whenever we'd fall into a pause, he'd yell, 'Greedy pauses! There's a train coming through!' I had to go through that again with John Huston [on "Under the Volcano"]. The experience with working with those kinds of men was very humbling and not terribly agreeable."

Jacqueline Bisset ... would be a sure-fire winner in the category of scariest first movie experiences. Bisset told Webster Hall curator Baird Jones that in her first big role, in 1967's "Casino Royale," she was supposed to seduce James Bond wearing a nightgown and suggestively cradling a big bottle of bubbly in her arms. But she was shocked when, as a "sick joke," Peter Sellers, as 007, suddenly turned on her and fired a gun directly into her face when she entered the room. Though the gun only had blanks, the stunt left her face coated in burning gunpowder and bleeding from where the shards tore her skin.

"First I thought I had been actually shot and then when I realized it had been a blank, I thought I'd been blinded. My face looked like a shower spout of pinpricks leaking blood," said Bisset. On top of that, the noise scared Bisset so much, she dropped the champagne bottle on her feet. After that, "I was panicked whenever I had a scene with Peter Sellers," said Bisset. "To get shot in your first scene with a big star, that is a nightmare." --From "Page Six", New York Post, April 20, 2001.