Delphine Seyrig

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Delphine Seyrig
Delphine Seyrig.jpg
Born Delphine Claire Beltiane Seyrig
(1932-04-10)April 10, 1932
Beirut, French Lebanon
Died October 15, 1990(1990-10-15) (aged 58)
Paris, France
Children Duncan Youngerman

Delphine Claire Beltiane Seyrig (French: [sɛʁiɡ]; April 10, 1932 – October 15, 1990) was a stage and film actress and a film director.

Early life[edit]

Seyrig was the daughter of archaeologist Henri Seyrig and Hermine de Saussure, sister of the composer Francis Seyrig. She grew up in Lebanon and her family moved to New York when she was 10 years old. When her parents returned to Lebanon in the late 1940s, she was sent to school at the Le Collège-Lycée Cévenol International, a unique secondary school in Haute-Loire, France, which had been founded by Protestant pacifists and social justice activists ten years earlier in 1938. Seyrig attended Cévenol from 1947 to 1950.


As a young woman, Seyrig studied acting at Comédie de Saint-Étienne, training under Jean Dasté, and at Centre Dramatique de l'Est. She appeared briefly in small roles in TV series Sherlock Holmes. In 1956, she returned to New York and studied at the Actors Studio. In 1958 she appeared in her first film, Pull My Daisy. In New York she met the director Alain Resnais, who asked her to star in his film, Last Year at Marienbad. Her performance brought her international recognition and she moved to Paris. Among her roles of this period is the older married woman in François Truffaut's Baisers volés (1968).

During the sixties and seventies, Seyrig worked with such directors as François Truffaut, Luis Buñuel, Marguerite Duras, and Fred Zinnemann, as well as Alain Resnais. She achieved recognition for both her stage and film work, and was named best actress at the Venice Film Festival for her role in Resnais' Muriel ou Le temps d'un retour (1963). She played many diverse roles, and because she was fluent in French, English and German, she appeared in films in all three languages, including a number of Hollywood productions. She may be most widely known for her role as Colette de Montpelier in Zinnemann's 1973 film Day of the Jackal. In turn, perhaps Seyrig's most demanding role was in Chantal Akerman's 1976 film Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, in which she was required to adopt a highly restrained, rigorously minimalistic mode of acting to convey the mindset of the title character.

Throughout her career, Seyrig used her celebrity status to promote women's rights. The most important of the three films she directed was the 1977 Sois belle et tais-toi (Be Pretty and Shut Up) that included actresses Shirley MacLaine, Maria Schneider, and Jane Fonda, speaking frankly about the level of sexism they had to deal with in film industry.

In 1982 Seyrig was the key member of the group that established the Paris-based "Centre Audiovisuel Simone de Beauvoir", which maintains a large archive of women's filmed and recorded work and produces work by and about women. In 1989, Seyrig was given a festival tribute at Créteil International Women's Film Festival, France.

Private life[edit]

Seyrig married (and was later divorced from) American painter Jack Youngerman (b. 1926), who had studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Their son, Duncan Youngerman (b. 1956, Paris), is a renowned musician and composer in both France and the US.[citation needed]

Seyrig died in Paris in 1990, aged 58, apparently from lung cancer (although some sources simply state "lung disease"). She was interred there in Cimetière du Montparnasse.

Filmography (actress)[edit]

Filmography (director)[edit]


  • Adapted from the article Delphine Seyrig, from Wikinfo, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license and the GFDL.

External links[edit]