On Monday, one of the last of the French legendary stars, Jean-Paul Belmondo breathed his last, at his home in Paris, France. He was 88 years old. Although no cause of death was given, the office of his lawyer, Michel Godest confirmed his death on September 6.
Jean-Paul Belmondo had played tough guy roles, with shades of non-sentimental and antisocial behavior, of characters that moved away from bourgeois society. This led to frequent comparisons with similar Hollywood legends such as Humphrey Bogart, James Dean and Marlon Brando. He became internationally popular after his iconic role in 1961 in Jean-Luc Godard’s a bout de soufflé that was released internationally as Breathless.
Being one of the most popular French stars, he had to bow down to audiences and also star in commercial films including comedies that were crowd pleasers but he welcomed it as he said that he did not wish to be stereotyped. However, with his craggy looks, his somewhat unruly mop of hair and his magnetic personality he brought a little extra to all his roles, with a slightly comedic touch to his thriller roles and a mildly thriller persona to his comedy roles.
Belmondo was born on April 9, 1933, in a suburb of Paris. He had a bohemian upbringing, at La Rive Gauche — the artistic Left Bank on Paris. His father was a famous sculptor whose statues are seen in several locations across the city. A young Belmondo, who didn’t thrive in school, decided to become a boxer and won 15 out of 23 of his bouts. He left the boxing ring for stage lights and joined acting school, beginning his career by performing on stage
His first role, as Lazlo in the1958 movie Les Tricheurs by Marcel Carne, was well received and this performance fetched him the lead in Breathless which gave him cult status. He went on to star in numerous films, performing his own stunts till he met with an accident at the age of 52, during the shooting of the 1985 movie Hold Up.
He worked in a diverse genre of movies. He also worked with international stars in blockbusters. He went back to the stage in 1985 and henceforth, worked in both the movies and the stage.
In 1987, he won a Cesar award, which can be considered as a French Oscar, for his role in Itineraire d’un Enfant Gate. Empire magazine chose him as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history as he had a magnetic presence rather than good looks. He leaves behind three children.