Zizi Jeanmaire

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Zizi Jeanmaire
Zizi Jeanmaire (1963).jpg
Zizi Jeanmaire (1963)
Renée Marcelle Jeanmaire

(1924-04-29) 29 April 1924 (age 95)
Paris, France
ResidenceGeneva, Switzerland
OccupationDancer, actress
Years active1949–1982
Spouse(s)Roland Petit
(1954-2011; his death)

Zizi Jeanmaire (born Renée Marcelle Jeanmaire 29 April 1924) is a French ballet dancer and the widow of renowned dancer and choreographer Roland Petit. She became famous in the 1950s after playing the title role in the ballet Carmen, produced in London in 1949, and went on to appear in several Hollywood films.


Born Renée Marcelle Jeanmaire in Paris, she met her future husband and long-time collaborator Roland Petit at the Paris Opera Ballet at the age of nine. She joined his company, Petit's Ballets de Paris, in 1949. In 1954 they married, and their successful shows put her on the road to stardom. This led to a brief stint in Hollywood (where she was credited simply as Jeanmaire), appearing in the musicals Hans Christian Andersen (1952) and Anything Goes (1956). After that, she concentrated on ballet, producing more than 60 shows with Petit. From the 1960s on, she also had a career in music with such hits as "Mon truc en plumes".[1]

Her notoriety and fame garnered her more press attention, even at fashion shows, where she was given front-row seating. At one fashion show for Yves Saint Laurent in 1967, Jeanmaire was prominently seated alongside Elsa Martinelli, Françoise Hardy, and Catherine Deneuve. Almost 50 years later, Vogue magazine would look back at Jeanmaire and her peers as representing a guidepost of fashion week celebrity culture.[2]

Personal life[edit]

She and Petit had one daughter, Valentine Petit, a dancer and actress.[3][4]

Jeanmaire is mentioned in the lyrics of the song by Peter Sarstedt, "Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?", in the first line: "You talk like Marlene Dietrich, and you dance like Zizi Jeanmaire / Your clothes are all made by Balmain and there's diamonds and pearls in your hair".[5]

She is also mentioned in the lyrics of the song by Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, "Nothing is Sacred", from their album Timeless Flight: "I said: "Zizi Jeanmaire wouldn't take this and neither will we / if they call me Napoleon again I'll be forced to let the lion free".[6]


Theater credits[edit]


  1. ^ "Obituary for Roland Petit". The Daily Telegraph. 12 July 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  2. ^ Yotka, Steff (9 February 2016). "Barbra Streisand, Sofia Coppola, Catherine Deneuve, and More Throwback Front Row Snaps From Fashion Week". Vogue.
  3. ^ Kisselgoff, Anna (20 March 2014). "Obituary for Roland Petit". The New York Times. p. B8.
  4. ^ Photo (Jeanmaire and daughter), corbisimages.com; accessed 20 March 2014.
  5. ^ "Where Do You Go To / My Lovely Lyrics". MetroLyrics. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  6. ^ Steve Harley. "Nothing Is Sacred Lyrics". Retrieved 30 June 2019.


  • Zizi. Zizi Jeanmaire with Gérard Mannoni (2002), Paris: Assouline, 2002, 147 pages (French); ISBN 2-84323-389-5

External links[edit]