Jean-Paul Belmondo, Icon of the French New Wave, Dies @ 88

Jean-Paul Belmondo, the French film icon closely associated with the New Wave genre of the early '60s, and who went on to become one of his country's most bankable action stars, died Monday, September 6, at his Paris home.

An indelible image from Breathless (GIF via GIPHY)

He was 88.

Belmondo, born April 9, 1933, in Paris, came to prominence with 1960's Breathless, from director Jean-Luc Godard, who is still with us at 90.

French postcard of a French post-modern idol

His brooding, rebellious anti-hero image was reminiscent of Marlon Brando and James Dean before him, and established him as France's most influential actor. With pouting lips but the rough-hewn look of a former boxer (which he was), his presence in numerous early-'60s films defined a movement.

Other performances, in films such as Seven Days ... Seven Nights (1960) and Two Women (1960), the latter of which featured Sophia Loren's (b. 1934) Oscar-winning performance, continued his meteoric rise as a darling of the critics, and of serious film scholars.

With 1964's That Man from Rio, Belmondo began to shift away from the arthouse, establishing his personal preference for unpretentious thrillers and comedies. He was noted for his love of doing his own stunts, a habit that continued until a serious injury at 52 necessitated that he bow out and let the stunt men be stunt men.

Among some of his other impactful and popular films: Léon Morin, Priest (1961); Pierrot le Fou (1965); Up to His Ears (1965); Borsalino (1970); Fear Over the City (1975); The Professional (1981); Le Marginal (1983); The Vultures (1984); Itinéraire d'un enfant gâté (1989); One Hundred and One Nights (1995); and A Man and His Dog (2008).

He retired after making a short in 2009.

Married and divorced twice, Belmondo famously romanced both Ursula Andress and Laura Antonelli.

Belmondo's last film (Image via movie still)

He is survived by three of this four children. His eldest daughter, Patricia, preceded him in death in 1994.

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