Tribute to France’s star platinum blonde

Death of Mireille Darc at 79

by Richard Mowe

Mireille Darc as Corinne Durand in Jean-Luc Godard’s Weekend with Jean Yanne (Roland Durand).
Mireille Darc as Corinne Durand in Jean-Luc Godard’s Weekend with Jean Yanne (Roland Durand). Photo: Unifrance
The French actress and model Mireille Darc who was one of the beautiful people of the Sixties and Seventies and a constant companion over many years of Gallic superstar Alain Delon, has died last night (August 27) in Paris, her family have announced.

Mireille Darc: 'When I saw myself a blonde, I realised that it was me'
Mireille Darc: 'When I saw myself a blonde, I realised that it was me' Photo: Unifrance
Darc, who was 79 and who chose her surname as a reference to Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc), was born in Toulon on May 15, 1938 as Mireille Aigroz. She began her career as a model and television presenter before turning to cinema.

Early on, she landed roles in various films, including Jean-Luc Godard’s Weekend (1968), and at the opposite end of the spectrum Ken Annakin’s comedy romp Monte Carlo Or Bust! (1969) with Tony Curtis, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, an intended follow-up to Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines.

She also appeared in Borsalino (1970) alongside Delon. They met on the set of a gangster film Jeff and were together for 15 years. Other titles which ensured she had a high profile in France included: Elle boit pas, elle fume pas, elle drague pas... mais elle cause! (1970) with Annie Girardot and Il Etait une fois un flic (1971) with Delon and Michel Constantin.

She kept working in film throughout the Seventies, starring in Le Grand Blond avec une Chaussure Noire (1972) with Pierre Richard, O K Patron (1973) and Dis-Moi que tu m’aimes (1974). Director Georges Lautner, who made Le Grand Blond, was responsible for her enduring look. He asked that the curly-haired Darc turn herself in to a platinum blonde. “At that moment, when I saw myself a blonde, I realised that it was me, and it really is”, she was quoted as saying.

Mireille Darc
Mireille Darc Photo: Unifrance
She appeared opposite the venerable Jean-Louis Trintignant in a thriller Les Passagers (1977), as well as Mort d'un pourri (1977) and Les Ringards (1978). She also appeared in Si elle dit oui... je ne dis pas non (1983) and the Jean Rochefort drama Reveillon Chez Bob (1984).

Darc's most recent screen appearance was in Bernard Blier's Les Barbouzes (2012).

She suffered a career hiatus at the start of the Eighties when she was involved in a serious car accident en route to a holiday in Italy when doctors had to fight to save her life with open heart surgery. Suffering from bouts of depression she retired from work but then made a comeback in various television series. She also devoted herself to such causes as cancer, the plight of those in prostitution and organ transplants.

She told one interviewer: “I have learned to live alone. I realise that you can enjoy life when there is an all-consuming passion.”

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