Jeanne Moreau

Jeanne Moreau


Birth Place
Paris, , FR
January 23, 1928
July 31, 2017
Cause of Death
Undisclosed Natural Causes


Jeanne Moreau was the sort of talent that could generate hyperbolic labels like "the world's greatest actress," which was how no less an authority than Orson Welles described her. For a half-century, Moreau constantly set the bar for screen performances with her fearless, deeply emotive and passionate turns in such bona fide classics as "Elevator to the Gallows" (1958), "Jules and Jim" (...

Photos & Videos

The Train - Lobby Card Set
Chimes at Midnight - Movie Poster
Diary of a Chambermaid - Movie Poster

Family & Companions

Jean-Louis Richard
Director. Married in 1949; separated c. 1951; divorced.
Louis Malle
Director. Involved in the late 1950s.
Francois Truffaut
Tony Richardson
Director. Involved in the mid-1960s.


She served as president of the French Film Advances Commission from 1993-94.

Served as president of a French screenwriting workshop.


Jeanne Moreau was the sort of talent that could generate hyperbolic labels like "the world's greatest actress," which was how no less an authority than Orson Welles described her. For a half-century, Moreau constantly set the bar for screen performances with her fearless, deeply emotive and passionate turns in such bona fide classics as "Elevator to the Gallows" (1958), "Jules and Jim" (1960), "The Trial" (1961), "Diary of a Chambermaid" (1964), "The Bride Wore Black" (1968), "Querelle" (1982) and countless others. The list of legendary directors who queued up to add her earthy sensuality and versatility to their films included figures like Welles, François Truffaut, Louis Malle, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders, Luc Besson and Tony Richardson. But despite the quality of her performances, Moreau was largely unknown to mass audiences, especially in America, where she was generally regarded as an art house figure. More mainstream moviegoers knew her as Cinderella's great-granddaughter in "Ever After" (1998) than for "Jules and Jim." If the anonymity bothered Moreau, it never showed; she simply continued to give life-affirming performances well into her eighties while dabbling in work behind the camera on several occasions. Moreau was one of the few actresses whose work remained consistently top-notch for the entirety of her career, with bit parts and cameos as well-crafted as her leading roles. In doing so, she cemented her status as one of the cinema's greatest actors. Her death at the age of 89 on July 31, 2017 brought forth international mourning, with French President Emmanuel Macron eulogizing her as a powerful figure who "always rebelled against the established order."

Jeanne Moreau was born Jan. 23, 1928 in Paris, France. Her father, Anatole-Désiré Moreau, was a barman and restaurateur, while her mother, Katherine Buckley, was an English dancer who had come to France to perform with the Folies-Bergére. The family moved to Vichy shortly after Moreau's birth; there, her father operated a small hotel, while his daughter attended Catholic school. Her home life was a difficult one, plagued by her father's excessive drinking and his family's shame over her mother's profession. For a period, she lived with her mother and sister in England, but with the outbreak of World War II, they were required to return to France. There, her father remained at the family home, while Moreau, her mother and sister Michelle were forced to stay in Paris, where they were required to register their whereabouts daily with the occupying Nazi forces. A committed student in her early years, Moreau lost interest in education as she became a teenager, and found her true calling in acting. To her dismay, her father forbade her from pursuing that avenue, but with typical self-determination, she skipped school at 15 to attend a performance of Jean Anouihl's "Antigone." The play convinced her that she needed to become an actor, despite her father's misgivings. A neighbor arranged for Moreau to audition at the Conservatoire National d'Art Dramatique, and within a year's time, she had made her stage debut at the Comédie Francaise.

During this period, Moreau's parents separated, and she remained in France with her father while her mother returned to England with her sister. She also became pregnant with a son, Jérome, by a fellow Conservatoire student, Jean-Louis Richard. They married in 1949, but the marriage soon fell apart due to her theater commitments. That same year, she made her screen debut in "Last Love" (1949), and would subsequently contribute minor roles to largely little-seen films, save for Jacques Becker's noir "Touchez Pas au Grisbi" ("Don't Touch the Loot") (1954) with Jean Gabin. Moreau became the toast of the Parisian theater world with Anna Bonacci's "The Dazzling Hour," in which she played two leading roles. The show was a hit, running for nearly 500 performances, and led to appearances in Jean Cocteau's "The Infernal Machine," then another two-year run in George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion" before tackling Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" for director Peter Brook. Aspiring director Louis Malle saw Moreau in the play and cast her in his feature debut, "Elevator to the Gallows" (1958). A major entry in the growing French New Wave movement, the thriller received stellar review, most notably for Moreau's turn as an alluring but doomed woman entangled in an ill-fated murder plot. The picture helped to make Moreau a star in Europe as well as among art house audiences in America.

Moreau and Malle soon began a personal relationship as well as a professional one, which yielded the controversial "The Lovers" (1958), about a married woman who abandoned her family for an affair with a stranger. The film encountered censorial trouble upon release, which helped its box office profile considerably, but brought an end to her relationship with Malle. For a period, she stayed away from film altogether in order to mourn the end of the romance. But upon meeting director François Truffaut, she suddenly found herself in demand by some of the greatest filmmakers in Europe. Roger Vadim cast her as the malevolent Madame Merteuil in "Dangerous Liasions" (1959), which broadened her international profile considerably. She then filmed a cameo for Truffaut's landmark "The 400 Blows" (1959) before tackling Peter Brook's adaptation of Marguerite Dumas' "Seven Days, Seven Nights" (1960). While filming that picture, her co-star, Jean-Paul Belmondo, invited her son Jérome to take a ride in his sports car. They were involved in a traffic accident that left the boy in a coma for over two weeks. He later recovered in full, but the experience forced Moreau to step away from her hectic filming schedule and devote more time to family.

She returned to filmmaking the following year with Michelangelo Antonioni's "The Night" (1960), but found herself at odds with her unsympathetic character and the film's long shooting schedule. Truffaut soon arrived with the film that would make her an international star: "Jules and Jim" (1960), with Oskar Werner and Henri Serre as lifelong friends who fall for the same woman (Moreau). Another landmark French New Wave film, "Jules and Jim" cemented Moreau's screen image as the thinking man's object of desire, alternately bewitching and innocent. Moreau became involved briefly with Truffaut before engaging in a whirlwind, five-year romance with designer Pierre Cardin, who made her his chief model. During this period, she continued to play emotionally complex women with some of the world's leading directors, including Luis Bunuel, who cast her as the lead in "Diary of a Chambermaid" (1964), and Orson Welles, who brought her to his adaptations of Franz Kafka's "The Trial" (1961) and "Chimes at Midnight" (1966), based on Shakespeare's Falstaff character. She also began working in English-language films, including Anthony Asquith's all-star "The Yellow Rolls-Royce" (1964) and John Frankenheimer's "The Train" (1964), though none of these pictures matched the acclaim of her European efforts.

In 1966, Moreau became involved with director Tony Richardson, who cast her in the highly controversial "Mademoiselle" (1966) as a psychotic schoolteacher who wreaked havoc in her small village. Pilloried in the press for its perverse sexuality, the couple nonetheless reconvened for "The Sailor from Gibraltar," with Welles and Richardson's wife, Vanessa Redgrave, who soon divorced him over his affair with Moreau. The actress' relationship with Pierre Cardin had also come to an end, and for a period, she drifted through various continental projects, none of tremendous consequence, before reuniting with Truffaut for "The Bride Wore Black" (1969), a thriller about a vengeful woman who hunted down and killed the men responsible for her husband's death. She soon set to work on Welles' "The Deep," which ground to a halt due to financial difficulties, as well as the death of its leading man, Laurence Harvey.

In the wake of the collapse of "The Deep," Moreau retreated to her home in southern France to care for her ailing father and concentrate on her singing career. Her retirement, however, was short-lived. By 1970, she was back onscreen in the American Western "Monte Walsh" (1970). Another period of intense moviemaking soon followed, with turns in Paul Mazursky's "Alex in Wonderland" (1970), "The Little Theatre of Jean Renoir" (1970), which marked the master filmmaker's final turn behind the camera; "Going Places" (1974) with Gerard Depardieu; and "The Last Tycoon" (1975) with Robert De Niro. She paused briefly that year to make her own directorial debut with "Lumiere" (1975), a drama about a week in the lives of four actresses of different ages. It received solid reviews, and she would return to more acting for Joseph Losey in "Mr. Klein" (1976) with Alain Delon before taking her second turn as director with 1979's "The Adolescent," a coming-of-age story set in France prior to World War II.

During this time, Moreau had married director William Friedkin and moved to Los Angeles. Their respective schedules soon brought the union to a close and they divorced after only a year. Moreau dove into completing her second film, and then retired to a small Paris apartment, where she again declared herself retired. In 1982, German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder lured her back into the spotlight for his controversial "Querelle" (1982). The director died shortly after finishing the film, and Moreau was left to field numerous questions and complaints about the picture's explicit homosexual content. Moreau devoted the next four years to travel and forming her own production company, Capella, which made a number of television features in the early and mid 1980s. The decade also marked the 25th and 30th anniversaries of some of her great early efforts, which spurred numerous international tributes and film festivals devoted to Moreau's career.

As she entered her sixth decade, Moreau soon found herself busier than ever, playing supporting roles in Jean-Pierre Mocky's satire "The Miracle" (1987) and a small but significant role as a government official who transformed Anne Parillaud's street criminal into an assassin in Luc Besson's "Nikita" (1990). The following year, she essayed another important bit part as a blind woman who regained her sight in Wim Wenders' "Until the End of the World" (1991) before earning a Cesar as a former society beauty-turned-con artist in "The Old Lady Who Walked in the Sea" (1992). Moreau's seventh decade found her working at a pace that would tire actresses half her age. There were reunions with Antonioni for "Beyond the Clouds" (1995) and a leading role in Ismail Merchant's "The Proprietor" (1996). Her turn in 1998's "Ever After" as an elderly royal who was revealed to be the granddaughter of Cinderella was perhaps the single film in her C.V. seen by the widest audience, save for "Love Actually" (2003), which featured her in a brief cameo. Not content to rest on her laurels in her eighth decade, the new millennium saw Moreau adding opera and television commercials to her growing directorial credits while continuing to act, most notably in "Gebo and the Shadow" (2012) for centenarian director Manoel de Oliveria. Her final screen role came in Ilmar Raag's "Une estonienne à Paris" (2012), after which she went into a quiet retirement. Jeanne Moreau died on July 31, 2017 at her home in Paris. She was 89.



Director (Feature Film)

Lillian Gish (1983)
The Adolescent (1978)
Lumiere (1976)

Cast (Feature Film)

Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles (2014)
Une Estonienne à Paris (2012)
A Lady in Paris (2012)
The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness (2009)
Carmel (2009)
Kerity la maison des contes (2009)
Face (2009)
One Day You'll Understand (2008)
Everywhere At Once (2008)
Disengagement (2007)
Go West (2006)
Time To Leave (2005)
Francois Truffaut, An Autobiography (2004)
Cet Amour-La (2001)
Marguerite Duras
Lisa (2001)
Lisa Morain (Old)
Il Manoscritto del principe (2000)
Princess Di Lampedusa
Fassbinder's Women (2000)
Zaide (1999)
Anna Sherman
I Love You, I Love You Not (1997)
Amour et Confusions (1997)
Mme Libra
Witch Way Love (1997)
The Proprietor (1996)
The Good, The Bad And The Beautiful (1995)
Beyond the Clouds (1995)
One Hundred and One Nights (1995)
The Universe of Jacques Demy (1995)
A Foreign Field (1994)
The Absence (1993)
Wife Of The Old Man
My Name Is Victor (1993)
The Summer House (1992)
The Lover (1992)
Voice Of Marguerite Duras
Map of the Human Heart (1992)
A demain (1992)
Anna Karamazoff (1991)
The Architecture Of Doom (1991)
The Old Lady Who Walked in the Sea (1991)
Lady M
The Suspended Step of the Stork (1991)
Until the End of the World (1991)
La Femme fardee (1990)
La Femme Nikita (1990)
Alberto Express (1990)
The Baroness
Jour apres jour (1989)
With Orson Welles: Stories From A Life (1989)
La Nuit de l'ocean (1988)
Hotel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie (1988)
Calling the Shots (1988)
Le Miracule (1987)
Le Paltoquet (1986)
Sauve-toi, Lola (1986)
Francois Simon - La Presence (1986)
Plein Sud (1984)
Cote Coeur, Cote Jardin (1984)
Lady With Little Dog
Jean-Louis Barrault - A Man of the Theater (1984)
Lillian Gish (1983)
L' Arbre (1983)
The Wizard of Babylon (1982)
Querelle (1982)
La Truite (1982)
Mille milliards de dollars (1981)
Finishing Touch (1981)
The Last Tycoon (1976)
Lumiere (1976)
Sarah Dedieu
Mr. Klein (1976)
Souvenirs d'en France (1975)
Hu-Man (1975)
Le Jardin Qui Bascule (1975)
Going Places (1974)
Joanna Francesa (1973)
Joanna Francesca (1973)
Je t'aime (1973)
Elisa Boussac
Race des "Seigneurs," La (1973)
Chere Louise (1972)
Nathalie Granger (1972)
L' Humeur Vagabonde (1971)
Comptes A Rebours (1971)
Alex in Wonderland (1970)
Monte Walsh (1970)
Martine Bernard
The Immortal Story (1969)
Virginie Ducrot
The Little Theatre of Jean Renoir (1969)
Singer ("Le Belle Epoque"/"The Good Days")
Great Catherine (1968)
The Bride Wore Black (1968)
Julie Kohler
The Oldest Profession (1968)
The Sailor From Gibraltar (1967)
Mata Hari, Agent H-21 (1967)
Mata Hari
Mademoiselle (1966)
The Train (1965)
The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1965)
Marchioness of Frinton
Banana Peel (1965)
Chimes at Midnight (1965)
Doll Tearsheet
Diary of a Chambermaid (1965)
Viva Maria (1965)
Maria I
A Woman Is a Woman (1964)
Woman in bar
The Fire Within (1964)
Bay of the Angels (1964)
Jackie Demaistre
Eva (1964)
Eva Olivier
Moderato cantabile (1964)
Anne Desbaredes
The Victors (1963)
The Trial (1963)
Miss Burstner
La notte (1962)
Jules and Jim (1962)
Les liaisons dangereuses (1961)
Juliette de Merteuil
Five Branded Women (1960)
The Carmelites (1960)
Back to the Wall (1959)
The 400 Blows (1959)
Elevator to the Gallows (1958)
Florence Carala
The Lovers (1958)
Jeanne Tournier
Echec au porteur (1958)
Louves, Les (1957)
Grisbi (1954)
La Reine Margot (1954)
Julietta (1953)
Rosie Facibey
Avignon, bastion de la Provence (1951)
Meurtres (1950)

Writer (Feature Film)

The Adolescent (1978)
Lumiere (1976)

Producer (Feature Film)

Lillian Gish (1983)

Music (Feature Film)

Querelle (1982)
Song Performer ("Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves")
Alex in Wonderland (1970)

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Francois Truffaut, An Autobiography (2004)
Fassbinder's Women (2000)
The Universe of Jacques Demy (1995)
Calling the Shots (1988)
Jean-Louis Barrault - A Man of the Theater (1984)
Lillian Gish (1983)

Cast (Special)

The American Film Institute Salute to Lillian Gish (1984)

Cast (Short)

Henri Matisse ou Le talent du bonheur (1961)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Les Miserables (2001)
Balzac: A Life of Passion (1999)
Catherine the Great (1996)

Life Events


Acted with the Theatre National Populaire


Returned to the stage after many years to act in "La chevauchee sur le lac de Constance/The Ride Across Lake Constance"


Served as president of the jury of the 28th International Cannes Film Festival


Directed her second feature, "L'Adolescente"


Founded production company Capella Films


Earliest TV work included the French-made "L'arbre" and the British-made "Vicious Circle"


Narrated "Hotel Terminus: Klaus Barbie, His Life and Times"


Starred in "The Summer House," renewing interest of American audience


Starred in TV film "A Foreign Field" (PBS)


Named as president of the jury of the 48th International Cannes Film Festival


Cast in François Ozon's "Time to Leave"


Starred in the drama "One Day You'll Understand"

Photo Collections

The Train - Lobby Card Set
The Train - Lobby Card Set
Chimes at Midnight - Movie Poster
Chimes at Midnight - Movie Poster
Diary of a Chambermaid - Movie Poster
Diary of a Chambermaid - Movie Poster
Elevator to the Gallows - Movie Poster
Elevator to the Gallows - Movie Poster
Jules and Jim - Movie Poster
Jules and Jim - Movie Poster


Movie Clip

Elevator To The Gallows (1958) -- (Movie Clip) He Got Cold Feet Paris teens Louis (Georges Poujouly) and Veronique (Yori Bertin) snatch the car belonging to Julien, who's stuck in an elevator, as his lover and murder accomplice Florence (Jeanne Moreau) waits nearby, in Louis Malle's Elevator To The Gallows, 1958.
Elevator To The Gallows (1958) -- (Movie Clip) Then We'll Be Free Director Louis Malle's famous close up of Jeanne Moreau (as "Florence") in the film that made her a star, on the phone with lover Julien (Maurice Ronet), Miles Davis' score creeping in, opening Elevator To The Gallows, 1958.
Train, The (1965) -- (Movie Clip) There's A War French rail inspector Labiche (Burt Lancaster) scurries back from some sabotage work, encounters innkeeper Christine (Jeanne Moreau) whom he's just met, German Colonel von Waldheim (Paul Scofield) and aide Schmidt (Jean Bouchaud) getting stonewalled, in John Frankenheimer's The Train, 1965.
Querelle (1982) -- (Movie Clip) My Hate Was Simply A Camouflage The tensions growing between the brothers, sailor Querelle (Brad Davis) and bon vivant Robert (Hanno Pöschl), with intense profanity, as director Rainer Werner Fassbinder adds other characters (Jeanne Moreau, Franco Nero) in an unprompted procession of Christ bearing the cross, and choreographed combat, in Querelle, 1982.
Querelle (1982) -- (Movie Clip) Open, Based On Querelle De Brest The extraordinary opening from director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s final, posthumously released, film, with narration from the Jean Genet novel, introducing Jeanne Moreau, Hanno Pöschl as her lover, Günther Kaufmann her husband, a glimpse of Franco Nero, then Brad Davis as the title character, in Querelle, 1982.
Querelle (1982) -- (Movie Clip) The Two Brothers Resuming the narration from the loosely-followed Jean Genet novel, director Rainer Werner Fassbinder brings his title character (Brad Davis) into the highly stylized brothel, meeting the proprietor Jeanne Moreau, his brother Hanno Pöschl, her husband, the barkeeper Günther Kaufmann and the cop Mario (Burkhard Driest), in Querelle, 1982.
La Notte (1961) -- (Movie Clip) That What You Did Was Vile? Giovanni (Marcello Mastroianni) confesses his sexual liaison just minutes earlier with a stranger, to his unimpressed wife Lidia (Jeanne Moreau), en route to a party marking publication of his new novel, in Michelangelo Antonioni's drama of alienation, La Notte, 1962.
La Notte (1961) -- (Movie Clip) It Would Be Pointless Joining director Michelangelo Antonioni's deliberate opening, we meet hospitalized Tomasso (Bernhard Wicki) , Giovanni and Lidia (Marcello Mastroainni, Jeanne Moreau) completing their progress through Milan, interrupted by a neighbor (Maria Pia Luzi), in La Notte, 1962.
La Notte (1961) -- (Movie Clip) Every Millionaire Wants His Own Intellectual Director Michelangelo Antonioni makes clear how desperately bored his principals, writer Giovanni (Marcello Mastroianni) and wife Lidia (Jeanne Moreau), are with their lives and each other, barely able to decide whether to attend an upper-crust Milan party, in La Notte, 1962.
Jules And Jim (1962) -- (Movie Clip) Opening, I'm Therese Exuberant opening to Francois Truffaut's third film, Jules and Jim, 1962, in which Jules (Oskar Werner), Jim (Henri Serre) and Therese (Marie Dubois) are introduced in Paris, 1912.
Jules and Jim (1962) -- (Movie Clip) And A French Girl Early 1900's, college pals German Jules (Oskar Werner) and French Jim (Henri Serre) discover a statue while vacationing in Greece, return to Paris, then meet a girl, Catherine (Jeanne Moreau) in Francois Truffaut's Jules and Jim, 1962.
Jules And Jim (1962) -- (Movie Clip) She's A Vision For All Continuing the narration by Michel Subor, on their beach holiday in the early 1900's, Jules (Oskar Werner), Jim (Henri Serre) and Catherine (Jeanne Moreau) enjoy the woods, the beach and talk of marriage in Francois Truffaut's Jules and Jim, 1962.



Anatole Moreau
Katherine Buckley
Dancer. Born in Lancashire, England; danced in the Folies Bergere; after parents separated in the late 1940s, Moreau's mother returned to England.
Jerome Richard
From first marriage.


Jean-Louis Richard
Director. Married in 1949; separated c. 1951; divorced.
Louis Malle
Director. Involved in the late 1950s.
Francois Truffaut
Tony Richardson
Director. Involved in the mid-1960s.
Teodora Rubanis
Divorced in 1977.
William Friedkin
Director. Married in 1977; divorced in 1980.



She served as president of the French Film Advances Commission from 1993-94.

Served as president of a French screenwriting workshop.

Moreau was announced to play the recurring guest role of the mother of Dr. Elizabeth Corday on the NBC series "ER" beginning in 2000. She arrived for the first day of shooting but left over "creative differences".

"She's very strong and very fragile. Both, and very fast. Strong, and a minute later a fragility." --Anna Praedella, Moreau's housekeeper, to THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 6, 1996

"The one essential quality that defines Jeanne is courage... She is not a gentle person. She's violent, extreme." --longtime friend Florence Malraux o THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 6, 1996

"I am my past, I am my present, and I carry my future within me. You can't stay put; the world is constantly changing. I'm open to anything--and that's how I've met so many beautiful people and had so many incredible experiences." --Jeanne Moreau in LOS ANGELES TIMES, October 6, 1996

"Acting is a craft, and the more you age, the better you are, the better you can express deep feelings." --Moreau to DAILY NEWS, February 23, 1994