Leslie Caron


Actor
Leslie Caron

About

Also Known As
Leslie Claire Margaret Caron
Birth Place
France
Born
July 01, 1931

Biography

An unconventional beauty who specialized in waif-like roles in her early career, Leslie Caron was an actress and dancer who rose to fame in the 1950s in such acclaimed musicals as "An American in Paris" (1951) and "Gigi" (1958). Caron also projected considerable warmth and charm in straight dramas, which led to a successful career outside of musicals, including Oscar-nominated turns in "...

Photos & Videos

Fanny - Movie Poster
An American in Paris - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Gigi - Costume Design Sketches

Family & Companions

George Hormel
Husband
Heir to meat-packing fortune. Married in 1951; divorced in 1954.
Peter Hall
Husband
Married in 1956; divorced in 1965.
Michael Laughlin
Husband
Producer. Married in 1969; divorced in 1980.
Paul Magwood
Husband
Divorced.

Biography

An unconventional beauty who specialized in waif-like roles in her early career, Leslie Caron was an actress and dancer who rose to fame in the 1950s in such acclaimed musicals as "An American in Paris" (1951) and "Gigi" (1958). Caron also projected considerable warmth and charm in straight dramas, which led to a successful career outside of musicals, including Oscar-nominated turns in "Gaby" (1958) and "The L-Shaped Room" (1963). Her Hollywood star faded somewhat in the late 1960s and 1970s, though she was active in European productions, where she was well utilized as elegant older women. Caron was still active in the 1990s and early 2000s, enjoying substantive roles in several well-regarded films, including "Damage" (1993), "Chocolat" (2000) and one of the final Merchant-Ivory productions, "Le Divorce" (2003). Her effortless class and grace, both onscreen and off, especially in the face of a high-profile divorce case in 1965, were at the center of her enduring popularity.

Born Leslie Claire Margaret Caron in Boulogne-sur-Seine, France on July 1, 1931, she was prepared for a career in dance from an early age. Father Claude was a chemist, while mother Margaret, an American and former dancer, who introduced her daughter to ballet at the age of 10. The Nazi occupation of France forced her to flee to Cannes, but she returned after the war, and by the age of 16, was performing in the Ballets des Champs Elysee, where Gene Kelly saw her in a production of "La Recontre." The Hollywood icon was moved to meet Caron backstage after the performance, but intense antipathy from her fellow dancers had forced her to flee the theater. Three years later, Kelly would bring her to instant stardom when he cast her as his love interest and chief dance partner in what many considered his greatest film, "An American in Paris" (1951).

The film led to a contract with MGM and more roles in films. Much of Caron's early movie career was devoted to musicals, which made excellent use of her ballet training and endearingly girlish screen persona. She proved a perfect partner for Fred Astaire in "Daddy Long Legs" (1955) and an ideal Cinderella in "The Glass Slipper" (1955), but Caron found screen musicals physically taxing and began to study acting. Gradually, she became known for films that required little or no dancing at all; she earned her first Academy Award as "Lili" (1953), a naïve country girl who falls for a self-pitying puppeteer (Mel Ferrer). With 1958's "Gigi," Caron is Colette's heroine, a young girl trained to become a courtesan by her aunt (Isabel Jeans) and grandmother (Hermione Gingold), which was her final appearance in a major Hollywood musical. In it, she did no dancing at all, and her singing voice was dubbed by Betty Wand. Both films remained enduring classics decades after their release, and helped to cement Caron's status as one of the select performers who came to fame as part of the Hollywood musical's heyday.

By 1956, she had already been married twice - once to meat packing heir George Hormel, and later to British theater legend Peter Hall - and sought more substantive roles. The decline of the musical in the late 1950s provided her with the exit she sought, and Caron was free to pursue straight dramatic and comedic roles. Again, she found success almost immediately; 1961's "Fanny" earned multiple Academy Award nominations for its sweeping story about a young sailor torn between his desire for adventure and his love for a young woman (Caron). Two years later, she earned her second Oscar nomination as a young unmarried mother in Bryan Forbes' drama "The L-Shaped Room" (1963). In 1964's "Father Goose" she was well-matched opposite Cary Grant as a French schoolmistress who must rely on his gruff coast-watcher to evade enemy forces during World War II.

But Caron's film appearances grew fewer and further between by the mid-1960s. Her divorce from Peter Hall in 1965 was tinged with scandal when it was revealed that she had been involved in an affair with Warren Beatty; the actor was later required by a London court to pay legal fees for his part in the dissolution. The news did little good for their 1966 film collaboration, "Promise Her Anything." But she remained active throughout the seventies, where she was called upon to play elegant older women of means. Her best efforts during this period were in Francois Truffant's "The Man Who Loved Women" (1977) and the miniseries "QB VII" (ABC, 1974), though she earned notices for her full-blooded performance as silent film star Alla Nazimova in Ken Russell's atrocious biopic "Valentino" (1978), starring Rudolf Nureyev.

Television on both sides of the Atlantic kept Caron busy throughout the 1980s, most notably in the miniseries "Master of the Game" (CBS, 1987) and a guest role on "Dynasty" (ABC, 1981-89), she also returned to the stage in productions of "On Your Toes" and "One for the Tango," and at 57, performed alongside Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov in a 1988 New York gala for the Paris Opera Ballet. The 1990s saw Caron in some of her best film roles since the 1960s; she was Juliette Binoche's mother in Louis Malle's drama "Damage" (1992), while the HBO drama "Last of the Blonde Bombshells" saw her as the former bass player for an all-female swing band who left the group in World War II to join the French resistance. Lasse Hallstrom's "Chocolat" (2000) reunited her with "Bombshells" star Judi Dench and Juliette Binoche, whose confections awaken a long-dormant romance between a widow (Caron) and her admirer. She later joined "Chocolat" castmate Alfred Molina to play a well-traveled European lady of substance in a modernized TV-movie version of Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express" (2001).

In 2003, Caron co-starred in "Le Divorce," director James Ivory's final co-production with longtime partner Ismail Merchant, as Naomi Watts' mother, who remains steely and imperious in the face of her daughter's mounting tragedies. The actress settled comfortably into semi-retirement by beginning work on her memoirs while operating a bed and breakfast in the countryside south of Paris. But Caron proved that her acting abilities were not yet put to rest with a 2006 turn on "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ). Her performance as a long-silenced rape victim earned her an Emmy Award in 2007.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Leslie Caron: The Reluctant Star (2016)
Herself
Chris & Don: A Love Story (2007)
Herself
Passion's Way (2004)
Regine Dechantelle
Murder on the Orient Express (2001)
Le Mystere Babilee (2001)
Herself
The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2000)
Chocolat (2000)
From Russia to Hollywood: The 100-Year Odyssey of Chekhov and Shdanoff (1999)
Musicals Great Musicals (1996)
Funny Bones (1995)
That's Entertainment! III (1994)
Damage (1992)
Elizabeth Prideaux
Courage Mountain (1989)
Jane Hillary
Guerriers et captives (1989)
Yvonne
The Love Boat: The Christmas Cruise (1986)
Annette Duvall
Dangerous Moves (1984)
Henia
Die Unerreichbare (1982)
Klaudia
Imperativ (1982)
Mother
Tous Vedettes (1980)
Contract (1980)
Goldengirl (1979)
The Man Who Loved Women (1977)
Valentino (1977)
Serail (1976)
Celeste
Chandler (1971)
Katherine
Madron (1970)
Sister Mary
The Head of the Family (1970)
Paola
Is Paris Burning? (1966)
Françoise Labe
Promise Her Anything (1966)
Michele O'Brien
A Very Special Favor (1965)
Lauren Boullard
Father Goose (1964)
Catherine Freneau
Three Fables of Love (1963)
Annie
The L-Shaped Room (1963)
Jane
Guns of Darkness (1962)
Claire Jordan
Fanny (1961)
Fanny
The Subterraneans (1960)
Mardou Fox
Austerlitz (1960)
The Man Who Understood Women (1959)
Ann Garantier
The Doctor's Dilemma (1959)
Mrs. [Jennifer] Dubedat
Gigi (1958)
Gigi Alvarez
Gaby (1956)
Gaby [Gabriel CeCe Natalie Marguerite André Dupluis]
The Glass Slipper (1955)
Ella
Daddy Long Legs (1955)
Julie Andre
Lili (1953)
Lili Daurier
The Story of Three Loves (1953)
Mademoiselle
Glory Alley (1952)
Angela ["Angie"]
The Man with a Cloak (1951)
Madeline Minot
An American in Paris (1951)
Lise Bourvier

Producer (Feature Film)

The Guest (1964)
Financial backers

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Chris & Don: A Love Story (2007)
Other
Le Mystere Babilee (2001)
Other

Cast (Special)

Private Screenings: Leslie Caron (1999)
Ira Gershwin: A Centenary Celebration -- Who Could Ask For Anything More? (1997)
Oscar Levant: Brillant Shadow (1997)
Musicals Great Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit at MGM (1996)
Normandy: The Great Crusade (1994)
Voice Of Marie-Louise Osmont
Cary Grant: The Leading Man (1988)
International TV (1986)
Host
The American Film Institute Salute to Gene Kelly (1985)
Performer

Cast (Short)

The Million Dollar Nickel (1952)
Herself
Love Walked In (1951)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Let It Be Me (1997)
The Ring (1996)
The Man Who Lived at the Ritz (1988)
Master of the Game (1984)
QB VII (1974)

Life Events

1951

Film acting debut in "An American in Paris"

1953

Played signature role of "Lili"; earned Oscar nomination

1954

Appeared as Ella in "The Glass Slipper", a retelling of Cinderella

1955

Last dance musical, "Daddy Long Legs", opposite Fred Astaire

1958

Last musical, "Gigi" (singing voice was dubbed)

1958

Made her London stage debut playing the title role of "Gigi"

1959

French language film debut in Abel Gance's "Austerlitz"

1963

Earned second Oscar nomination for dramatic turn in "The L-Shaped Room"

1964

Starred opposite Cary Grant in "Father Goose"

1974

Had major role in the ABC miniseries "QB VII"

1977

Portrayed flamboyant screen star Alla Nazimova in Ken Russell's "Valentino"

1984

Appeared in CBS's star-studded miniseries of Sydney Sheldon's "Master of the Game"

1985

Starred in national tour of "On Your Toes"

1992

Appeared in Louis Malle's "Damage", playing the mother of Juliette Binoche's character

1995

Acted in Peter Chelsom's "Funny Bones"; stellar cast included Oliver Platt, Jerry Lewis and Oliver Reed

1997

Cast as Sela Ward's mother-in-law in "Passion's Way" (CBS)

2000

Reunited with Dench and Binoche in "Chocolat"

2000

Co-starred with Judi Dench and Ian Holm in the HBO original "The Last of the Blonde Bombshells"

2003

Appeared in James Ivory's "Le Divorce" opposite Naomi Watts and Thierry Lhermitte

2006

Made a rare appearance in front of American cameras to guest-star on NBC's "Law & Order: SVU"

2009

Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Photo Collections

Fanny - Movie Poster
Here is the American One-Sheet Movie Poster from Fanny (1961), starring Leslie Caron. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
An American in Paris - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a number of photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's An American in Paris (1951), directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron.
Gigi - Costume Design Sketches
Here are a few original Cecil Beaton costume design sketches for MGM's Gigi (1958), starring Leslie Caron.
Gigi - Leslie Caron Publicity Stills
Here are some photos of Leslie Caron taken to publicize Gigi (1958). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
The Man with a Cloak - Lobby Cards
Here are several Lobby Cards from MGM's The Man with a Cloak (1951), starring Joseph Cotten, Barbara Stanwyck, and Leslie Caron. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
The Doctor's Dilemma - Publicity Still
Here is a photo taken to help publicize MGM's The Doctor's Dilemma (1958), starring Leslie Caron and Dirk Bogarde. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Gaby - Publicity Stills
Here are a few photos taken to help publicize Back to MGM's Gaby (1956), starring Leslie Caron, John Kerr, and Taina Elg. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Lili - Leslie Caron Publicity Stills
Here are several photos of Leslie Caron, taken to publicize her starring role in MGM's Lili (1953).

Videos

Movie Clip

American In Paris, An (1951) - Our Love Is Here To Stay On the banks of the (MGM soundstage) Seine, painter Jerry (Gene Kelly) and ingenue Lise (Leslie Caron) do their romantic number set to Gershwin's "Our Love Is Here To Stay," in An American In Paris, 1951, from producer Arthur Freed.
American in Paris, An (1951) - A Simple Girl Variations on Gershwin's "Embraceable You" support Henri (Georges Guetary) as he describes his girlfriend Lise (Leslie Caron) to Adam (Oscar Levant) in a fantasy musical sequence in An American In Paris, 1951.
Glass Slipper, The (1955) - Goodbye, Cinder Ella! The narrator sounds like Walter Pidgeon because he is, opening the MGM Leslie Caron vehicle, derived from the first published version of Cinderella (1697, by Charles Perrault, Cendrillon ou la petite pantoufle de verre), directed by Charles Walters, music by Bronislau Kaper, dance by Roland Petit for Ballet de Paris, The Glass Slipper, 1955, also starring Michael Wilding.
Glass Slipper, The (1955) - How Cold Is The Water? The prince Charles (Michael Wilding), just returned to “a small European principality,” and pal Kovin (Keenan Wynn) are wandering in the woods at an old favorite site when Leslie Caron, the indignant local tomboy who’s decided she doesn’t mind being called “Cinderella,” shows up with an attitude, their first meeting, in MGM’s The Glass Slipper, 1955.
Glass Slipper, The (1955) - Son Of The Cook More than 40-minutes into the feature, in a sequence dreamed up by servant girl “Ella” (Leslie Caron), who’s been told that Prince Charles (Michael Wilding) is just “the son of the cook of the palace of the duke,” she joins the first dance number, Charles Walters directing, dance by Roland Petit for Ballet de Paris, in MGM’s The Glass Slipper, 1955.
Gigi (1958) - The Night They Invented Champagne Leslie Caron (title character) has defeated (Louis Jourdan) at cards, whereupon he honors his bet, and they, with Madame Alvarez (Hermione Gingold) launch Lerner and Loewe's "The Night They Invented Champagne," in Gigi, 1958.
Gigi (1958) - The Parisians Leslie Caron (title character) after her session training as a courtesan, launching into Lerner and Loewe's "The Parisians," tripping about the city in Vincente Minnelli's Gigi, 1958.
Lili (1953) - You Have No Family? Everyone’s French and idyllic, Jean Pierre Aumont, Kurt Kasznar and Mel Ferrer haggling over fruit when title character Leslie Caron (in her first role after An American In Paris), arrives, her expectations let down, Alex Gerry as a storekeeper, opening the MGM fantasy musical hit Lili, 1953.
Lili (1953) - I'm A Very Interesting Fellow 16-year-old French orphan Leslie Caron (title character), fired from the carnival after failure as a waitress, moping until puppeteer Paul (Mel Ferrer) sees an opportunity, draws her into conference with his puppets, based on other members of the troupe, in MGM’s Lili, 1953.
Gigi (1958) - Thank Heaven For Little Girls After the elaborate overture and opening, Lachaille (Maurice Chevalier) with the famous Lerner and Loewe number "Thank Heaven For Little Girls," from Vincente Minnelli's best picture winner Gigi, 1958.
Gigi (1958) - Are They Difficult? Leslie Caron (title character) gets a lesson in dining room etiquette from her Aunt Alicia (Isabel Jeans) in this scene from Gigi, 1958, directed by Vincente Minnelli.
Daddy Long Legs (1955) - Sluefoot With much contrivance involving college kids and his posing as her roommate’s uncle, Fred Astaire as tycoon Jervis joins Leslie Caron as student (from France) Julie, Ray Anthony’s band plays a Johnny Mercer tune, dance staged by Astaire and David Robel, in Daddy Long Legs, 1955.

Trailer

Gigi (1958) -- (Original Trailer) A Parisian girl (Leslie Caron) is raised to be a kept woman but dreams of love and marriage in Gigi (1958), directed by Vincente Minnelli.
Gaby - (Original Trailer) Gaby (1956), Waterloo Bridge in color and widescreen with Leslie Caron as the woman left behind in World War II.
Fanny - (Original Trailer) Charles Boyer and Maurice Chevalier introduce you to Marseilles and the world of Fanny (1961).
Doctor's Dilemma, The - (Original Trailer) A woman tries to convince the medical profession to save her ill husband despite his lack of character in The Doctor's Dilemma (1958), starring Leslie Caron and Dirk Bogarde.
Daddy Long Legs - (Original Trailer) A tycoon (Fred Astaire) anonymously sponsors a college education for a French girl (Leslie Caron) in the musical Daddy Long Legs (1955).
Man with a Cloak, The - (Original Trailer) A mystery man (Joseph Cotten) tries to help a young innocent (Leslie Caron) escape a murderous housekeeper (Barbara Stanwyck).
Lili - (Original Trailer) A French orphan gets a job with a carnival puppet show in Lili (1953), starring Leslie Caron, Mel Ferrer and Zsa Zsa Gabor.
Story Of Three Loves, The - (Original Trailer) A all-star cast on an ocean liner finding and remembering love in The Story Of Three Loves (1953).
American in Paris, An - (Original Trailer) An American artist finds love in Paris in the Oscar®-winning musical romance, An American in Paris starring Gene Kelly.
L-Shaped Room, The - (U.S. Trailer) An unmarried, pregnant French woman (Leslie Caron) takes up residence in a British boarding house in The L-Shaped Room (1962).
Father Goose - (Original Trailer) A WWII drifter (Cary Grant) finds himself protecting schoolgirls and their beautiful teacher (Leslie Caron) in Father Goose (1964).

Family

Claude Caron
Father
Chemist.
Margaret Petit
Mother
Ballerina.
Christopher John Hall
Son
Father,Peter Hall.
Jennifer Caron Hall
Daughter
Actor. Father, Peter Hall.

Companions

George Hormel
Husband
Heir to meat-packing fortune. Married in 1951; divorced in 1954.
Peter Hall
Husband
Married in 1956; divorced in 1965.
Michael Laughlin
Husband
Producer. Married in 1969; divorced in 1980.
Paul Magwood
Husband
Divorced.
Robert Wolders
Companion
Former husband of Merle Oberon; together from 1994; separated in 1995.

Bibliography