Annie Girardot (25 October 1931 – 28 February 2011) was a three-time César Award winning French Actress. She often played strong-willed, independent, hard-working, and often lonely women, imbuing her characters with an earthiness and reality that endeared her to women undergoing similar daily struggles.
After graduating from the prestigious Conservatoire de la rue Blanche in 1954 with two First Prizes in Modern and Classical Comedy, she joined the Comédie Française, where she was a resident actor from 1954-57.
In 1955, she began her film career, making her film debut in Treize à table, but it was with theatre that she started to attract the attention of critics. Her performance in Jean Cocteau's play La Machine à écrire in 1956 was admired by the author who called her "The finest dramatic temperament of the Postwar period". In 1958, Luchino Visconti directed her opposite Jean Marais in a French stage adaptation of william Gibson's Two for the Seesaw.
In 1956, she was awarded the Prix Suzanne Bianchetti as best up-and-coming young Actress, but only with Luchino Visconti's epic Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers, 1960), she was able to draw the public's attention to her. In 1962, she married Italian actor Renato Salvatori. Travelling back and forth between two film careers in France and Italy, Girardot also worked with renowned Italian Directors, including Marco Ferreri in the scandalous The Ape Woman (1964), which became one of the main attractions at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival. In 1968, she also starred in the cult anti-consumerism French film Erotissimo (Gérard Pirès, 1968).
By the end of the 1960s, she had become a movie star and a box-office magnet in France with such films as Vice and Virtue (1963); Live for Life (1967); Love Is a Funny Thing (1969); and Mourir d'aimer ("To die of love", 1971), the fact-based tale of Gabrielle Russier (1937-1969), a middle-aged classics Teacher whose affair with a much younger student made her the object of bourgeoisie ridicule. The film was nominated for a Golden Globe, and remains Girardot's biggest box office hit in France.
She married Italian actor Renato Salvatori in 1962. They had a daughter, Giulia, and later separated but never divorced.
Girardot's popularity became one of the symbols of the 1970s feminist movement in France, as the audience embraced the "everywoman" quality she brought to the strong-minded female characters she regularly played in both dramas and comedies. In her 1989 autobiography, "Vivre d'aimer", she wrote of her popularity that "People didn't come to watch a beautiful, vamp-like creature, but simply a woman. [...] I played a judge, a Lawyer, a taxi driver, a cop, a surgeon. I was never a glamorous star.".
On stage she had a triumph in 1974 with Madame Marguerite, which became her signature role that she reprised on numerous occasions until 2002. That year she was awarded the Molière Award for this role, along with a Honorary Molière Award for her entire stage career.
Over the course of a five-decade career, she starred in nearly 150 films. She was a three-time César Award winner (1977, 1996, 2002), a two-time Molière Award winner (2002), a David di Donatello Award winner (1977), a BAFTA nominee (1962), and a recipient of several international prizes including the Volpi Cup (Best actress) at the 1965 Venice Film Festival for Three Rooms in Manhattan.
The 1980s were less kind, as her career floundered and parts dwindled. In 1983, she lost a fortune when Revue Et Corrigée, the musical show she put on and starred in at the Casino de Paris, flopped. She subsequently battled depression, but bounced back with several television series in France and Italy. However, Girardot had a major comeback on the big screen playing a peasant wife in Claude Lelouch's Les Misérables. The role won her a second César Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1996. Upon accepting the award, a joyous and tearful Girardot expressed her happiness that she had not been forgotten by the film industry in a speech that remained very famous. In 1992, she was the Head of the Jury at the 42nd Berlin International Film Festival.
After going public in the 21 September 2006 issue of Paris Match with the news that she was suffering from Alzheimer's disease, she became a symbol of the illness in France.
On 28 February 2011, Girardot died in a hospital in Paris, aged 79. She was interred at Père-Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris.
Sancar Seckiner's book South (Güney), published July 2013, consists of 12 article and essays. One of them, "Girardot's Eyes", highlights broader comment of Annie Girardot' s performance in the cinema of art. ISBN 978-605-4579-45-7.