Françoise Dorleac

17 February 2021  |  Culture

Françoise Dorléac

Catherine Deneuve is a French icon, among the world’s greatest actresses, making her film début at the age of 13 in 1957.

However, lesser known is her sister Françoise Dorléac who herself was a promising film actress on the brink of international stardom when she died in a car accident in 1967.

Françoise was actually the first of the two sisters to become a star - she first modelled for Christian Dior and then made a number of films before finding celebrity stardom with François Truffaut’s ‘The Soft Skin’ in 1964 and ‘That Man From Rio’ in the same year. She said in 1963, ‘I met Truffaut and realised how good it would be to make a film with him. The trouble was I dislked him on sight and it wasn’t long before he told me the same. In fact, he found me unbearable. We had a few tense months together before we realised our first impressions were wrong and found the beginnings of mutual discovery”.

They became lovers for a short period and remained close friends afterwards.

A very flexible actress, Françoise went on to make more famous films; ‘The Gentle Art Of Seduction in 1964, ‘Where The Spies Are ‘in 1966 and ‘Billion Dollar Brain’ in 1967.

Perhaps her most famous role was alongside her sister in the musical, ‘Les Demoiselles de Rochefort’ in 1967 - a colourful movie directed by Jacques Démy and also starring Gene Kelly. She and Catherine, who looked quite similar, played singing twins who dream about living in Paris.

Her tragic death occured on June 26th 1967 when she lost control of a rented Renault 10 and hit a signpost in Villeneuve-Loubet, ten kilometres from Nice. Her early death at age 25 most certainly robbed the cinema of a tried and true talent and incomparably beautiful mademoiselle who showed every sign of taking Hollywood by storm, as Catherine later did.

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Hugh Atkins

Co-founder of Pure France. 20 years of visiting and photographing fabulous properties, meeting fascinating people and driving every main and back road in France.

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