Alain Delon


Actor
Alain Delon

About

Birth Place
France
Born
November 08, 1935

Biography

One of the great cinematic anti-heroes of the 1960s and 1970s, French actor Alain Delon brought a sense of daring and insouciant charm to his portrayals of gangsters, hired guns and men of mystery in such international hits as "Purple Noon" (1961), "Le Samourai" (1967), "The Sicilian Clan" (1969) and "Monsieur Klein" (1976). That he appeared, at least in part, to live an outlaw life off ...

Family & Companions

Nathalie Delon
Wife
Actor, director. Married 1964; divorced 1969; Nathalie Delon was her professional name.
Rosalie Van Breeman
Companion
Former model.

Notes

Delon was named a Chevalier, Legion d'Honneur, Commander des Arts et des Lettres.

Biography

One of the great cinematic anti-heroes of the 1960s and 1970s, French actor Alain Delon brought a sense of daring and insouciant charm to his portrayals of gangsters, hired guns and men of mystery in such international hits as "Purple Noon" (1961), "Le Samourai" (1967), "The Sicilian Clan" (1969) and "Monsieur Klein" (1976). That he appeared, at least in part, to live an outlaw life off the screen as well, with multiple high-profile affairs and alleged connections to organized crime, only furthered his appeal to moviegoers on both sides of the Atlantic, who were drawn to his icy, implacable calm and Gallic bravado. On occasion, he ventured to Hollywood, but the results were frequently subpar; viewers were not interested in seeing Delon play for laughs opposite Dean Martin in "Texas Across the River" (1964) or as a cardboard hero in "Concorde. Airport '79" (1979). He was best served in his native country, where he dominated the box office well into the 1980s before pulling in the reins to focus on marketing his name through a variety of products. On occasion, the lure of the silver screen proved too strong to resist, and he would return to acting on several occasions during the '90s and early 2000s. Though his famous mane of hair was silvered and the smoothness of his face marked by time, Delon's extraordinary magnetism remained untouched by the decades - irrefutable proof of his status as one of France's most enduring leading men.

Born Alain Fabien Maurice Marcel Delon on Nov. 8, 1935 in the town of Sceaux, outside of Paris, France, he was the son of Fabien Delon, and his wife, Edith. His parents divorced when Delon was four, and subsequently remarried. The turmoil in his home was reflected in his schooling. An unruly student, Delon was expelled from six schools by the time he was a teenager. He eventually left school altogether at age 14 to work at his stepfather's butcher shop before enlisting in the French Navy, where he served in the First Indochina War. Again, his rebellious nature got the better of him, and he spent 11 months of his four-year stint in a military prison for lack of discipline. Delon was dishonorably discharged in 1956 and returned to France to work a series of menial jobs. While in Marseilles, he became friendly with actor Jean-Claude Brialy, who invited Delon to join him at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival. There, his striking good looks attracted the attention of numerous producers and talent scouts, among them allegedly a representative of "Gone with the Wind" (1939) producer David O. Selznick, who offered a multi-picture deal, provided that he learn English. Delon returned to Paris, where he met director Yves Allégret, who gave him his first screen role in "Quand la femme s'en mêle" ("When the Woman Butts In") (1957) as a young hit man hired to kill the rival of a club owner (Jean Servais), a felicitous bit of casting that would echo throughout Delon's career. Delon earned his first leading role in "Christine" (1958), as a young soldier who fell in love with an innocent (Romy Schneider) while involved in a scandalous affair with the wife of a commanding officer. Delon and Schneider became an off-screen couple as well, going on to announce their engagement in 1959.

The following year, Delon earned his star-making role as Patricia Highsmith's murderous anti-hero, Tom Ripley, in René Clément's "Purple Noon" (1960). His cool performance as an amoral young man who murdered and assumed his friend's identity to advance his social standing won favor from critics as well as Highsmith herself, and soon established Delon as a major European star. A richer, more sensitive turn as a young Italian in love with a prostitute (Annie Giradot) in Luchino Visconti's "Rocco and His Brothers" (1961) followed, as did his stage debut that same year opposite Schneider in a production of "Tis Pity She's a Whore," directed by Visconti. Delon was soon the leading man of choice for many of Europe's most acclaimed directors, including Michaelangelo Antonioni for "Eclipse" (1962), Julien Duvivier for "The Devil and the Ten Commandments" (1963), and Henri Verneuil, who cast him as a reckless criminal opposite French screen legend Jean Gabin in "Any Number Can Win" (1963). Delon also garnered a reputation as a rogue off-screen as well when Schneider called off their engagement in 1963 upon discovering that he had fathered a son, Christian, with the German singer-actress Nico. The following year, he married actress Nathalie Barthélemy, with whom he had a son, actor Anthony Delon.

A 1963 Golden Globe nomination for his turn as the headstrong nephew of Italian prince Burt Lancaster in Visconti's celebrated "The Leopard" increased Delon's international visibility, leading to offers from Hollywood. Save for the gritty neo-noir "Once a Thief" (1965), with Delon as a reformed criminal dogged by the law (Van Heflin) and the mob (Jack Palance), his Hollywood efforts were largely glossy, empty affairs like the all-star "Yellow Rolls-Royce" (1965) and the truly dreadful Western comedy "Texas Across the River" (1966) with Dean Martin and Joey Bishop. He returned to France the following year to appear in his iconic role as an icy, meticulous hit man in Jean-Pierre Melville's New Wave cult favorite "Le Samourai" ("The Samurai") (1967). His carefully controlled performance as a moody loner who lived and died by a strict code of personal conduct would come to dominate his screen persona, and Delon would play variations on the role in subsequent films like "Le Motocyclette" ("Girl on a Motorcycle") (1968), which increased his standing among both French and international audiences. His marriage to Barthélemy ended during this period, due to his affair with actress Mireille Darc.

Delon's ascent to fame was severely threatened by a 1969 scandal involving the murder of his former bodyguard, Stefan Markovic. Investigations into the killing unearthed links between the actor and numerous members of the European underworld, as well as scandalous connections to political figures like the wife of French Prime Minister Georges Pompidou. Delon was repeatedly held for questioning in regard to the case, but was eventually acquitted. However, many industry figures believed that his association with Markovic would ruin his career. To the surprise of many, Delon became even more popular with French moviegoers, who felt that his connections to criminal elements lent a note of veritas to his numerous gangster roles. He quickly capitalized on the notoriety by starring in a string of popular crime films, including "The Sicilian Clan" (1969) and Jacques Deray's "Borsolino" (1970), which teamed him with enduring French movie idol Jean-Paul Belmondo. Delon also produced many of these films through his company, Delbeau Productions, and even enjoyed a continental pop hit with a 1973 duet with Dalida of the ballad "Paroles, paroles."

Delon again attempted to break into the American market with Michael Winner's political thriller "Scorpio" (1973), which reunited him with Burt Lancaster. But he was soon back in France, where he ruled the box office through crime pictures like "Two Men in Town" (1973) with Gabin, and "Flic Story" (1975), based on French police detective Roger Borniche's nine-year pursuit of escaped killer Emile Buisson (Jean-Louis Trintignant). He stepped briefly away from police procedurals to play the masked hero "Zorro" (1975), a choice made largely to please his young son. The following year, he received a Cesar nomination for Best Actor as "Monsieur Klein" (1976), a French art dealer who is mistaken by the Nazis for a wanted Jewish fugitive. A second Cesar acting nod came the following year for the police drama "Mort d'un pourri" ("Death of a Corrupt Man") (1977). This again led him back to the United States to play an airline captain in "Concorde. Airport '79," but its abysmal failure nixed any further ventures to Hollywood.

In 1981, Delon made his directorial debut with "Pour la peau d'un flic" (1981), a modest crime picture that he fashioned as a tribute to Jean-Pierre Melville. He would direct two additional, entirely minor thrillers before balancing his time between producing and occasional acting appearances. By the 1980s, his famously aquiline features had grown craggy, and he was no longer the actor of choice for romantic leading men, though his personal appeal remained untouched, as evidenced by his 1987 romance with the much-younger model Rosalie van Breemen. Delon gave a critically acclaimed turn as a haughty but miserable royal in Volker Schlondorff's "Swann in Love" (1982) and finally earned a Cesar for "Notre Histoire" ("Our History") (1984), starring as a dissolute middle-aged man who became fixated on a disinterested prostitute and single mother (Nathalie Baye). These triumphs were compounded by the blockbuster hit "Parole de flic" (1985), an action-packed crime picture that featured the 50-year-old Delon performing his own stunts.

But advancing age, as well as the expensive failure of "The Passage" in 1986, forced Delon to consider his future projects with greater care. He directed his focus toward a popular line of products that bore his name - from perfume and cigarettes to sunglasses - that became the epitome of cinematic cool after Chow Yun-fat wore a pair in John Woo's epic crime drama "A Better Tomorrow" (1986). There were still film projects, most notably Jean-Luc Godard's "Nouvelle Vague" ("New Wave") (1990) with Delon as a hitchhiker taken in by Domiziana Giordano's mystery woman. The thriller "L'ours en peluche" ("Teddy Bear") (1994), with Delon stalked by an anonymous caller, was a return to form, but he announced his retirement from acting after Patrice LeCompte's "Un chance sur deux" (1998), an action film that reunited him with Belmondo, fizzled at the box office. He did return sporadically over the next decade, most notably as a vain Julius Caesar in the smash European hit "Asterix at the Olympic Games" (2008). Between 1991 and 1995, he also reaped numerous honors for his lifetime of film work, including an Honorary Golden Bear in 1991 from the 45th Berlin International Film Festival, as well knighthood from the Legion of Honor that same year. In 1995, he was made an Officer of the National Order of Merit, while in 2005, his knighthood was promoted to the next highest class, that of Officer.

By Paul Gaita

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Le Battant (1983)
Director
Pour la peau d'un flic (1981)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Death Instinct (2009)
Asterix at the Olympic Games (2008)
Les Acteurs (2000)
Himself
Une Chance sur Deux (1998)
Le Jour et la nuit (1997)
Alexandre
One Hundred and One Nights (1995)
The Teddy Bear (1994)
Un Crime (1993)
Le Retour de Casanova (1992)
Dancing Machine (1990)
Alan Wolf
Nouvelle Vague (1990)
Ne reveillez pas un flic qui dort (1988)
Grindel
Le Passage (1986)
Jean Diaz
Parole de Flic (1985)
Swann in Love (1984)
Notre Histoire (1984)
Robert Avranche
Le Battant (1983)
Jacques Darnay
Le Choc (1982)
Martin Terrier
Teheran '43 (1981)
Pour la peau d'un flic (1981)
Choucas
Trois Hommes a Abattre (1980)
Michel Gerfaut
The Concorde--Airport '79 (1979)
Harmonie (1979)
Le Toubib (1979)
Le Toubib (1979)
Attention, The Kids Are Watching (1978)
Man
Mort d'un pourri (1977)
L' Homme presse (1977)
Pierre
Armaguedon (1977)
Ambrose
Le Gang (1977)
Robert Lurcat--
Comme Un Boomerang (1976)
Jacques
Mr. Klein (1976)
Zorro (1975)
Zorro
Flic Story (1975)
Borniche
Le Gitan (1975)
La Gifle (1974)
Borsalino and Co. (1974)
Roch
Les Seins de Glace (1974)
Lawyer
Creezy (1974)
Deux hommes dans la ville (1973)
Gino
Big Guns (1973)
Tony
Race des "Seigneurs," La (1973)
Julien
Les Granges Brulees (1973)
Scorpio (1973)
La Prima Notte di Quiete (1972)
Un flic (1972)
Coleman
The Assassination Of Trotsky (1972)
Jacson
Traitement de choc (1972)
Devilers
Fantasia Chez Les Ploucs (1971)
Il Etait une fois un flic (1971)
La Veuve Couderc (1971)
Jean
Doucement Les Basses! (1971)
Simon
Red Sun (1971)
The Swimming Pool (1970)
Jean-Paul
Borsalino (1970)
Siffredi
The Sicilian Clan (1970)
Roger Sartet
Le Cercle Rouge (1970)
The Last Adventure (1968)
Manu
The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968)
Daniel
Le Samourai (1967)
Jef Costello
Is Paris Burning? (1966)
Jacques Chaban-Delmas
Lost Command (1966)
Captain Esclavier
Texas Across the River (1966)
Don Andrea Baldasar
Once a Thief (1965)
Eddie Pedak
The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1965)
Stefano
Joy House (1964)
Marc
Any Number Can Win (1963)
Francis
The Leopard (1963)
Tancredi
The Devil and the Ten Commandments (1963)
Pierre Messager
The Black Tulip (1963)
Julien/Guillaume
Have I The Right To Kill (1963)
Eclipse (1962)
Piero
Purple Noon (1961)
Tom Ripley
Rocco and His Brothers (1961)
Rocco Parondi
The Joy of Living (1961)
Faibles Femmes (1959)
Julien
Sois belle et tais-toi (1958)
When the Woman Butts In (1957)

Writer (Feature Film)

Ne reveillez pas un flic qui dort (1988)
Screenwriter
Parole de Flic (1985)
Screenplay
Le Battant (1983)
Screenwriter
Le Choc (1982)
Screenwriter
Pour la peau d'un flic (1981)
Screenwriter
Mort d'un pourri (1977)
Screenplay
Comme Un Boomerang (1976)
Screenwriter

Producer (Feature Film)

Le Retour de Casanova (1992)
Executive Producer
Dancing Machine (1990)
Executive Producer
Ne reveillez pas un flic qui dort (1988)
Producer
Le Passage (1986)
Producer
Parole de Flic (1985)
Executive Producer
Le Battant (1983)
Producer
Pour la peau d'un flic (1981)
Producer
Trois Hommes a Abattre (1980)
Producer
Le Gang (1977)
Executive Producer
Comme Un Boomerang (1976)
Producer
Mr. Klein (1976)
Producer
Borsalino and Co. (1974)
Producer
La Prima Notte di Quiete (1972)
Producer
Borsalino (1970)
Producer

Music (Feature Film)

Same Old Song (1998)
Song Performer
Parole de Flic (1985)
Theme Song Performer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Les Acteurs (2000)
Other

Cast (Short)

The Car That Became a Star (1964)
Himself
Filmmaking on the Riviera (1964)
Himself

Life Events

1953

Enlisted in the French Marines at age 17 (date approximate)

1953

Served in Indochina in the French Marine Corps; was a parachutist during the siege at Dienbienphu

1957

Screen acting debut in "Quand la femme s'en mele", directed by Allegret

1964

Formed Delbeau Productions (which only oversaw two films), had producer credits on "L'Insoumis" and "Journal d'un combat"

1964

English language debut in the British comedy, "The Yellow Rolls-Royce"

1965

First of several US films, "Once a Thief"

1967

Acted onstage in "Les yeux creves"

1967

Acted in the first of three important films with director-screenwriter Jean-Pierre Melville, "Le samourai/The Samurai"

1968

Formed Adel Productions, which produced most of Delon's starring vehicles for the next twenty years, as well as other films not featuring Delon (or with him in a guest appearances or cameo)

1968

Delon and his wife Natalie centrally involved in a sex, drug and murder scandal with which a number of celebrities and prominent politicians were connected; the body of Delon's bodyguard was found in a garbage dump; Delon was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, though the incident did highlight underworld connections of long standing to which he admitted

1969

First of many collaborations with director Jacques Deray, "La piscine/The Swimming Pool"

1973

Rare return to US-produced film, "Scorpio"

1977

First work with screenwriter Christopher Frank, "L'homme presse/Man in a Hurry", in which Delon starred

1979

Last US credit to date, "The Concorde--Airport '79"

1981

Directed first film, "Pour la peau d'un flic/For a Cop's Hide", in which he starred and for which he also co-wrote the screenplay with Christopher Frank

1982

Directed a second feature film, "La Battant/The Cache", in which he also starred and for which he co-wrote the screenplay with Christopher Frank

1984

Accused the Cannes Film Festival and French culture minister Jack Lang of using political manipulation to keep Bertrand Blier's film, "Notre Histoire/Our Story", which Delon starred in and co-produced, out of the festival

1986

Last film by Adel Productions, "La Passage/The Passage"

1987

Formed new production company, Leda Productions

Photo Collections

Spirits of the Dead - Pressbook
Here is the original campaign book (pressbook) for AIP's anthology horror film Spirits of the Dead (1968), starring Jane and Peter Fonda. Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.

Videos

Movie Clip

L'Eclisse (The Eclipse) (1962) - I Made A Million Advancing no particular story line, Vittoria (Monica Vitti) visits the Rome stock exchange, where she flags down her mother (Lilla Brignone) and incidentally meets her broker Piero (Alain Delon), in third film Michelangelo Antonioni's trilogy of the period, L'Eclisse, 1962.
L'Eclisse (The Eclipse) (1962) - This Is What Mama's Afraid Of Having retreated to the apartment of her mother (Lilla Brignone) from the Rome stock exchange, this is the first full encounter between newly unattached Vittoria (Monica Vitti) and Piero (Alain Delon), her mother's broker, in Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Eclisse, 1962.
Once A Thief (1965) - He's Going Back First scene for Van Heflin as San Francisco police inspector Vido and his partner (Steve Mitchell), at the scene of a murder and holdup (conducted by, we’ll soon learn, Alain Delon), revealing some history and tangling with his boss (Jeff Corey), in director Ralph Nelson’s Once A Thief, 1965.
Once A Thief (1965) - Can I Sit In The Rumble Seat? First scene in which we can identify Alain Delon as Eddie, pretty-well confirming he committed a holdup and murder, followed by the cops, collecting his daughter (Tammy Locke) and wife Ann-Margret, who relates a memory that sure seems to refer to her own Swedish father, early in Once A Thief, 1965.
Once A Thief (1965) - I Don't Need You San Francisco ex-con Eddie (Alain Delon), who we know is committing armed robberies on his own, nonetheless pushes back when his gangster brother Walter (Jack Palance), with his hoodlum sidekick (John Davis Chandler), offers him a job, pleasing Eddie’s wife (Ann-Margret), in Once A Thief, 1965.
Rocco And His Brothers (1960) - Teeth Like A Wolf Weeks into their impoverished residence in Milan, southern Italian Rocco (Alain Delon) watches as his brother Simone (Renato Salvatori) gets some attention from a boxing promoter (Paolo Stoppa), about whom they perhaps should be suspicious, in Luchino Visconti's Rocco And His Brothers, 1960.
Rocco And His Brothers (1960) - There's Work For Everybody! Arriving in Milan from Lucania in the south, widow Signora Parondi (Katina Paxinou) leads her brood (Spiros Focas, Max Cartier, Renato Salvatori, young Rocco Vidolazzi, and Alain Delon as "Rocco"), who see snow for the first time, in Luchino Visconti's Rocco And His Brothers, 1960.
Rocco And His Brothers (1960) - It's Like Daylight Director Luchino Visconti's family Parondi arrives from "Lucania" in the south, at Milan, Katina Paxinou the widowed mother, Renato Salvatori as Simone, Alain Delon as Rocco, Max Cartier as Ciro, Rocco Vidolazzi as young Luca, camera by Giuseppe Rotunno, opening Rocco And His Brothers, 1960.
Rocco And His Brothers (1960) - Northern Skin Simone, Rocco, Ciro and Luca (Renato Salvatori, Alain Delon, Max Cartier, Rocco Vidolazzi) haven't realized that Nadia (Annie Girardot), given shelter by Vincenzo (Spiros Focas) is likely a working girl, their mom (Katina Paxinou) more savvy, in Luchino Visconti's Rocco And His Brothers, 1960.
Purple Noon (1961) - I Don't Care For Your Pal Easy to forget they're playing Americans, in Rome, Tom (Alain Delon) has been paid by the father of Philippe (Maurice Ronet) to bring him home, friend Freddy (Billy Kearns) having none of it, opening Rene Clement's treatment of the first Patricia Highsmith "Ripley" novel, Purple Noon, 1961.
Purple Noon (1961) - Low Class Ambition With girlfriend Marge (Marie Laforet), Philippe (Maurice Ronet), whose father is paying Tom (Alain Delon) to bring him home to the states, launches on a yacht trip from Rome to Sicily, tensions emerging, in Rene Clement's Purple Noon, 1961, from a Patricia Highsmith novel.
Un Flic (1972) - While The City Slept Stormy shooting right where the movie purports to happen, Saint-Jean-de-Monts on the French Atlantic coast near Nantes, Jean-Pierre Melville opens his last film, Richard Crenna leading the robbers, Alain Delon the cop back in Paris, in Un Flic, 1972.

Trailer

Family

Fabien Delon
Father
Edith Delone
Mother
Anthony Delon
Son
Actor.
Anouchka Delon
Daughter
Alain-Fabien Delon
Son
Born in 1994; mother Rosalie Van Breeman.

Companions

Nathalie Delon
Wife
Actor, director. Married 1964; divorced 1969; Nathalie Delon was her professional name.
Rosalie Van Breeman
Companion
Former model.

Bibliography

Notes

Delon was named a Chevalier, Legion d'Honneur, Commander des Arts et des Lettres.