Jeanne Moreau starred in such films as The Lovers, Jules et Jim and The Bride Wore Black, has died at the age of 89. The French president’s office announced her death without providing a cause. Dubbed “Le Moreau” for her slithering sensuality, she was a femme fatale who was also one of the top stage actresses of her time. Offscreen, Moreau oozed romance and mystery: She was likened to the free-spirited woman with two lovers whom she played in Francois Truffaut’s Jules et Jim.
She starred in Louis Malle’s The Lovers (Les Amants) in 1958. The story of a woman who deserts her husband for a younger man, the film was controversial for the times and banned in some U.S. cities. Flaming her notorious image, Moreau next played in Roger Vadim’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses, which was also censored in several towns in France. It was briefly banned from export not for its sexuality, but for its unflattering depiction of French diplomats.
Moreau was one of the most sought-after actresses in the world and performed in an array of films with leading directors, including Jules et Jim (Truffaut), The Trial (Orson Welles), Eva (Joseph Losey), Peau de Banane (Marcel Ophuls), Renoir, La Notte (Michelangelo Antonioni), La Baie des Anges (Jacques Demy), Moderato Cantabile (Brook), Diary of a Chambermaid (Luis Bunuel), The Sailor From Gibraltar (Tony Richardson), Querelle (Rainer Werner Fassbinder).
She won the best actress award at Cannes in 1960 for her starring role in Peter Brook’s Moderato Cantabile. More recently, she played in Map of the Human Heart (1992) and The Proprietor (1997).
1953, she appeared in The Shining Hour at the Theatre Antoine and also played in Jean Cocteau’s The Internal Machine and Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. In 1957, she played Maggy in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Peter Brook.
She was married to William Friedkin from 1977 to 1979 and previously to Jean-Louis Richard.