Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y = Yves Montand, Actor - A to Z

A Leading Man. . . Actor, Singer

He was the romantic Italian singer who became a French actor.  Born as Ivo Livi  outside of Florence Italy, October 13, 1921, he died November 9, 1991 at the age of 70.  Montand went on to international recognition as a singer and actor, starring in numerous films. His crooner songs, especially those about Paris, became instant classics.

Montand's family left Italy for France in 1923.  He grew up in Marseilles, where, as a young man, he worked in his sister's barber shop and later on the docks. He began a career in show business as a music-hall singer.  In 1944, he was discovered by Edith Piaf in Paris and she made him part of her act, becoming his mentor and lover.

 After working in Piaf's nightclub act and appearing with her in the 1946 film Star Without Light, Montand gained stature as a solo actor/singer, proving his dramatic mettle in Georges Clouzot's The Wages of Fear (1955).  The actor enjoyed a career renaissance as a character player in the 1980s.

In 1951, Montand married actress Simone Signoret, a union that lasted until her death in 1985.  His second marriage was to Carole Amiel (1987-1991) who gave him a son, his only child.  He had a number of affairs, the most notable being Marilyn Monroe while she was married to Arthur Miller.

Montand embarked on an affair with Marilyn Monroe during filming of the ill fated film Let's Make Love. He had been personally recommended by Arthur Miller (who was married to Monroe) after Miller saw him acting in a foreign movie version of The Crucible called Les Sorcières de Salem. Montand always expressed regret over the affair as he considered Miller a 'good friend'. 

As Shirley MacLaine wrote in her 1995 memoir, My Lucky Stars, she and Montand maintained an affair during the filming of My Geisha.

In the French dubbings of Looney Tunes, the character Pepe Le Pew is an Italian skunk named 'Pepe le putois'.  The voice characterization was often based on Yves Montand's performances.  Interesting that his character was portrayed as a skunk.

After filming one day, he died from a heart attack.  On the very last day, after his very last shot.  They were doing retakes.  He finished what he was doing and then he died, very quietly.  He is buried next to Simone Signoret in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France.

Movies: Grand Prix, 1966; My Geisha 1962.  That's a sampling.

DG's Theme:  Paris, Etc,  (Art, Film, Places, and People)

Have you heard of Yves Montand (a retro 50s-60s French film actor)?   Simone Signoret?  Have you seen Grand Prix?  For a sample of his crooning, listen to the youtube below.  Any comments?  Did you like Pepi Le Pew?


YVES MONTAND - Les Feuilles Mortes  (French retro crooner)


References:  Photo of Yves Montand   Yves Montand Films