Cinema Icon Anouk Aimée, Beloved French Star, Dies at 92


The glittering world of cinema mourns, as Anouk Aimée, the illustrious French star, famed for her deep, expressive eyes and unforgettable performances in films such as “La Dolce Vita” by Federico Fellini and “A Man and a Woman” by Claude Lelouch, breathes her last at the ripe age of 92.

Sébastien Perrolat, Aimée’s distinguished representative, announced her peaceful passing, under the care and comfort of her loved ones, on a calm Tuesday morning. Although the cause of her death remains unconfirmed, the beloved star’s daughter, Manuela Papatakis gave a heartfelt tribute to her deceased mother on Instagram stating her presence by Aimee’s side at their Paris domicile during her last moments.

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Throughout an illustrious career spanning an awe-inspiring seven decades, Aimée had the good fortune of collaborating with an impressive catalogue of acclaimed directors, including cinematic giants such as Jacques Demy, Bernardo Bertolucci, Jacques Becker, Robert Altman, and Sidney Lumet. An array of performances earmark her spectacular journey in cinema, however, her portrayal of a widow opposite Jean-Louis Trintignant in the 1966’s film, “A Man and a Woman,” remains one of her most celebrated works. The story unfurls as her character encounters a widower race-car driver, played by Trintignant, at a boarding school attended by their children.

This romantic classic not only scored a huge hit at the box office but also went on to garner the coveted Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Aimée’s poignant performance won her a Golden Globe and a nomination for an Oscar as well. The film further clinched Academy Awards for best foreign language film and Lelouch’s screenplay.

Aimée’s repertoire expands far beyond the limelight of awards and box office glory. Her unique blend of elegance and enigma endured over the decades, as she continued working well into her 80s, reuniting with Lelouch and Trintignant for 2019’s “The Best Years of a Life” Her mesmerising roles as the seductive socialite Maddalena in Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” (1960), and as Mastroianni’s estranged wife in “8 1/2” (1963) are testimony to her formidable range and alluring presence.

Fellini once noted, describing Aimée’s captivating screen presence, that she represented the type of woman who could leave you “flustered and confused — to death.” He saw her in the same league as Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, and Joan Crawford, the “great, mysterious queens,” of cinema.

Born as Nicole Françoise Florence Dreyfus on April 27, 1932, Aimée’s journey in to stardom is as intriguing as her varied roles on screen. She was only 13 when director Henri Calef, enchanted by her innocent charisma, on a Parisian street, offered her a role in a movie. The name “Anouk”, adopted from her first film “The House Under the Sea,” and “Aimée,” the French word for “loved,” came from the poet Jacques Prévert after her first lead role in 1951’s “The Lovers of Verona.”

A life marked by whirlwind romances and personal ups and downs, Aimée had four marriages, including with renowned actor Albert Finney. Her bicontinental career was studded with appearances in high-profile Hollywood projects like Lumet’s “The Appointment” and Altman’s “Prêt-à-Porter,” nevertheless, her heart belonged to the European film industry. Her iconic status in France was cemented with victories in Cannes for the dark comedy “A Leap in the Dark,” and a lifetime achievement award at the Césars in 2002.

Her commitment and talent earned her glowing praises from Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who remembered her as “the symbol of elegance, talent, commitment.” In her own words, Aimée once shared the secret which Fellini had passed onto her, “the most important thing of all is to listen.” She emphasized on the importance of not taking things too seriously, thus exiting the world stage, leaving behind a legacy as captivating as the characters she portrayed, and echoing sentiments of a life lived with “no regrets.”