Dies at 94 With 170 Movies: Paris Actor Michel Piccoli Put French Cinema on Par With Hollywood

Dies at 94 With 170 Movies: Paris Actor Michel Piccoli Put French Cinema on Par With Hollywood

French actor Michel Piccoli has died at the age of 94.

His family confirmed to French media on Monday that he passed away last week, without stating the cause of death; however Agence France-Presse have claimed he had a stroke, surrounded by his loved ones.

Piccoli was a prolific screen star who appeared in landmark films by directors such as Luis Bunuel – including in his Academy Award winning The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie – and Jean-Luc Godard.

The Paris-born star was a stalwart of art house cinema, though less famous in the English-speaking film industry.

He was, however, in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1969 English-language espionage thriller Topaz. Piccoli’s career in Hollywood didn’t take off though.

Married three times, he is survived by a daughter, Anne-Cordélia, and his third wife Ludivine Clerc. Anne-Cordélia is his child from his first marriage to Éléonore Hirt.

His second wife was singer Juliette Greco. He wed Clerc in 1978 and stayed with her until his death.

His last major role was in 2011’s Nanni Moretti´s We Have A Pope, which premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.

Beginning his career in the 1940s, he went on to make over 170 movies, working into his late eighties.

His most memorable appearance came arguably during the French New Wave – starring opposite Brigitte Bardot in Godard´s 1963 masterpiece Contempt, with his dark hat and signature bushy eyebrows.

But Piccoli’s performances for Europe´s most iconic directors will also be remembered, including for France´s Jean Renoir, Jacques Rivette and Jean-Pierre Melville, Britain´s Alfred Hitchcock and Spain´s Bunuel.

For the Spanish director, Piccioli starred alongside Catherine Deneuve in the 1967 masterpiece Belle de Jour.

1972’s The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie won the Best Foreign Film award at the Oscars in 1973.

In Europe, Piccoli won a host of accolades, including Best Actor in Cannes in 1980 for A Leap In The Dark by Marco Bellochio and a Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1982 for Strange Affair by Pierre Granier-Deferre.

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