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Alain Delon (born 8 November 1935) is a French actor, one of the best known outside his native country. Delon’s star rose quickly, and by the age of twenty-three he was garnering comparisons to French screen legends such as Gerard Philipe and Jean Marais, as well as American actor James Dean. He was even called the male Brigitte Bardot. Not wanting to fall back on his looks, Delon tried to take roles that presented him with more of a challenge. In particular he took parts playing a thief or gangster. One of the remarkable qualities about Delon’s performances is that despite the immorality of many of the characters he plays, he manages to make them charming, and even likeable. Over the course of his career, Delon has worked with legendary directors, including Luchino Visconti, Jean-Luc Godard, Michaelangelo Antonioni, and Louis Malle. Many consider him an earlier European version of Chow Yun-Fat.
Delon was born in Sceaux, a Paris suburb, on November 8, 1935. His parents, Fabien and Edith, divorced when Delon was young. Both remarried, and Delon has a half-sister, and two half-brothers.He attended a Catholic boarding school, the first of several schools from which he was expelled, due to unruly behavior. Despite this behavior he was more than competant as a student. Teachers once tried to convince him to enter the priesthood due to his aptitude in religious studies.
At fourteen Delon left school, and worked for a brief time at his stepfather's butcher shop. He enlisted in the army three years later, and in 1953 was sent to fight in Indo-China. Delon has said that out of his five years of military service he spent 11 months in prison for being "undisciplined." After being dishonorably discharged from the army he returned to Paris. He had no money, and got by on whatever employment he could find. He spent time working as a waiter, a porter, and a sales clerk. During this time he became friends with the actress Brigitte Auber, and joined her on a trip to the Cannes Film Festival, where his film career would begin.
At Cannes, Delon was seen by a talent scout for David O. Selznick. After a successful screen test Selznick offered him a contract, provided he learn English. Delon returned to Paris to study English, but when he met French director Yves Allegret, he was convinced that he should stay in France to begin his career. Selznick allowed Delon to cancel his contract, and Allegret gave him his debut in the film Quand la Femme s'en Mele (When the Woman Butts In). Delon then got to show a comedic aspect of himself in the film Faibles Femmes (Women Are Weak). This was also the first of his films to be seen in America, where it became a success.
The first role to really test Delon as a serious actor was in Rene Clement's Plein Soleil (Purple Noon), which was based on the Patricia Highsmith novel The Talented Mr. Ripley. Delon played killer Tom Ripley, and the film went on to be very well recieved. But it was Visconti's Rocco and His Brothers that helped solidify Delon's status as an important new actor. Critic Bosley Crowther of the New York Times said Delon's work was: "touchingly pliant and expressive." John Beaufort, in the Christian Science Monitor said: "Rocco's heartbroken steadfastness furnishes the film with the foremost of its ironic tragedies... Its believability rests finally on Mr. Delon's compelling performance." In 1964 the Cinematheque francais held a showcase of Delon's films. That he recieved this honor so soon into his career distinguished him from most other young stars.
Delon’s stage debut came in 1961. He performed in a French production of John Ford’s play, 'Tis Pity She’s a Whore. The production was directed by Visconti, who Delon would work with again for Il Gattopardo (The Leopard). Many directors chose to work with Delon time and time again. Among these is Jean-Pierre Melville. Melville directed Delon in Un Flic, Le Cercle Rouge, and most notably in Le Samourai, which is widely regarded as one of Delon’s finest performances.
In 1964 Delon started a production company, Delbeau Production, with Georges Beaume. They produced a film called L’insoumis, which had to be re-edited due to legal issues. Delon then started his own production company, Adel. He produced and starred in the company’s first film, Jeff. Delon followed the success of the film with Borsalino, which became one of France’s highest grossing films of the time.
In 1973, he made a duet with the French pop singer Dalida on "Paroles, paroles", which was a big hit in France, Japan, Canada, and many other countries.
After a string of box office failures in the 80s and 90s, culminating in the surprising box-office failure of Patrice Leconte's film, Une Chance sur deux, Delon announced his decision to give up acting in 1997. Now in his early 70’s, Delon occassionally accepts roles. In 1990, he worked with auteur Jean-Luc Godard, on a film called Nouvelle vague, in which he played twins. In 2003 the Walter Reade Theater did a series entitled “Man in the Shadows: The Films of Alain Delon.” Most recently, it has been announced that he will play a role in a film called L’ Ennemi public n. 1, a project to which French actor Vincent Cassel is also attached.
Relationships and Family
Delon was engaged to actress Romy Schneider, whom he met when they appeared together in the film Christine. In august of 1964, shortly after the broken engagement, he married Nathalie Barthelemy. Their son, Anthony was born in September. The couple divorced four years later. In 1984 Delon remarried, this time to a woman named Rosalie Van Breemen. They had two children, Anouchka and Alain-Fabien. Delon and Van Breeman divorced in 2002.
In addition to his marriages, it was speculated that he had an affair with German actress and singer Nico, who was a member of the band The Velvet Underground. In 1962 Nico had a son, Christian Aaron Boulogne and claimed that he was fathered by Delon. But Delon has stated many times that he is not the father.
In 1968 Delon’s bodyguard, Stepan Markovic, was found shot in the head in a dumpster outside Delon’s home. Delon’s friend Francois Marcantoni was charged with accessory to murder. Delon himself was held by police for questioning, despite the fact that the murder took place in Paris, and Delon was filming in St. Tropez. His ex-wife Nathalie was taken in for questioning as well.
• Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers, 1960)
• Plein soleil (Purple Noon, 1960)
• L'Eclisse (The Eclipse, 1962)
• Il Gattopardo (The Leopard, 1963)
• Mйlodie en sous-sol (Any Number Can Win, 1963)
• L'Insoumis (The Unvanquished, 1964)
• Le Samouraп (The Godson, 1967)
• Les Aventuriers (The Last Adventure, 1967)
• Le Clan des Siciliens (The Sicilian Clan, 1969)
• Le Cercle rouge (The Red Circle, 1970)
• Deux hommes dans la ville (Two Men in Town, 1973)
• Les Granges brulйes (Suspect of Murder, 1973)
• Comme un boomerang (Boomerang, 1976)
• Monsieur Klein (Mr. Klein, 1976)
• The Concorde: Airport '79 (1979)
• Tegeran-43 (Teheran 43: Spy Ring, 1981)
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