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November 3, 2019

Françoise Dorléac: French Classic Beauty With a Tragic Life Ending

Born 1942 in Nice, French actress and the elder sister of Catherine Deneuve Françoise Dorléac made her film debut in The Wolves in the Sheepfold (1960). She was Jean-Pierre Cassel's leading lady in The Dance (1962) and had one of the leads in a TV movie, Les trois chapeaux claques (1962).

Dorleac appeared as the adulterous wife in Roman Polanski's black comedy Cul-de-sac (1966), shot in Britain. She returned to France to star in a TV adaption of the Prosper Mérimée novel Julie de Chaverny Ou La double méprise (1966) directed by Marchand. Then joined Gene Kelly and her sister Catherine, who was a cinematic star by this time, in The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), an homage to Hollywood musicals.

Her final film role was the female lead in Billion Dollar Brain (1967) opposite Michael Caine, who played spy Harry Palmer.

Dorléac was on the brink of international stardom when she died on 26 June 1967 in a motor accident. She lost control of a rented Renault 10 and hit a signpost ten kilometres from Nice at the Villeneuve-Loubet exit of the highway La Provençale. The car flipped over, and burst into flames. She had been en route to Nice airport and was afraid of missing her flight. She was seen struggling to get out of the car, but was unable to open the door. Police later identified her body only from the fragment of a cheque book, a diary and her driver's license.

Take a look at these vintage photos to see the beauty of Françoise Dorléac during her short career in the 1960s.

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