Jean-Paul Belmondo

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For other people with the same name, see Belmondo (disambiguation).
Jean-Paul Belmondo
Jean-Paul Belmondo 2013 3.jpg
Belmondo in 2013
Born Jean-Paul Charles Belmondo
(1933-04-09) 9 April 1933 (age 83)
Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Other names Bebel
Occupation Actor
Spouse(s) Elodie Constantin (1952–1967)
Natty Belmondo (2002–2008)
Partner(s) Ursula Andress (1965–1972)
Laura Antonelli (1972–1980)
Awards Best Actor
1989 Itinéraire d'un enfant gâté

Jean-Paul Belmondo (French: [ʒɑ̃pɔl bɛlmɔ̃do]; born 9 April 1933) is a French actor initially associated with the New Wave of the 1960s.


Early Life[edit]

Belmondo was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, west of Paris, the son of successful sculptor.[1]

Belmondo did not perform well in school, but developed a passion for boxing and football. Belmondo made his amateur boxing debut on 10 May 1949 in Paris, France, when he knocked out Rene DesMarais in one round. Belmondo's boxing career was undefeated, but brief. He won three straight first round knockout victories from 1949 to 1950.[2]


Belmondo studied acting at the Conservatoire. He would likely have won the prize for best actor but participated in a sketch mocking the school, which offended the jury and resulted in him only getting an honourable mention, "which nearly set off a riot among his incensed fellow students" according to one report.[1]

Belmondo began appearing in various theatre productions in Paris.


His breakthrough role was in Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (1960), which made him a major figure in the French New Wave.

In 1961 the New York Times called him "the most impressive young French actor since the advent of the late Gerard Philippe."[3]

He co-starred with Sophia Loren in Two Women. "It may disappoint those who've got me typed," said Belmondo. "But so much the better."[1]

Later he acted in Jean-Pierre Melville's philosophical movie Leon Morin, Priest (1961) and in Melville's film noir crime film The Fingerman (Le Doulos, 1963) and Godard again with Pierrot le fou (1965).

A 1965 profile compared him to Humphrey Bogart and James Dean.[4] It stated Belmondo was:

A later manifestation of youthful rejection... His disengagement from a society his parents made is total. He accepts corruption with a cynical smile, not even bothering to struggle. He is out entirely for himself, to get whatever he can, while he can. The Belmondo type is capable of anything. He knows he is defeated anyway... He represents something tough yet vulnerable, laconic but intense, notably lacking in neuroses or or the stumbling insecurities of homus Americanus. He is the man of the moment, completely capable of taking care of himself - and ready to take on the girl of the moment too. [4]

With That Man From Rio (1964) he switched to commercial, mainstream productions, mainly comedies and action films but did appear in the title role of Alain Resnais' masterpiece Stavisky (1974), which some critics regard as Belmondo's finest performance.


After making The Thief of Paris (1967) for Louis Malle, Belmondo took a year and a half off. "One day it seemed that life was passing me by," he said. "I didn't want to work. So I stopped. Then one day I felt like starting again. So I started."[5]

He returned to filmmaking with the crime movie, Ho! (1968), then had a massive hit with a comedy co-starring David Niven, The Brain (1969). More prestiguous was Mississippi Mermaid (1969) for Francois Truffaut with Catherine Deneuve.

"What intellectuals don't like is success," said Belmondo. "Success in France is always looked down on, not by the public, but by intellectuals. If I'm nude in a film, that's fine for the intellectuals. But if I jump from a helicopter, they think it's terrible."[6]

Until the mid-1980s, when he ceased to be one of France's biggest box-office stars, Belmondo's typical characters were either dashing adventurers or more cynical heroes. As he grew older, Belmondo preferred concentrating on his stage work, where he encountered success.

In 1987 he returned to the theatre after a 26 year absence in a production of Kean, adapted by Jean Paul Satre from the novel by Alexander Dumas. "I did theater for ten years before going into movies and every year I planned to go back," he recalled. "I returned before I became an old man."[6] Kean was a hit, running for a year. In 1990 he played the title role in Cyrano de Bergerac on the stage in Paris, another highly successful production.[6]

Belmondo claimed there were "several reasons" why he made less films in the 1980s. "I'm now a producer so it takes time to organise things," he said. "But it's also difficult to find good screenplays in France. We have serious writing problems here. And I'd prefer to do theater for a long time than take on a mediocre film."[6]

Later Career[edit]

He suffered a stroke in 2001 and had since been absent from the stage and the screen until 2009 when he appeared in Un homme et son chien (A man and his dog).


He was made Chevalier (Knight) of the Ordre national du Mérite, promoted Officier (Officer) in 1986 and promoted Commandeur (Commander) in 1994.[7]

He was made Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d'honneur, promoted Officier (Officer) in 1991 and promoted Commandeur (Commander) in 2007.[8]

In 2010 the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards gave him a Career Achievement award.[9] Belmondo attended the ceremony and made appearances in the Los Angeles area.

Personal life[edit]

Belmondo's father, Paul Belmondo, was a Pied-Noir sculptor who was born in Algeria of Italian descent, whose parents were of Sicilian and Piedmontese origin.[10][11][12][13]

From 1952 to 1967,[14] Belmondo was married to Élodie Constantin, with whom he had three children: Patricia (1954–1994), who was killed in a fire, Florence (born 1958) and Paul (born 1963).

He had relationships with Ursula Andress from 1965 to 1972,[15] and Laura Antonelli between 1972 and 1980.[16]

In 1989, Belmondo met Nathalie Tardivel, who was 24 at the time; they officially married in 2002. On 13 August 2003, his fourth child, Stella Eva Angelina, was born. He was 70 at the time. In 2008, Belmondo and Tardivel divorced.


Cultural references[edit]

  • Belmondo is saluted in a 1967 episode of the U.S. television sitcom Get Smart. In the episode "The Spirit is Willing" a top agent of the sinister spy agency KAOS is named Paul John Mondebello, an obvious alteration of Belmondo's name.[17] He is also mentioned in a song about "Masculinity" in the play La Cage Aux Folles, and is mentioned in the Donovan song "Sunny South Kensington" on the Mellow Yellow album. A poster of him as "A bad guy, a good-looking bad guy" is in Rachel's apartment in "The Light of Day" by Graham Swift. In 1968 a Yugoslavian quartet "Kvartet 4M" recorded a song "Bebel"[18] about him.

The book "Youth in Revolt" by author C.D. Payne and its sequels refer to Belmondo several times and at one point feature the main character going to Mexico and getting plastic surgery in order to resemble Belmondo.

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Director
1959 Charlotte et son Jules ("Charlotte and Her Boyfriend") Jean Jean-Luc Godard
À double tour ("Web of Passion") Laszlo Kovacs Claude Chabrol
1960 À bout de souffle ("Breathless") Michel Poiccard Jean-Luc Godard
Classe tous risques ("The Big Risk") Eric Stark Claude Sautet
Moderato cantabile ("Seven Days... Seven Nights") Chauvin Peter Brook
Lettere di una novizia Giuliano Verdi Alberto Lattuada
La Ciociara ("Two Women") Michele de Libero Vittorio De Sica
1961 La Viaccia ("The Lovemakers") Amerigo Mauro Bolognini
Léon Morin, prêtre ("Léon Morin, Priest") Léon Morin Jean-Pierre Melville
Une femme est une femme ("A Woman Is a Woman") Alfred Lubitsch Jean-Luc Godard
Un nommé La Rocca (fr) ("A Man Named Rocca") Roberto La Rocca Jean Becker
1962 Le Doulos ("The Finger Man") Silien Jean-Pierre Melville
Cartouche Louis Dominique Bourguignon Philippe de Broca
Un singe en hiver ("A Monkey in Winter") Gabriel Fouquet Henri Verneuil
Un cœur gros comme ça (documentary "The Winner") as himself François Reichenbach
1963 Mare matto ("Crazy Sea") Il Livornese Renato Castellani
Peau de banane ("Banana Peel") Michel Thibault Marcel Ophüls
Dragées au poivre ("Sweet and Sour") Raymond Jacques Baratier
L'Aîné des Ferchaux ("Magnet of Doom") Michel Maudet Jean-Pierre Melville
Il giorno più corto ("The Shortest Day") Erede Siciliano Sergio Corbucci
1964 L'Homme de Rio ("That Man from Rio") Adrien Dufourquet Philippe de Broca
Cent mille dollars au soleil ("Greed in the Sun") Rocco Henri Verneuil
Échappement libre (fr) ("Backfire") David Ladislas Jean Becker
Week-end à Zuydcoote ("Weekend at Dunkirk") Julien Maillat Henri Verneuil
La Chasse à l'homme (fr) ("Male Hunt", "The Gentle Art of Seduction") Fernand Édouard Molinaro
1965 Par un beau matin d'été ("Crime on a Summer Morning") Francis Jacques Deray
Pierrot le fou Pierrot (Ferdinand Griffon) Jean-Luc Godard
Les Tribulations d'un Chinois en Chine ("Up to His Ears") Arthur Lempereur Philippe de Broca
1966 Tendre Voyou (fr) ("Tender Scoundrel") Antoine Maréchal Jean Becker
Paris brûle-t-il? ("Is Paris Burning?") Pierrelot - Yvon Morandat René Clément
1967 Casino Royale French Leggionnaire Ken Hughes, John Huston and others
Le Voleur ("The Thief of Paris") Georges Randal Louis Malle
1968 Ho! François Holin Robert Enrico
1969 Le Cerveau ("The Brain") Arthur Lespinasse Gérard Oury
La Sirène du Mississippi ("Mississippi Mermaid") Louis Mahé François Truffaut
Un homme qui me plaît ("Love Is a Funny Thing") Henri Claude Lelouch
1970 Borsalino François Capella Jacques Deray
1971 Les Mariés de l'an II ("The Married Couple of the Year Two") Nicolas Philibert Jean-Paul Rappeneau
Le Casse ("The Burglars") Azad Henri Verneuil
1972 Dr. Popaul Le docteur Paul Simay Claude Chabrol
La Scoumoune Roberto Borgo José Giovanni
1973 L'Héritier ("The Inheritor") Bart Cordell Philippe Labro
Le Magnifique François Merlin / Bob Saint-Clar Philippe de Broca
1974 Stavisky Alexandre Stavisky Alain Resnais
1975 L'Incorrigible ("Incorrigible") Victor Vauthier Philippe de Broca
Peur sur la ville ("Fear over the city") Jean Letellier Henri Verneuil
1976 L'Alpagueur Roger Pilard ("L'Alpagueur") Philippe Labro
Le Corps de mon ennemi ("Body of My Enemy") François Leclercq Henri Verneuil
1977 L'Animal ("Animal") Mike Gaucher / Bruno Ferrari Claude Zidi
1979 Flic ou voyou ("Cop or Hood") Antonio Cerutti / Stanislas Borowitz Georges Lautner
1980 Le Guignolo Alexandre Dupré Georges Lautner
1981 Le Professionnel ("The Professional") Josselin Beaumont, a.k.a. "Joss" Georges Lautner
1982 L'As des as ("Ace of Aces") Jo Cavalier Gérard Oury
1983 Le Marginal Philippe Jordan Jacques Deray
1984 Les Morfalous Pierre Augagneur Henri Verneuil
Joyeuses Pâques ("Happy Easter") Stéphane Margelle Georges Lautner
1985 Hold-up Grimm Alexandre Arcady
1987 Le Solitaire Stan Jalard Jacques Deray
1988 Itinéraire d'un enfant gâté Sam Lion Claude Lelouch
1995 Les Cent et Une Nuits de Simon Cinéma ("A Hundred and One Nights") Professeur Bébel Agnès Varda
Les Misérables Henri Fortin / Jean Valjean Claude Lelouch
1996 Désiré Désiré Bernard Murat
1998 Une chance sur deux Léo Brassac Patrice Leconte
1999 Peut-être Ako Cédric Klapisch
2000 Les Acteurs Himself Bertrand Blier
2009 Un homme et son chien ("A Man and His Dog") Charles Francis Huster

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Schneider, PE (7 May 1961). New York Times. p. SM84.  Text "'A Punk With Charm': That role has made Belmondo a new rage." ignored (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^
  3. ^ Thompson, Howard (25 February 1961). "Jean-Paul Belmondo Displays Talent for a Variety of Roles: French Actor in 'Breathless' Is Slated to Depict Priest, Gigolo, Mountaineer and Factory Worker in New Films". New York Times. p. 12. 
  4. ^ a b Archer, Eugene (6 June 1965). "The Bogart of the 'Sixties". New York Times. p. X11. 
  5. ^ Blume, Mary (17 April 1968). "Belmondo Back on Film-Making Scene". Los Angeles Times. p. d12. 
  6. ^ a b c d Riding, Alan (14 March 1990). "Belmondo Revels in Playing Cyrano in Paris: The archetypal hood plays a poet to sold-out houses.". New York Times. p. C13. 
  7. ^ "Décret du 14 mai 1994 portant promotion et nomination". JORF. 1994 (112): 7102. 15 May 1994. PREX9410898D. Retrieved 14 March 2009. 
  8. ^ "Décret du 6 avril 2007 portant promotion". JORF. 2007 (84): 6582. 8 April 2007. PREX0710141D. Retrieved 14 March 2009. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Bébel – Jean-Paul Belmondo Fanlisting
  11. ^ Famous French people of immigrant origin, Eupedia : France Guide
  12. ^ "Belmondo : "J'aimerais bien rejouer"". Le Parisien. 9 April 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  13. ^ Beaucarnot, Jean-Louis; Dumoulin, Frédéric. Dictionnaire étonnant des célébrités. EDI8. ISBN 978-2754070522. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  14. ^ Thomas Riggs (2000). Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television, Volume 31. Gale / Cengage Learning. p. 25. ISBN 0787646369. 
  15. ^ Earl Wilson (16 July 1972). It Happened Last Night. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
  16. ^ Mort de Laura Antonelli, star italienne des années 1970 et ex-femme de Jean-Paul Belmondo AlloCiné; 22 June 2015.
  17. ^ The Complete Get Smart Guide – Episode Guides – Third Season
  18. ^

External links[edit]