The protagonist of “Lili” turns 90 years old.
The professional career of Leslie Caron, who this Thursday will turn 90 years of life, took many turns: she was known as a dancer in “Symphony of Paris” When I was 20 years old, I was the naive of “Lili” when I was 23, and in “Tooth” when he was 27, but at 46 his “sex appeal” exploded in “Valentino”, where he notoriously overshadowed the impossible lead couple of Rudolf Nureyev and Michelle Phillips.
On “Symphony of Paris” (Vincente Minnelli, 1951) had the privilege of performing and dancing reed to Gene Kelly, his discoverer, in “Lilí” (Charles Walters, 1953) -a story with puppets, whose song devastated the radios for months- and in “Teeth” (Minnelli, 1958) she played those naive rogue roles that Hollywood censorship allowed and enjoyed.
Caron developed his career mostly in the United States but was born in France -in Boulogne-Billancourt, in the north of the country, so even the pronunciation of his name should vary-, and she pointed out several times that she felt more like an actress than a dancer; However, it was dance that opened the doors to his career.
An iconic scene from “Lili”.
Thanks to the marvelous and famous Kelly, who came bumping as “Leven anchors” (George Sidney, 1945) and “A day in New York” (Kelly and Stanley Donen, 1949), “An American in Paris” It was the springboard for him to become a star overnight.
Twice she was nominated for the Oscars as a leading actress: for “Lilí” and for “The indiscreet room” (Bryan Forbes, 1962), shot in Great Britain at a time when she was trying to get out of the box of naive and dancer. For the second film she was considered best actress by the British Film Academy (Bafta Awards).
While so much rolled “The passionate French girl” (Jean Negulesco, 1955), with Fred Astaire, “The glass slipper” (Charles Walters, 1954), “Gaby” (Curtis Bernhardt, 1956), “The doctor’s dilemma” (Anthony Asquith, 1958 ), with Dirk Bogarde, in Great Britain, among other titles in which he still had to act those demure or dancing roles.
The swerve started from “History written in blood” (Abel Gance, 1960), “Fanny” (Joshua Logan, 1961), with Maurice Chevalier and Charles Boyer -shot in France but spoken in English-, and “At the end of the night” (Asquith, 1962), with David Niven, up to “The indiscreet room”, in which she was a pregnant and unmarried young woman who rubbed shoulders with misfits. It was filmed in London, although censorship in Hollywood was already dying.
He also participated in the collective film in episodes “The four truths” (1962), directed by René Clément and in the company of Charles Aznavour in the segment “The two pigeons, and with Cary Grant as the leading man, he starred in” Papá Ganso “(1964), by Ralph Nelson, plus some other title with Rock Hudson before intervening in “Is Paris burning?” (1965), a hyped historical epic by Clément with a massive cast and set during the Nazi occupation.
In 1967, it no longer attracted so many audiences and it was dubbed into Italian to film Nanni Loy’s “Family Guy”, along with Nino Manfredi and Ugo Tognazzi, and with a second-rate cast, although no less effective. -Warren Oates, Charles McGraw, Gloria Grahame- took part in “Chandler” (1971), Paul Magwood’s only work as director, usual assistant director or director of second unit.
Until he had a brief and intense resurgence in the aforementioned “Valentino” (1977), in which Ken Russell had his usual baroque style a biography of the silent film star Rodolfo Valentino (Taranto, Italy, 1895- New York, 1926), where he played the actress and Russian exile Alia Nazimova, who maintained a passionate relationship with the actor and also with his wife Natacha Rambova.
Caron brought out his intense powers of seduction and without nudity or daring scenes, he talentfully displaced the main couple – Rudolf Nureyev and Michelle Phillips – who did strip and have sex but who did not convince about the sincerity of these intimate practices.
In a stage that began to turn gray, he worked for the directors François Truffaut (“The Lover of Love”, 1977), Joseph Sargent (“The Golden Girl”, 1979), Krzysztof Zanussi (“Marriage Contract”, 1980, and “Imperativ”, 1981), Louis Malle (“Once in a lifetime”, 1992), Lasse Hallström (“Chocolate”, 2000), and James Ivory (“French divorce”, 2003), always in minor roles.
An American in Paris, with Gene Kelly
On television he appeared in the series “Carola”, “QB VII”, “Falcon Crest”, “Lenin’s Train” (in Italy), by Damiano Damiani, “The Ring” and an episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit”, in 2006.
In parallel to her work in front of the cameras, the graceful Caron had time to marry in 1951 with a wealthy heir to a food company, whom she replaced by the film director Peter Hall (1957), with whom she had two children and whom He sued her for an extramarital affair with Warren cine- and after the divorce in 1965 he had to pay the costs of the trial.
Her next husband was Michael Laughlin (1969-1980), the penultimate legal bond amid a collection of celebrity romances that were the talk of Hollywood and scandal magazines, before settling in Wisconsin with her new husband, Paul Magwood -the director of “Chandler” – which lasted until 2003.
After that he returned to France and ran an elegant hotel of his own in Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, about 100 kilometers south of Paris.