Leslie Caron

Leslie Claire Margaret Caron (French: [lɛsli kaʁɔ̃]; born 1 July 1931) is a French-American actress and dancer who appeared in 45 films between 1951 and 2003. Her autobiography, Thank Heaven, was published in 2010 in the UK and US, and in 2011 in a French version. Veteran documentarian Larry Weinstein's Leslie Caron: The Reluctant Star premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on 28 June 2016.[1]

Leslie Caron
Leslie Claire Margaret Caron

(1931-07-01) July 1, 1931
OccupationActress, dancer
Years active1951–present
Geordie Hormel
(m. 1951; div. 1954)

Peter Hall
(m. 1956; div. 1965)

Michael Laughlin
(m. 1969; div. 1980)
ChildrenChristopher John Hall
Jennifer Caron Hall

Caron is best known for the musical films An American in Paris (1951), Lili (1953), Daddy Long Legs (1955), and Gigi (1958), and for the nonmusical films Fanny (1961), The L-Shaped Room (1962), and Father Goose (1964). She received two Academy Award nominations for Best Actress. In 2006, her performance in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit won her an Emmy for guest actress in a drama series. She is fluent in French, English, and Italian. She is one of the few dancers or actresses who have danced with Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Rudolf Nureyev.

Early years

Caron was born in Boulogne-sur-Seine, Seine (now Boulogne-Billancourt, Hauts-de-Seine), the daughter of Margaret (née Petit), a Franco-American dancer on Broadway, and Claude Caron, a French chemist, pharmacist, perfumer, and boutique owner.[2] While her older brother Aimery Caron became a chemist like their father, Leslie was prepared for a performing career from childhood by her mother.[3]


Caron started her career as a ballerina. Gene Kelly discovered her in the Roland Petit company "Ballet des Champs Elysées" and cast her to appear opposite him in the musical An American in Paris (1951), a role in which a pregnant Cyd Charisse was originally cast. This role led to a long-term MGM contract and a sequence of films which included the musical The Glass Slipper (1955) and the drama The Man with a Cloak (1951), with Joseph Cotten and Barbara Stanwyck. Still, Caron has said of herself: "Unfortunately, Hollywood considers musical dancers as hoofers. Regrettable expression."[4]

She also starred in the successful musicals Lili (1953), with Mel Ferrer; Daddy Long Legs (1955), with Fred Astaire, and Gigi (1958) with Louis Jourdan and Maurice Chevalier.

In 1953, Caron was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her starring role in Lili. For her performance in the British drama The L-Shaped Room (1962), she won the BAFTA Award for Best British Actress and Golden Globe awards, and was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar.[5]

In the 1960s and thereafter, Caron worked in European films, as well. Her later film assignments included Father Goose (1964), with Cary Grant; Ken Russell's Valentino (1977), in the role of silent-screen legend Alla Nazimova; and Louis Malle's Damage (1992). Sometime in 1970, Caron was one of the many actresses considered for the lead role of Eglantine Price in Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks, losing the role to British actress Angela Lansbury.

In 1967, she was a member of the jury of the 5th Moscow International Film Festival.[6] In 1989, she was a member of the jury at the 39th Berlin International Film Festival.[7]

Caron has continued to act, appearing in the film Chocolat (2000). During the 1980s, she appeared in several episodes of the soap opera Falcon Crest as Nicole Sauguet. She is one of the few actresses from the classic era of MGM musicals who are still active in film—a group that includes Rita Moreno, Margaret O'Brien, and June Lockhart. Her other later credits include Funny Bones (1995) with Jerry Lewis and Oliver Platt; The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2000) with Judi Dench and Cleo Laine; and Le Divorce (2003), directed by James Ivory, with Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts.

On 30 June 2003, Caron traveled to San Francisco to appear as the special guest star in The Songs of Alan Jay Lerner: I Remember It Well, a retrospective concert staged by San Francisco's 42nd Street Moon Company. In 2007, her guest appearance on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit earned her a 2007 Primetime Emmy Award. On 27 April 2009, Caron traveled to New York as an honored guest at a tribute to Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe at the Paley Center for Media.[8]

For her contributions to the film industry, Caron was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame on 8 December 2009 with a motion pictures star located at 6153 Hollywood Boulevard.[9] In February 2010, she played Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, which also featured Greta Scacchi and Lambert Wilson.[10]

In 2016, Caron appeared in the ITV television series The Durrells as the Countess Mavrodaki.

Personal life

In September 1951, Caron married American George Hormel II, a grandson of the founder of the Hormel meat-packing company. They divorced in 1954.[11] During that period, while under contract to MGM, she lived in Laurel Canyon, in a Normandie style 1927 mansion, near the country store on Laurel Canyon Blvd. One bedroom was all mirrored for her dancing rehearsals.

Her second husband was British theatre director Peter Hall. They married in 1956 and had two children: Christopher John Hall (TV producer) in 1957 and Jennifer Caron Hall, a writer, painter, and actress, in 1958.Her son-in-law, married to Jennifer, is Glenn Wilhide, the producer and screenwriter.

Caron had an affair with Warren Beatty (1961). When she and Hall divorced in 1965, Beatty was named as a co-respondent and was ordered by the London court to pay the costs of the case.[12]

In 1969, Caron married Michael Laughlin, the producer of the film Two-Lane Blacktop; they divorced in 1980.

Caron was also romantically linked to Dutch television actor Robert Wolders from 1994 to 1995.[13]

From June 1993 until September 2009, Caron owned and operated the hotel and restaurant Auberge la Lucarne aux Chouettes (The Owls' Nest), located in Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, located about 130 km (80 mi) south of Paris.[14] Unhappy with the lack of work in France, Caron left Paris for England in 2013.

In her autobiography, Thank Heaven, she states that she obtained American citizenship in time to vote for Barack Obama for president.[15]

Awards and nominations



Year Title Role Notes
1951 An American in Paris Lise Bouvier
1951 The Man with a Cloak Madeline Minot
1952 Glory Alley Angela Evans
1953 The Story of Three Loves Mademoiselle segment: Mademoiselle
1953 Lili Lili Daurier BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated-Academy Award for Best Actress
1955 The Glass Slipper Ella
1955 Daddy Long Legs Julie Andre
1956 Gaby Gaby
1958 Gigi Gigi Laurel Award for Top Female Musical Performance
Nominated-Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1958 The Doctor's Dilemma Mrs. Dubedat
1959 The Man Who Understood Women Ann Garantier
1960 Austerlitz Mlle de Vaudey
1960 The Subterraneans Mardou Fox
1961 Fanny Fanny Laurel Award for Top Female Dramatic Performance (5th place)
Nominated-Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama
1962 Guns of Darkness Claire Jordan
1962 The L-Shaped Room Jane Fosset BAFTA Award for Best British Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama
Laurel Award for Top Female Dramatic Performance (3rd place)
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress (2nd place)
Nominated-Academy Award for Best Actress
1962 Three Fables of Love Annie segment: Les deux pigeons
1964 Father Goose Catherine
1965 A Very Special Favor Dr. Lauren Boullard
1965 Promise Her Anything Michele O'Brien
1966 Is Paris Burning? Françoise Labé
1967 Il padre di famiglia Paola, la moglie di Marco
1970 Madron Sister Mary
1971 Chandler Katherine Creighton
1976 Surreal Estate Céleste
1977 The Man Who Loved Women Véra
1977 Valentino Alla Nazimova
1978 Crazed Nicole
1979 Goldengirl Dr. Sammy Lee
1980 All Stars Lucille Berger
1981 Chanel Solitaire uncredited
1982 Imperative Mother
1984 Dangerous Moves Henia Liebskind
1990 Courage Mountain Jane Hillary
1990 Guns Waitress
1992 Damage Elizabeth Prideaux
1995 Funny Bones Katie Parker
1995 Let It Be Me Marguerite
1999 The Reef Regine De Chantelle
2000 Chocolat Madame Audel Nominated-Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2003 Le Divorce Suzanne de Persand
Year Title Role Notes
1959 ITV Play of the Week Thérèse Tarde 1 episode: The Wild Bird
1968 Off to See the Wizard Ella 1 episode: Cinderella's Glass Slipper: Part 1
1973 Carola Carola Janssen TV film
1974 QB VII Angela Kelno TV miniseries
1978 Docteur Erika Werner Erika Werner TV series
1980 Kontrakt Penelope TV film
1981 Mon meilleur Noël La Nuit 1 episode: L'oiseau bleu
1982 Tales of the Unexpected Nathalie Vareille 1 episode: Run, Rabbit, Run
1982 The Unapproachable Klaudia TV film
1983 Cinéma 16 Alice 1 episode: Le château faible
1984 Master of the Game Solange Dunas
1986 The Love Boat Mrs. Duvall 1 episode: The Christmas Cruise
1987 Falcon Crest Nicole Sauget 3 episodes
1988 Lenin: The Train Nadia TV film
1988 The Man Who Lived at the Ritz Coco Chanel TV film
1994 Normandy: The Great Crusade Osmont, Mary-Louise (voice)
1996 The Ring Madame de Saint Marne
1996 The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century Czarina Aleksandra Romanov (voice) 3 episodes
2000 The Last of the Blonde Bombshells Madeleine TV film
2001 Murder on the Orient Express Sra. Alvarado
2006 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Lorraine Delmas 1 episode: Recall
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
2013 Jo Josette Lenoir 1 episode: Le Marais
2016 The Durrells Countess Mavrodaki 3 episodes



  • The Lover (l'Amant) by Marguerite Duras on cassettes
  • First World War for the radio
  • Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien by Claude Debussy and Gabriele d'Annunzio, with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas
  • Gigi by Colette in English on cassettes recorded in public at Merkin Concert Hall at Abraham Goodman House in New York City, 1996
  • Narrated "Carnival of the Animals" music by Camille St Saëns with the Nash Ensemble – Wigmore Hall, 1999
  • The Plutocrats play for the BBC dir. Bill Bryden, written by Michael Hastings, from the novel by Booth Tarkington, January 1999


Books by Leslie Caron

  • Vengeance (short stories) – Doubleday US – 1982 – Weisdenfeld & Nicholas UK
  • Thank Heaven (autobiography) J.R. 2011 UK – Viking US UNE FRANCAISE A HOLLYWOOD – Baker Street FR

Articles by Leslie Caron

  • Interview with J. Fieschi and B. Villien, in Cinématographe (Paris), October 1980
  • "Polonaises", in Cinématographe (Paris), April 1982
  • "Enfin Star!", in Cinématographe (Paris), November 1983
  • "Un ami : Truffaut", in Cinématographe (Paris), December 1984

Articles by Leslie Caron

  • Current Biography 1954, New York, 1954
  • Film Dope (London), March 1982
  • Stars (Mariembourg), Spring 1994

See also


  1. TIFF Cinematheque Special Screenings: Summer 2016 » Leslie Caron: The Reluctant Star, 28 June 2016, archived from the original on 19 June 2016, retrieved 31 May 2016
  2. Kisselgoff, Anna (12 March 1995). "DANCE; The Ballerina in Leslie Caron The Actress". The New York Times.
  3. "Leslie Caron Biography". Fandango. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  4. Matthew Kennedy Thank Heaven: A Memoir, by Leslie Caron Archived 16 June 2013 at Archive.today, Brightlights.com, issue 67, February 2010
  5. "5th Moscow International Film Festival (1967)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  6. "Berlinale: 1989 Juries". Berlinale. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  7. "The Musicals of Lerner & Loewe: An Evening of Song and Television". The Paley Center for Media. 27 April 2009. Archived from the original on 28 June 2009.
  8. "Hollywood Walk of Fame – Leslie Caron". walkoffame.com. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Archived from the original on 3 April 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  9. "Leslie Caron Receives Walk of Fame Star". CBS 2 / KCAL 9. Los Angeles. 8 December 2009. Archived from the original on 11 December 2009.
  10. "Mill on the Willow: A History of Mower County, Minnesota" by various authors. Library of Congress No. 84-062356
  11. Rich, Frank (3 July 1978). "Warren Beatty Strikes Again". Time.
  12. "Leslie Caron". TCM Movie Database. Archived from the original on 26 February 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
  13. "French inn: Her latest stage". Los Angeles Times. 15 October 2006.
  14. Caron, Leslie (25 November 2009). Thank Heaven: A Memoir. New York: Viking Adult.
  15. Tele7.fr


  • Springer, John, All Talking, All Singing, All Dancing, New York, 1966
  • Kobal, John, Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance, New York, 1970
  • Knox, Donald, The Magic Factory, New York, 1973

Further reading

  • Leslie Caron, Vengeance, published by Doubleday (US), Weidenfeld & Nicolson (UK), André Balland (France), 1982, ISBN 0-385-17896-4
  • Leslie Caron, Thank Heaven, published by Viking Penguin (US), JR Books Ltd (UK), 2009, ISBN 978-1-906779-24-5
  • (in French) Leslie Caron, Une Française à Hollywood (Mémoires), (translation : Anne-Marie Hussein) published by Baker Street (US), 2011, ISBN 978-2-917559-16-1

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