Jean-Paul Belmondo (French: [ʒɑ̃pɔl bɛlmɔ̃do]; born 9 April 1933) is a French actor initially associated with the New Wave of the 1960s and one of the biggest French film stars of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. His best known credits include Breathless (1960) and That Man from Rio (1964).
Grand officier de la Légion d'Honneur
Jean-Paul Belmondo in 2013
Jean-Paul Charles Belmondo
9 April 1933
(m. 1952; div. 1968)
(m. 2002; div. 2008)
|Partner(s)||Ursula Andress (1965–1972)|
Laura Antonelli (1972–1980)
Carlos Sotto Mayor (1980–1987)
Barbara Gandolfi (2008-2012)
|Children||4, including Paul Belmondo|
|Awards||César Award for Best Actor|
1989 Itinéraire d'un enfant gâté
Belmondo was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Seine, now Hauts-de-Seine, west of Paris. Belmondo's father, Paul Belmondo, was a Pied-Noir sculptor who was born in Algeria of Italian descent, whose parents were of Sicilian and Piedmontese origin. As a boy he was more interested in sport than school, developing a particular interest in boxing and soccer.
Belmondo made his amateur boxing debut on 10 May 1949 in Paris when he knocked out Rene DesMarais in one round. Belmondo's boxing career was undefeated, but brief. He won three straight first round knockout victories from 1949 to 1950. "I stopped when the face I saw in the mirror began to change," he later said.
Belmondo was interested in acting. His last teenage years were spent at a private drama school, and he began performing comedy sketches in the provinces. He studied under Raymond Giraud and then went to the Conservatoire of Dramatic Arts when he was twenty. He studied there for three years. He would likely have won the prize for best actor but participated in a sketch mocking the school, which offended the jury; this resulted in him only getting an honourable mention, "which nearly set off a riot among his incensed fellow students" in August 1956 according to one report. The incident did make front page news.
Belmondo's acting career properly began in 1953, with two performances at Theatre de'Atelier in Paris, Jean Anouilh's Medee and Georges Neveux's Zamore. Belmondo began touring the provinces with friends including Annie Girardot and Guy Bedos.
Belmondo first appeared in the short Moliere (1956). His first film role was a scene with Jean-Pierre Cassel in On Foot, on Horse, and on Wheels (1957), which was cut from the final film; however he had a bigger part in the follow up A Dog, a Mouse, and a Sputnik (1958).
Belmondo's first lead role was in Les Copains du dimanche (1958).
He had a supporting part in An Angel on Wheels (1959) with Romy Schneider then appeared in Web of Passion (1959) for Claude Chabrol. He played D'Artagnan in The Three Musketeers (1959) for French television.
Around this time he had a notable success on stage in Oscar (1958) in Paris which led to being offered the leads in star parts. The first of these was Consider All Risks (1960), a gangster story with Lino Ventura. The second was in Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (1960), which made him a major figure in the French New Wave.
Breathless was a major success in France and overseas and launched Belmondo as an international name and the face of the New Wave - even though, as he said "I don't know what they mean" when people used that term. In the words of the New York Times it led to his having "more acting assignments than he can handle".
He followed it with Trapped by Fear (1960), then the Italian film Letters By a Novice (1960). With Jeanne Moreau and Peter Brook he made Seven Days... Seven Nights (1961) which he later called "very boring".
He had his first notable on screen comedy role in the anthology movie Love and the Frenchwoman (1960). Then he made two Italian films: supporting Sophia Loren in Two Women (1961), as a bespectacled country boy ("It may disappoint those who've got me typed," said Belmondo. "But so much the better."), then opposite Claudia Cardinale in The Lovemakers (1961).
Later he acted in Jean-Pierre Melville's philosophical movie Léon Morin, Priest (1961), playing a priest. He was a retired gangster in A Man Named Rocca (1962), then had a massive hit with the swashbuckler Cartouche (1962), directed by Philippe de Broca. Also popular was A Monkey in Winter (1962), a comedy where he and Jean Gabin played alcoholics. He had a cameo in the Italian comedy The Shortest Day (1962).
François Truffaut wanted Belmondo to play the lead in an adaptation of Fahrenheit 451. This did not happen (the film was made several years later with Oskar Werner); instead Belmondo made two with Jean-Pierre Melville: the film noir crime film The Fingerman (Le Doulos, 1963) and Magnet of Doom (1963). He co-starred with Gina Lollobrigida in Mad Sea (1963) and appeared in another comedy anthology, Sweet and Sour (1963). There was some controversy when he was arrested for insulting a policeman, when the policeman was charged with assaulting Belmondo.
Banana Peel (1963) was a popular comedy with Jeanne Moreau. Even more successful was the action-adventure tale That Man from Rio (1964), directed by Le Broca - a massive hit in France, and popular overseas as well. A 1965 profile compared him to Humphrey Bogart and James Dean. It stated Belmondo was:
A later manifestation of youthful rejection... His disengagement from a society his parents made is total. He accepts corruption with a cynical smile, not even bothering to struggle. He is out entirely for himself, to get whatever he can, while he can. The Belmondo type is capable of anything. He knows he is defeated anyway... He represents something tough yet vulnerable, laconic but intense, notably lacking in neuroses or the stumbling insecurities of homus Americanus. He is the man of the moment, completely capable of taking care of himself - and ready to take on the girl of the moment too.
Belmondo's own tastes were Tintin comics, sports magazines and detective novels. He said he preferred "making adventure films like Rio to the intellectual movies of Alain Renais or Alain Robbe-Grillet. But with François Truffaut I'd be willing to try." His fee was said to be between US $150,000-$200,000 per film. Belmondo said he was open to making Hollywood films but he wanted to play an American rather than a Frenchman and was interested in Cary Grant type roles instead of James Dean/Bogart ones.
Belmondo made Greed in the Sun (1964) with Lino Ventura for director Henri Verneuil, who said Belmondo was "one of the few young actors in France who is young and manly". Backfire (1964) reunited him with Jean Seberg, his Breathless co-star. After a cameo in Male Hunt (1964) he played the lead in Weekend at Dunkirk (1965), another big hit in France.
Crime on a Summer Morning (1965) was less successful, though it still performed well on the strength of Belmondo's name. Up to His Ears (1965) was an attempt to repeat the popularity of That Man Rio, from the same director, but did less well.
There were Hollywood offers, but Belmondo turned them down. "He won't make films outside of France," said director Mark Robson, who wanted him for Lost Command (1966). "He has scripts stacked up and he doesn't see why he should jeopardize his great success by speaking English instead of French."
Belmondo was reunited with Godard for Pierrot le Fou (1965) then made a comedy, Tender Scoundrel (1966). He had small roles in two predominantly English speaking films, Is Paris Burning? (1966) and Casino Royale (1967).
After making The Thief of Paris (1967) for Louis Malle, Belmondo took a year and a half off. "One day it seemed that life was passing me by," he said. "I didn't want to work. So I stopped. Then one day I felt like starting again. So I started."
Belmondo spent three months of that time off in Hollywood but did not accept any offers. He did not want to learn English and appear in English language films:
Return from sabbatical
Belmondo returned to filmmaking with the crime movie, Ho! (1968), then had a massive hit with a comedy co-starring David Niven, The Brain (1969), the most popular film at the French box office that year. More prestigious was Mississippi Mermaid (1969) for François Truffaut with Catherine Deneuve. Love Is a Funny Thing (1969) was a romantic drama.
Inspired by the success Alain Delon had producing his own films, Belmondo formed his own production company, Cerito Films (named after his grandmother, Rosina Cerrito), to develop movies for Belmondo. The first Cerito film was the black comedy Dr. Popaul (1972), with Mia Farrow, the biggest hit to date for director Claude Chabrol.
He produced as well as starred in Stavisky (1974). Then he made a series of purely commercial films: Incorrigible (1974); Fear Over the City (1975) - one of Belmondo's biggest hits of the decade and the first time he played a policeman on screen; Hunter Will Get You (1976); Body of My Enemy (1977). Animal (1977) cast him as a stuntman opposite Raquel Welch. He was a policeman in Cop or Hood (1979), then made a comedy, Le Guignolo (1980). He was secret service agent in The Professional (1981) and a pilot in Ace of Aces (1982). These films were all very popular at the French box office but damaged Belmondo's critical reputation.
"What intellectuals don't like is success," said Belmondo. "Success in France is always looked down on, not by the public, but by intellectuals. If I'm nude in a film, that's fine for the intellectuals. But if I jump from a helicopter, they think it's terrible."
Belmondo kept to commercial films: Le Marginal (1983), a cop thriller; Les Morfalous (1984), a World War Two French Foreign legion story; Happy Easter, a comedy; Hold-Up (1985), a comic heist story (remade in Hollywood as Quick Change); Le Solitaire (1988), playing another policeman. The last of these was a notable box office disappointment.
Return to theatre
In 1987 he returned to the theatre after a 26 year absence in a production of Kean, adapted by Jean-Paul Sartre from the novel by Alexander Dumas. "I did theater for ten years before going into movies and every year I planned to go back," he recalled. "I returned before I became an old man." Kean was a hit, running for a year. In 1990 he played the title role in Cyrano de Bergerac on the stage in Paris, another highly successful production.
Belmondo claimed there were "several reasons" why he made fewer films in the 1980s. "I'm now a producer so it takes time to organise things," he said. "But it's also difficult to find good screenplays in France. We have serious writing problems here. And I'd prefer to do theater for a long time than take on a mediocre film."
For Claude Lelouch he starred in and co produced Itinerary of a Spoiled Child (1988). He had a small role in One Hundred and One Nights (1995) then the lead in Lelouch's version of Les Misérables (1995). Désiré (1996) was a comedy; Une chance sur deux (1998) reunited him with Alain Delon; Peut-être (1999) was a science fiction comedy.
He suffered a stroke in 2001 and was subsequently absent from the stage and the screen until 2009 when he appeared in A Man and His Dog.
He was made Chevalier (Knight) of the Ordre national du Mérite, promoted Officier (Officer) in 1986 and promoted Commandeur (Commander) in 1994.
He was made Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d'honneur, promoted Officier (Officer) in 1991 and promoted Commandeur (Commander) in 2007.
In 2010 the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards gave him a Career Achievement award. Belmondo attended the ceremony and made appearances in the Los Angeles area.
On December 4, 1952, Belmondo married Élodie Constantin, with whom he had three children: Patricia (1953–1993), who was killed in a fire, Florence (born 1958) and Paul (born 1963). Belmondo and Constantin separated in 1965. She filed for divorce in September 1966, and it was finalized on January 5, 1968.
In 1989, Belmondo was in his mid-50s when he met 24-year-old dancer Natty Tardivel. The couple lived together for over a decade before marrying in 2002. On 13 August 2003, Tardivel gave birth to then 70-year-old Belmondo's fourth child, Stella Eva Angelina. Belmondo and Tardivel divorced in 2008.
In popular culture
Belmondo is saluted in a 1967 episode of the U.S. television sitcom Get Smart. In the episode "The Spirit is Willing" a top agent of the sinister spy agency KAOS is named Paul John Mondebello, an obvious alteration of Belmondo's name. He is also mentioned in a song about "Masculinity" in the play La Cage Aux Folles. A poster of him as "A bad guy, a good-looking bad guy" is in Rachel's apartment in "The Light of Day" by Graham Swift. In 1968 a Yugoslavian quartet "Kvartet 4M" recorded a song "Bebel" about him.
The book "Youth in Revolt" by author C.D. Payne and its sequels refer to Belmondo several times and at one point feature the main character going to Mexico and getting plastic surgery in order to resemble Belmondo.
The Manga "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders" features a main character named Jean-Pierre Polnareff, whose first name is a reference to Belmondo.
The Horror-Platformer series "Castlevania" Prominently features the Belmont family, which could be a reference to Belmondo, given their Japanese last name is also Belmondo.
In the Netflix series, "The Spy," a bartender is convinced to do a Belmondo impersonation, after being bribed by the Israeli undercover spy, Eli Cohen (episode 3, "Alone in Damascus").
|1956||Moliere||Le Merluche||Norbert Tildian||short film|
|1957||On Foot, on Horse, and on Wheels (À pied, à cheval et en voiture)||Venin||Maurice Delbez||A vehicle for Noël Noël; Belmondo's role cut from film|
|1958||Be Beautiful But Shut Up (Sois belle et tais-toi)||Pierrot||Marc Allégret||With Mylène Demongeot, Henri Vidal and Alain Delon|
|Young Sinners (Les tricheurs)||Lou||Marcel Carné||With Pascale Petit|
|Sunday Encounter (Un drôle de dimanche)||Patrick||Marc Allegret||With Danielle Darrieux, Arletty and Bourvil|
|Les copains du dimanche||Trebois||Film shot to promote trade union movement|
|1959||Charlotte and Her Boyfriend (Charlotte et son Jules)||Jean||Jean-Luc Godard||Short film|
|An Angel on Wheels (Mademoiselle Ange)||Michel Barrot||Géza von Radványi||With Romy Schneider and Henri Vidal|
|The Three Musketeers (Les Trois Mousquetaires)||D'Artagnan||Claude Barma||For French TV|
|Web of Passion (À double tour, Leda)||Laszlo Kovacs||Claude Chabrol||With Madeleine Robinson|
|1960||Breathless (À bout de souffle)||Michel Poiccard||Jean-Luc Godard||With Jean Seberg; from a story by François Truffaut|
|The Big Risk (Classe Tous Risques)||Eric Stark||Claude Sautet||With Lino Ventura|
|Seven Days... Seven Nights (Moderato cantabile)||Chauvin||Peter Brook||With Jeanne Moreau|
|Trapped by Fear (Les distractions)||Paul Frapier||Jacques Dupont||With Alexandra Stewart and Sylva Koscina|
|Love and the Frenchwoman (La française et l'amour)||Anthology film|
|Letters By a Novice (Lettere di una novizia)||Giuliano Verdi||Alberto Lattuada||Italian film with Pascale Petit|
|Two Women (La Ciociara)||Michele de Libero||Vittorio De Sica||Italian film with Sophia Loren|
|1961||The Lovemakers (La viaccia)||Amerigo||Mauro Bolognini||Italian film with Claudia Cardinale|
|Léon Morin, Priest (Léon Morin, prêtre)||Léon Morin||Jean-Pierre Melville||With Emmanuelle Riva|
|A Woman Is a Woman (Une femme est une femme)||Alfred Lubitsch||Jean-Luc Godard||With Anna Karina and Jean-Claude Brialy|
|Famous Love Affairs (Amours célèbres)||Lauzon||Michel Boisrond||Anthology film|
|A Man Named Rocca (Un nommé La Rocca)||Roberto La Rocca||Jean Becker||1972 remade by Belmondo as La Scoumoune|
|1962||The Finger Man (Le Doulos)||Silien||Jean-Pierre Melville|
|Swords of Blood (Cartouche)||Louis Dominique Bourguignon||Philippe de Broca||With Claudia Cardinale|
|A Monkey in Winter (Un singe en hiver)||Gabriel Fouquet||Henri Verneuil||With Jean Gabin|
|Un cœur gros comme ça (documentary "The Winner")||as himself||François Reichenbach|
|1963||Crazy Sea (Mare matto)||Il Livornese||Renato Castellani||Italian film with Gina Lollobrigida|
|Banana Peel (Peau de banane)||Michel Thibault||Marcel Ophüls||With Jeanne Moreau|
|Sweet and Sour (Dragées au poivre)||Raymond||Jacques Baratier|
|Magnet of Doom (L'Aîné des Ferchaux)||Michel Maudet||Jean-Pierre Melville||Set in the USA; based on a novel by Georges Simenon|
|The Shortest Day (Il giorno più corto)||Erede Siciliano||Sergio Corbucci||Unbilled cameo|
|1964||That Man from Rio (L'Homme de Rio)||Adrien Dufourquet||Philippe de Broca||With Françoise Dorléac|
|Greed in the Sun (Cent mille dollars au soleil)||Rocco||Henri Verneuil||With Lino Ventura|
|Backfire (Échappement libre)||David Ladislas||Jean Becker||Second film with Jean Seberg|
|Weekend at Dunkirk (Week-end à Zuydcoote)||Julien Maillat||Henri Verneuil||With Catherine Spaak|
|Male Hunt (La Chasse à l'homme)||Fernand||Édouard Molinaro||With Jean-Claude Brialy, Françoise Dorléac, Catherine Deneuve|
|1965||Crime on a Summer Morning (Par un beau matin d'été)||Francis||Jacques Deray||With Geraldine Chaplin|
|Pierrot le Fou||Pierrot (Ferdinand Griffon)||Jean-Luc Godard||With Anna Karina|
|Up to His Ears (Les Tribulations d'un Chinois en Chine)||Arthur Lempereur||Philippe de Broca||With Ursula Andress|
|1966||Tender Scoundrel (Tendre Voyou)||Antoine Maréchal||Jean Becker||With Geneviève Page, Stefania Sandrelli, Mylène Demongeot, Nadja Tiller and Robert Morley|
|Is Paris Burning? (Paris brûle-t-il?)||Yvon Morandat||René Clément||Hollywood financed film|
|1967||Casino Royale||French Legionnaire||Ken Hughes, John Huston and others||cameo role|
|The Thief of Paris (Le Voleur)||Georges Randal||Louis Malle||With Geneviève Bujold|
|1968||Ho!||François Holin||Robert Enrico||Based on a novel by José Giovanni|
|1969||The Brain (Le Cerveau)||Arthur Lespinasse||Gérard Oury||With David Niven, Eli Wallach and Bourvil; most popular movie of the year in France|
|Mississippi Mermaid (La Sirène du Mississippi)||Louis Mahé||François Truffaut||With Catherine Deneuve|
|Love Is a Funny Thing (Un homme qui me plaît)||Henri||Claude Lelouch||Filmed in the USA; with Annie Girardot|
|1970||Borsalino||François Capella||Jacques Deray||With Alain Delon|
|1971||The Married Couple of the Year Two (Les Mariés de l'an II)||Nicolas Philibert||Jean-Paul Rappeneau||With Marlène Jobert|
|The Burglars (The Burglars)||Azad||Henri Verneuil||With Omar Sharif, Dyan Cannon|
|1972||Scoundrel in White (Dr Popaul)||Doctor Paul Simay||Claude Chabrol||With Mia Farrow; also producer|
|Scoumoune (La Scoumoune)||Roberto Borgo||José Giovanni||With Clauda Cardinale|
|1973||The Inheritor (L'Héritier)||Bart Cordell||Philippe Labro|
|The Man from Acapulco (Le Magnifique)||François Merlin / Bob Saint-Clar||Philippe de Broca||With Jacqueline Bisset; also producer|
|1974||Stavisky||Alexandre Stavisky||Alain Resnais||With Charles Boyer; also producer|
|1975||Incorrigible (L'Incorrigible)||Victor Vauthier||Philippe de Broca||With Geneviève Bujold; also producer|
|The Night Caller (Peur sur la ville)||Jean Letellier||Henri Verneuil||First time Belmondo played a policeman; also producer|
|1976||The Hunter Will Get You (L'Alpagueur)||Roger Pilard ("L'Alpagueur")||Philippe Labro||Also producer|
|Body of My Enemy (Le Corps de mon ennemi)||François Leclercq||Henri Verneuil||Also producer|
|1977||Animal (L'Animal)||Mike Gaucher / Bruno Ferrari||Claude Zidi||With Raquel Welch; also producer|
|1979||Cop or Hood (Flic ou voyou)||Antonio Cerutti / Stanislas Borowitz||Georges Lautner||Also producer|
|1980||Le Guignolo||Alexandre Dupré||Georges Lautner||Also producer|
|1981||The Professional (Le Professionnel)||Josselin Beaumont, a.k.a. "Joss"||Georges Lautner||Also producer|
|1982||Ace of Aces (L'As des as)||Jo Cavalier||Gérard Oury||Also producer|
|1983||Le Marginal||Philippe Jordan||Jacques Deray||With Henry Silva; also producer|
|1984||The Vultures (Les Morfalous)||Pierre Augagneur||Henri Verneuil||Also producer|
|Happy Easter (Joyeuses Pâques)||Stéphane Margelle||Georges Lautner||With Sophie Marceau; also producer|
|Hold-up||Grimm||Alexandre Arcady||Filmed in Canada; with Kim Cattrall. |
Also producer; remade as Quick Change
|1987||The Loner (Le Solitaire)||Stan Jalard||Jacques Deray||Also producer|
|1988||Itinéraire d'un enfant gâté||Sam Lion||Claude Lelouch||Also producer|
|Kean||Kean||Pierre Badel||Film of Jean-Paul Sartre play which Belmondo performed on stage|
|1990||Cyrano de Bergerac||Cyrano de Bergerac||Robert Hossein||Film of play which Belmondo performed on stage|
|Tom and Lola||Producer only|
|1992||Stranger in the House (L'inconnu dans la maison)||Georges Lautner||Also producer|
|1993||Tailleur pour dames||Bernard Murat||TV movie|
|Le nombril du monde||Producer only|
|1995||A Hundred and One Nights (Les Cent et Une Nuits de Simon Cinéma)||Professeur Bébel||Agnès Varda|
|Les Misérables||Henri Fortin / Jean Valjean||Claude Lelouch|
|1996||Désiré||Désiré||Bernard Murat||also producer|
|1997||La puce à l'oreille||Yves Di Tullio||Based on play by Georges Feydeau|
|1998||Half a Chance (Une chance sur deux)||Léo Brassac||Patrice Leconte||With Alain Delon|
|1999||Peut-être||Ako||Cédric Klapisch||with Romain Duris|
|Frédérick ou le Boulevard du Crime||Bernard Murat||Recording of play by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt starring Belmondo|
|2000||The Actors (Les Acteurs)||Himself||Bertrand Blier||documentary|
|Amazon||Edouard||Philippe de Broca|
|Toreros||Eric Barbier||Producer only|
|2001||Ferchaux||Paul Ferchaux||TV movie from novel by Georges Simenon|
|2009||A Man and His Dog ("Un homme et son chien")||Charles||Francis Huster|
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- "1964 French box office". Box Office Story. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
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- "Dr Popaul box office information". Box Office story. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
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- "Décret du 14 mai 1994 portant promotion et nomination". JORF. 1994 (112): 7102. 15 May 1994. PREX9410898D. Retrieved 14 March 2009.
- "Décret du 6 avril 2007 portant promotion". JORF. 2007 (84): 6582. 8 April 2007. PREX0710141D. Retrieved 14 March 2009.
- Thomas Riggs (2000). Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television, Volume 31. Gale / Cengage Learning. p. 25. ISBN 0787646369.
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- Earl Wilson (16 July 1972). It Happened Last Night. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
- Mort de Laura Antonelli, star italienne des années 1970 et ex-femme de Jean-Paul Belmondo AlloCiné; 22 June 2015.
- "Carlos Sotto Mayor : L'ex de Bébel revient en bombe atomique... avec un prince !". Purepeople.com.
- "Jean-Paul Belmondo escroqué : Son ex Barbara Gandolfi jugée". Purepeople.com.
- "The Complete Get Smart Guide - Episode Guides: Third Season". Web.archive.org. 12 March 2000.
- ""4m"* - Hvala (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
- Mellow Yellow/Sunny South Kensington 45 rpm single, Mellow Yellow LP album, side 2, track 5
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