Jean-Paul Belmondo

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jean-Paul Belmondo (1962)
Dédicace de Jean-Paul Belmondo en Aout 2012 (collection privée) .jpg

Jean-Paul Belmondo [ ʒɑ̃ˌpɔl bɛlmɔ̃ˈdo ] (born April 9, 1933 in Neuilly-sur-Seine , † September 6, 2021 in Paris , nickname Bébel ) was a French film and theater actor . Belmondo first became known as a performer within the Nouvelle Vague from the late 1950s . From the mid-1960s, he was one of the most successful stars of European cinema as a comedian and agile hero of action-oriented films for two decades.


Jean-Paul Belmondo was born the son of the famous Parisian sculptor and professor Paul Belmondo and the dancer Madeleine Belmondo. His father was born in what was then the French city of Algiers ( Pied-noir ); his family were immigrants from Piedmont and Sicily . His father came to Paris after the end of the First World War and counted well-known authors and artists such as Albert Camus among his friends who visited him regularly. In addition to his sister Muriel, Jean-Paul Belmondo had an older brother, Alain, who was production manager from the 1960s and producer of his films from the 1970s . Belmondo's younger sister Muriel worked as a dancer like her mother.

Belmondo had a very good relationship with his father, who always encouraged his diverse talents and interested him in art and culture at an early age. As a student, Belmondo was considered difficult and undisciplined, he had to change schools several times. At high school he was enthusiastic about boxing and fought several fights from the age of 13. “I never did this sport to make a career out of it. For me it was just a game where you had to pay a lot to win. ”At 16, Belmondo was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was sent to the Auvergne to recover . There he thought about his future and made the decision to become an actor.

As early as the early 1950s, Belmondo was active as an amateur actor and appeared, for example, on a tour of Paris hospitals. His father put him in contact with André Brunot , a member of the respected Comédie-Française . Belmondo auditioned the experienced actor and received the friendly advice from him not to pursue an acting career under any circumstances, as he apparently lacks the talent. Belmondo did not give up and spent six months preparing for the entrance exam at the Paris Conservatory , where he was accepted as an acting student. “You have to learn to act,” said Belmondo. “It's not too difficult, but you have to learn it.” At the conservatory he met young actors like Jean Rochefort , Bruno Crémer , Annie Girardot , Jean-Claude Brialy and Jean-Pierre Marielle , who became lifelong friends and later also in his films could be seen.

Belmondo worked as a poorly paid touring actor and had theater appearances. He was considered a talented young actor; due to its appearance, however, a career in the cinema seemed unlikely. He himself said: “I never thought of becoming famous one day. My face was nothing like a seducer, and at that time the appearance still played a major role. ”Belmondo did screen tests for later film classics such as Elevator to the Scaffold , but was not hired.

In 1957 he made his first film. In 1959 he finally made his breakthrough to a cinema star in the lead role of Out of Breath (director: Jean-Luc Godard ). In the same year he married the dancer Renée "Elodie" Constant. The marriage, which was divorced in 1965, gave birth to three children, Patricia, Florence and Paul. Paul Belmondo pursued a career as a racing car driver in the 1980s and 1990s. Patricia died in a fire in 1994.

Jean-Paul Belmondo, gala screening of the film Cartouche, the Bandit , source: ETH-Bibliothek , Comet Photo AG, photographer: Jack Metzger, Zurich, 1962

From 1963 to 1966, Jean-Paul Belmondo was chairman of the French actors' association. From 1966 to 1974 he lived with the actress Ursula Andress .

On August 8, 2001, he suffered a stroke in Corsica and his health has been impaired ever since. In 2002 he married his second wife Nathalie, with whom he has another daughter, who was born in 2003. In September 2008, the actor confirmed that the marriage was divorced.

In 2010, the star hit the headlines because of his young lover Barbara Gandolfi, to whom he is said to have transferred a large sum of money. Gandolfi is said to have forwarded the money to her ex-husband, against whom the police were investigating, among other things, for money laundering and pimping. In October 2012 it was announced that Belmondo had ended the relationship with Gandolfi.

In 2016 his autobiography Mille vies valent mieux qu'une was published, the German translation of which was published two years later under the title Meine Tausend Leben: die Autobiografie .

Belmondo died of natural causes in Paris on September 6, 2021. He was 88 years old.


1957 to 1959

Jean-Paul Belmondo's film career began in 1957 with the film À pied, à cheval et en voiture , in which he was only seen in a single scene. In his second film Be beautiful and shut up (1958) he only had the status of a better extras.

In 1958 and 1959 Belmondo appeared as a supporting actor in several films and played under the direction of renowned directors such as Marcel Carné and Marc Allégret . In An Angel on Earth (1959) he was seen at the side of Romy Schneider . The films in which Belmondo was seen were usually part of the conventional French entertainment cinema, which was sharply attacked by the young critics of the influential film magazine Cahiers du cinéma because they found it anemic and artistically worthless.

In the late 1950s, the most important critics of the Cahiers moved to the director's chair and began directing their first films on a small budget. It was the beginning of the Nouvelle Vague , which gave national and international cinema important impulses for years to come. The directors of the Nouvelle Vague met the typical studio productions of the established cinema, which were described as sterile, with a modern and unconventional film language . Belmondo worked regularly for the most important Nouvelle Vague directors ( Jean-Luc Godard , François Truffaut , Claude Chabrol , Louis Malle , Alain Resnais ) until the early 1970s and became the leading actor of this era.

The most important film of the Nouvelle Vague became Jean-Luc Godard's debut album Breathless . Former Cahiers critic Godard, 29, shot this black and white film in and around Paris in 1959 on a very low budget. He filmed the streets with a shaky hand-held camera, improvising dialogues and using unconventional editing techniques. The main actor of Out of Breath was the 26-year-old Belmondo in the role of the petty crook Michel Poiccard, who lives aimlessly into the day, although the investigators are hot on his heels after a police murder. After his girlfriend Patricia ( Jean Seberg ) betrayed him to the police, he was shot on the street - but still found the time to say the famous final sentence to Patricia: "You really suck!"

Out of breath became a huge box-office hit and a classic in international cinema. Godard's innovative film language inspired young filmmakers around the world, for example the directors of New Hollywood and New German Films . With the figure of the Poiccard, Belmondo created a modern antihero whose fatalistic-cynical attitude already referred to the 1960s. The film established Belmondo as the first protagonist of a new generation of screen stars who were no longer committed to the tradition of the good-looking hero, but instead stood out through realistic depictions. A decade later, actors like Dustin Hoffman and Jack Nicholson made a name for themselves in this role in the United States .

Out of breath overnight, Belmondo became the identification figure of a predominantly young audience, who found themselves in the figure he portrayed. In other films, too, he played the role of the rebellious outsider who rarely accepts a rule with great certainty and naturalness.

In 1959, Belmondo appeared on the side of Lino Ventura in Claude Sautet's gangster film The Panther is harassed on, which became a classic of the genre. Belmondo is the best friend of Abel Davos (Ventura), a condemned criminal whose arrest he cannot prevent. For the first time, the young actor was an equal partner of a leading cinema star. In 1960, Belmondo worked for the love film The French Woman and Love for the first time (still in a supporting role) with Henri Verneuil , under whose direction he was to be seen in many box office hits until 1984.

1960 to 1964

Jean-Paul Belmondo (right) and Philippe de Broca at a gala screening of the film Cartouche , 1962 in Zurich

Between 1960 and 1964, Belmondo completed an enormous workload. He has appeared in 28 films, made a name for himself as a versatile actor in all genres and, alongside Alain Delon, became the most popular French actor of his generation.

In Peter Brook's film Hours of Tenderness (1960), based on a novel by Marguerite Duras , Belmondo appeared as a factory worker who began an affair with a bored industrialist wife ( Jeanne Moreau ). (While filming, Belmondo and Moreau's son were involved in a serious car accident.) Under star director Vittorio De Sica , he starred alongside Sophia Loren in And Yet Live , a drama from Rome in 1943 in 1961. He was in the same year seen alongside Claudia Cardinale in Das Haus in Via Roma , a romantic melodrama in 19th century Florence. In 1961, Belmondo played under Godard for the second time and appeared in Eine Frau ist ein Frau , a love story in the style of the Nouvelle Vague , which won an award at the Berlin Film Festival. In Eve and the Priest (1961), Belmondo appeared - for the first time under the direction of Jean-Pierre Melville - in the unusual role of a pastor, with whom a young woman falls in love during the German occupation of France. Melville was enthusiastic about his star: “Belmondo is the most extraordinary actor of his generation. He can do everything. "

Jean-Paul Belmondo, gala screening of the film Cartouche, the Bandit , source: ETH-Bibliothek , Comet Photo AG, photographer: Jack Metzger, Zurich, 1962

In 1962, Belmondo appeared in the adventure film Cartouche, the Bandit (director: Philippe de Broca) for the first time in the role of a charming adventurer. In pre-revolutionary France, as the head of a gang of thieves, he made it easier for noble ladies to get their jewelry in order to give it to his companion Venus (Claudia Cardinale). In A Monkey in Winter , directed by Verneuil, he starred alongside the legendary Jean Gabin , who became friends with the younger Belmondo as a bored hotel owner. In the gangster film The Devil in the White Vest Belmondo appeared again under Jean-Pierre Melville. He also staged him in 1962 in The Millions of a Hounded - Belmondo as the private secretary of old Charles Vanel , who fled through the USA with a suitcase of money. Both Melville films are considered classics in French cinema.

Belmondo appeared under Marcel Ophüls in 1963 in the film Hot Plaster . As the husband of Cathy (Jeanne Moreau), he and her take revenge on those who ruined their father. In the same year he played a truck driver in North Africa ( $ 100,000 in the sun ), directed by Verneuil and alongside Lino Ventura . In 1964 he appeared in the tabloid comedy Hunt for Men (director: Edouard Molinaro) and the war film Dunkirk, June 2, 1940 (director: Henri Verneuil), a film adaptation of Robert Merle's novel Weekend in Zuidcoote .

In 1964 the actor achieved his final breakthrough to international star with Philippe de Broca's adventure in Rio . The very successful adventure film showed Belmondo as a young daredevil who is embroiled in wild chases in France and Brazil. He gave the actor ample opportunity to distinguish himself as an action star who, as a rule, could not be doubled even in dangerous stunts (he does gymnastics here, among other things, over the shell of Brasília ). Outwardly, Belmondo did not correspond to the classic type of adventure hero à la Errol Flynn . Nevertheless, the well-trained actor with the cheeky charm became very popular in action and adventure roles. Because of this popularity and the type that Belmondo mostly embodied at this time, Lieutenant Blueberry , a comic book hero penned by Jean-Michel Charlier and Jean Giraud , who was created for Pilote magazine in 1963 , got Belmondo's facial features (since Blueberry is different from many other comic book heroes age significantly in the course of the series, the similarity to Belmondo in later stories in the series was lost in the course of this aging process).

1965 to 1969

In the second half of the 1960s, Belmondo reduced his workload considerably and made only eleven films.

In Godard's surrealistic road movie Elf Uhr nachts (1965), a love story from the Nouvelle Vague , Ferdinand alias "Pierrot le Fou" (Belmondo) drives to a lonely island with his ex-girlfriend Marianne Renoir (played by the Danish actress and singer Anna Karina ) to find happiness there. When he realizes that she has cheated on him, he blows himself up with dynamite . With The Great Adventures of Monsieur L. (after Jules Verne ) Philippe de Broca tried in 1965 with an even greater effort to build on the success of Adventure in Rio . However, the film did not go down well with critics and audiences. In 1966 Belmondo appeared in Brennt Paris? , a highly budgeted film epic with many international stars, which traces the events in 1944 shortly before the liberation of Paris.

Louis Malle directed Belmondo in 1967 in The Thief of Paris , in which the actor plays a son from a good family who, out of defiance, becomes a professional burglar. Belmondo made a brief guest appearance as a French legionnaire in the costly James Bond parody Casino Royale (1967). In 1968 he played (after returning from a two-year trip around the world) in Robert Enrico's crime thriller Ho! a driver of escape vehicles. Director Claude Lelouch , a specialist in melodramas, realized with Belmondo in 1969 The Man I Like , in which the actor starts an affair with Annie Girardot (his former drama schoolmate). In the same year, the renowned François Truffaut cast Belmondo in the classic The Secret of the False Bride , in which he is seen in the passive, rather unfamiliar role of a man who, out of love , lets himself be betrayed by a beautiful blonde ( Catherine Deneuve ).

The 1960s ended with the box office hit Das Superhirn (1969), a big budget action comedy in which Belmondo starred alongside international stars such as David Niven and Eli Wallach as a likable petty crook who carried out a train robbery.

1970 to 1979

Borsalino , a gangster story from Marseille in the 1930s, united Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo, the two greatest French stars of this era, in 1970. Asexpected, thefilm (directed by Jacques Deray ) was a hit with the public (Belmondo, however, had to file a lawsuit because Delon had been paid twice as a co-producer, contrary to the contracts). With Jean-Paul Rappeneau's musketeer with blow and stitch (1970) the actor was able to distinguish himself eight years after Cartouche, the bandit again as a coat-and-sword hero and book a big box-office hit. Henri Verneuil's action thriller The Coup (1971), in which Belmondo appeared alongside Omar Sharif and performed several dangerous stunt scenes,also proved to be very successful.

In Philippe Labro's The Heir (1972), Belmondo exposes the heir to an industrial empire, the criminals who killed his father. Claude Chabrol's Doctor Popaul featured the star in a 1972 society satire . In the same year Belmondo was also seen on the side of Claudia Cardinale in the gangster film The Man from Marseille . In the tailor-made role of a charming adventurer in Le Magnifique (director: Phillipe de Broca) in 1973, the star was again able to record a great success: Belmondo appeared here as a shy writer who hallucinates himself in the adventure stories he has written. Alain Resnais ' ambitious film Stavisky in 1974 , which traces the scandal surrounding the fraudster of the same name, which caused a sensation in the 1930s, met with much less public response .

While Belmondo had taken on a multitude of different roles until the early 1970s and appeared under the direction of top French directors (Godard, Malle, Truffaut, Melville, Resnais, Chabrol), his films from the mid-1970s were almost without exception on his image as Comedic and athletic action hero tailored and commercially oriented. This brought criticism to the actor, who was also one of the most popular stars in German-speaking countries until the mid-1980s. The films in question were often rated as formulaic and uninspired.

With the action thriller Angst über der Stadt , which was clearly inspired by American police films such as Dirty Harry , Henri Verneuil made one of his most popular and successful films in 1975. As the tough Commissioner Le Tellier, Belmondo chases a woman murderer and performs spectacular stunts on the roofs and subways of Paris. In the following year, Verneuil and his long-time leading actor directed the ambitious film The Body of My Enemy , which throws a critical light on the corrupt in the “better circles”.

In 1975 Belmondo starred as a disguise artist and charming impostor in The Despicable One by Phillipe de Broca. He took on a completely opposite role in 1976 in the tough thriller The Gripper by Philippe Labro . Belmondo appeared as special agent Pilard chasing down a brutal robbery (played by his former drama schoolmate Bruno Cremer ). In 1977 the star was seen again in the role of a sporty and charming Filous and played alongside Raquel Welch in A crazy guy, the stuntman Mike, who is hired as a double for the vain superstar Bruno Ferrari - a double role. In the action film The Greyhound (1979) he reappeared as a tough inspector and cleaned up the underworld of Nice in a tried and tested manner. The greyhound was the first of four successful films that the star made together with director Georges Lautner .

From 1980

Jean-Paul Belmondo (2013)
Belmondo with partner Barbara Gandolfi and festival director Gilles Jacob (right) at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival

Lautner directed Belmondo in 1980 in the crook comedy The Puppeteer and in 1981 turned the action thriller The Professional , which became one of the most famous films by the French star. As a special agent Beaumont, who was betrayed by his own clients, Belmondo starts a revenge campaign in Paris (with Robert Hossein as an opponent) after he was able to escape from an African prison camp . Composer Ennio Morricone was able to record a hit parade with his catchy music.

In Das As der Ase (1982) by Gérard Oury, Belmondo becomes the protector of a Jewish boy as the coach of the French boxing team during the 1936 Olympic Games. In 1983 he appeared again as a tough commissioner in front of the camera ( The Outsider , Director: Jacques Deray). The following year, Belmondo made his last film with Henri Verneuil, The Glorious , a dumb adventure comedy set against the backdrop of World War II. The mixture of violence and stupid sayings is an example of Belmondo's work since the late 1970s. Georges Lautner's criticized comedy Happy Easter (1984, starring Sophie Marceau ) was followed by the 1985 Canadian action comedy The Boss , in which Belmondo played a tricky bank robber. While making this film, the 52-year-old star sustained a head injury while shooting a stunt and decided to retire from his career as an action star. He played his last role in this genre in 1987 in Der Profi 2 . Although this film had no connection to the original Der Profi , it was distributed as a sequel in Germany for marketing reasons. The orgy of violence, Der Profi 2 , was unable to build on previous successes.

From the late 1980s onwards, Belmondo seldom appeared as a film actor, mostly character roles appropriate to his age. In the 1990s, his films usually no longer found German distributors. The action comedy Alle Meine Väter (1998), in which Belmondo appeared again with Alain Delon , was never shown in German cinemas. After his stroke in 2001, Belmondo was not in front of the camera for years. His last film, A Man and His Dog , was released in 2008 . As early as 1987 Belmondo (from 1992 in his own Théâtre des Variétés ) resumed his stage work - he played in comedies, but also in classical tragedies.

In 2010 the Los Angeles Film Critics Association recognized Belmondo for his life's work.

In 2011, Belmondo was honored at the 64th Cannes Film Festival with a gala evening. This honor went hand in hand with the premiere of Vincent Perrots and Jeff Domenech's documentary Belmondo, Itinéraire ... (English-language title: Belmondo, The Career ).

The production of the film Les Bandits manchots , in which the then 80-year-old Belmondo, directed by Claude Lelouch , was announced for 2013 .

In 2014, Belmondo's son Paul shot a tribute to his father . The film was released on DVD under the title Belmondo by Belmondo .

German synchronization

Belmondo was mainly dubbed by Peer Schmidt and Klaus Kindler until the mid-1970s . After that, Rainer Brandt became the actor's standard voice actor. Brandt spiced up Belmondo's appearance with the usual joke dialogues ("Joss Beaumont - espionage and snout polisher" from the film The Professional ).



Handprint and signature of Belmondo in front of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes


Web links

Commons : Jean-Paul Belmondo  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Sandro Cassati: Belmondo le magnifique . City Edition ,, ISBN 9782824601625 .
  2. Luise Schendel: Jean-Paul Bébel Belmondo is 80 years old , , April 9, 2013
  3. Patricia Belmondo, sa fille disparue ,
  4. ^ Jean-Paul Belmondo: Divorce after 19 years with Natty , Focus Online from September 8, 2008
  5. ^ Jean-Paul Belmondo: A sad role , of August 6, 2010
  6. Belmondo ends relationship with ex-model , from October 2, 2012
  7. My thousand lives. Jean-Paul Belmondo in the catalog of the German National Library
  8. ^ French film legend Jean-Paul Belmondo is dead. In: Focus Online . September 6, 2021, accessed September 6, 2021 .
  9. Career Achievement ( Memento of December 17, 2009 in the Internet Archive ),, accessed on September 17, 2012
  10. see official press release ( memento of November 17, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) at, March 30, 2011, accessed on April 16, 2011.
  11. ^ Jean-Paul Belmondo and Claude Lelouch réunis pour Les Bandits manchots. ( Memento of July 30, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) TF1 , August 6, 2012.