FIGHTS – France is preparing to pay tribute to Jean-Paul Belmondo. Many French people will keep the image of an actor out of the ordinary. But his relatives prefer to retain the image of a fighter who has been able to get up, despite the hard blows of life.
Thibault Nadal –
During confinement in spring 2020, Jean-Paul Belmondo had sent the TF1 editorial staff a video of him playing sports and laughing. A way for the actor to show everyone that he was in poor shape.
In 35 years of collaboration, his lawyer has never heard him complain about his fate. “He was suffering from his illness and he wanted the French to keep the image of the Bébel fighting lions or clinging to helicopters”, confides Michel Godest.
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Jean-Paul Belmondo, the death of a legend
Difficult first steps in cinema and theater
Suffering from a primary tuberculosis infection at the age of sixteen, Belmondo left to recharge his batteries in Auvergne. It was there that he decided to become an actor. Laboriously admitted to the Conservatory in 1952, Belmondo was little appreciated by teachers because of his physique considered “incompatible with the leading roles”. “You would make a hall roar with laughter if you hugged a woman.”
One anecdote has been remembered: in the 1956 competition, he won a simple accessit for a scene from the play. “Love and Piano” de Feydeau, which closed the door of the Comédie-Française to him, despite the ovation of his classmates. Carried in triumph by his band, he leaves the room, addressing a finger of honor to the jurors. “It made a little scandal at the Conservatory”, he will recall.
His first steps in the cinema are just as complicated. For several years, he played roles in cinema and theater without success. For example, in 1956, Belmondo starred in the film Sunday Friends, which does not find a distributor, and will not be released until 1967. It must wait until 1960 and the release of the film Breathless for his career to really take off.
The death of his daughter, “the drama of his life”
It was in 1994 that “the drama of his life” as he calls it intervenes. Her eldest daughter, Patricia, from her union with professional dancer Élodie Constantin, dies in the fire in her apartment rue de Rennes in Paris. A drama that the actor kept to himself, being very modest on the subject. He will write a few lines about it in his autobiography A thousand lives are better than one. “My little darling, my daughter Patricia, did not have time to be forty … My little girl is dead. She who was my joy, working like me in the cinema, but behind the camera, my child , I will no longer take her in my arms. “
On the evening of the drama, Jean-Paul Belmondo decides to go on stage the same evening. “He’s a man who lived with his pain, but without bothering the world. He wouldn’t have wanted us to be sad. He told us” don’t forget that I was a happy man, spoiled by life”, explains Jeff Domenech, director and friend of Bébel.
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Victim of a stroke in 2001
In 2001, Jean-Paul Belmondo suffered a stroke while on vacation in Corsica with his friend Guy Bedos. From this accident, the actor has a sequel: he becomes hemiplegic, that is to say that he is paralyzed in one member, the right side of the face in this case. This accident almost put an end to his career, even if in 2008, he made a last film, A man and his dog. But even in a rehabilitation center in Granville, Jean-Paul wants us to keep the image of him as a fighter. “How many times has he said to me” we’re going to get out of this, I’m doing everything to get out, because I want to get out, that was Jean Paul “.
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Schedule, public, guests … Everything you need to know about the national tribute to Jean-Paul Belmondo on Thursday at the Invalides
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