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Leslie Caron

Leslie Claire Margaret Caron (; 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.

Caron is best known for the musical films An American in Paris (1951) her film debut, 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. While her older brother Aimery Caron became a chemist like their father, Leslie was prepared for a performing career from childhood by her mother.

Career

Caron started her career as a ballerina. Gene Kelly discovered her in the Roland Petit company "" 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."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.

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. In 1989, she was a member of the jury at the 39th Berlin International Film Festival.

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.

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. 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.

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. 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.

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.

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 south of Paris. 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.

Awards and nominations

  • British Academy Film Award 1954: Award for Best Leading Actress for Lili
  • Academy Award Nomination 1954: Best Actress in a film for Lili
  • Laurel Awards 1959: Golden Laurel for Best Leading Actress in a musical film for Gigi
  • British Academy Film Award 1963: Award for Best Leading Actress for The L-Shaped Room
  • Golden Globes 1964: Golden Globes for Best Leading Actress in a dramatic film for The L-Shaped Room
  • Laurel Awards 1964: Golden Laurel for Best Leading Actress in a dramatic film for The L-Shaped Room
  • Academy Award Nomination 1964: Best Actress in a film for The L-Shaped Room
  • Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards 1989: Lifetime Achievement Award
  • School of American Ballet 1996: Life Achievement Award
  • Palm Springs International Film Festival 1996: Life Achievement Award
  • Sarasota Film Festival 2005: Life Achievement Award
  • Emmy Award 2007: Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for Law and Order SVU (episode Recall #8005, 2006, NBC)
  • 8 December 2009: Hollywood Walk of Fame motion pictures star at 6153 Hollywood Boulevard, between Gene Kelly and Louis Jourdan
  • Honorary Degree 2009: the American University of Paris

    Honors

  • Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur by President François Mitterrand in June 1993
  • Ordre National du Mérite, by Catherine Trautmann, Minister of Culture, in February 1998
  • Officier de la Légion d'Honneur, given by Prime Minister Jean Pierre Raffarin in June 2004
  • Medaille D'Or De La Ville De Paris in 2012
  • Commandeur de la Légion d'honneur in March 2013
  • J F Kennedy Gold Medal in the Arts in 2015

    Filmography



    Theatre

  • 1955: Orvet, by Jean Renoir, director Jean Renoir, Théâtre de la Renaissance, Paris
  • 1955: Gigi, by Anita Loos, director Sir Peter Hall, New Theatre, London
  • 1961: La sauvage, by Jean Anouilh, BBC (live), London
  • 1961: Ondine, by Jean Giraudoux, director Sir Peter Hall, Aldwych Theatre, London
  • 1965: Carola, by Jean Renoir, director Norman Lloyd, PBS TV, Los Angeles
  • 1975–1981: 13, rue de l'amour (Monsieur Chasse), by Georges Feydeau, director Basil Langton, US and Australia
  • 1978: Can-Can, musical by Cole Porter & Abe Burrows, director John Bishop, US and Canadian tour
  • 1983: The rehearsal by Jean Anouilh, director Gillian Lynne, English tour
  • 1984: On your toes by Rodgers and Hart, director George Abbott, US tour
  • 1985: One for the Tango (Apprends-moi Céline) by Maria Pacôme, director Pierre Epstein, US tour
  • 1985: L'inaccessible, author and director Krzysztof Zanussi, Théâtre du Petit Odéon of Paris and Spoletto Festival, Italy
  • 1991: Grand hotel, adaptation from the novel of Vicki Baum, director Tommy Tune, Berlin
  • 1991: Le martyre de Saint Sebastien by Claude Debussy and Gabriele d'Annunzio, narration, directed by Michael Tilson Thomas, London Symphony Orchestra
  • 1995: Georges Sand et Chopin, author Bruno Villien, Greenwich Festival, Great Britain
  • 1997: Nocturne for lovers, adaptation Gavin Lambert, director Kado Kostzer, Chichester Festival Theatre, Great Britain
  • 1997: The story of Babar, by Jean de Brunhoff, narration, music from Francis Poulenc, Chichester Festival, Great Britain
  • 1998: Apprends-moi Céline, by Maria Pacôme, director Raymond Acquaviva, French tour
  • 1999: Readings from Colette, director Roger Hodgeman, Melbourne Festival, Australia
  • 1999: Nocturne for lovers, director Roger Hodgeman, Melbourne Festival, Australia
  • 2009: Thank Heaven – 'platform' at the Théâtre National of London
  • 2009: A Little Night Music by Stephen Sondheim, director Lee Blakeley, Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris
  • 2014: Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks by Richard Alfieri, director Michael Arabian, Laguna Playhouse, Laguna Beach, California

    Recordings

  • 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

    Publications

    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