Renée Dorléac, actor and mother of Catherine Deneuve, dies aged 109

Renée Dorléac, the French film star and mother of actors including Catherine Deneuve, Françoise Dorléac and Sylvie Dorléac, has died aged 109 in Paris, her family confirmed to Le Figaro.

Born in the port town of Le Havre on 10 September 1911, the actor – known professionally as Renée-Jeanne Simonot – began her career aged seven in Paris’s Odéon theatre, where she worked for three decades.

Following the advent of the talkies in 1929, she became one of the first French actors to forge a career in dubbing, becoming the French voice of stars including Olivia de Havilland, Judy Garland and Esther Williams.

While dubbing for MGM, she met the actor Maurice Dorléac and they married in 1940. They had three daughters: Françoise in 1942, Catherine in 1943 and Sylvie in 1946.

, Renée Dorléac, actor and mother of Catherine Deneuve, dies aged 109, The Nzuchi Times Guardian
, Renée Dorléac, actor and mother of Catherine Deneuve, dies aged 109, The Nzuchi Times Guardian
Renée with her husband, actor Maurice Dorleac. Photograph: Jacques Haillot

At the end of the second world war she quit acting to devote herself to raising her daughters, including her eldest, Danielle, from a previous relationship. Françoise – who co-starred with Catherine in The Young Girls of Rochefort as well as starring in Roman Polanski’s Cul-de-Sac, died in 1967 in a car accident; Maurice died in 1979.

Catherine Deneuve, now 77, is one of France’s preeminent actors, and was at the Cannes film festival on Sunday – the day of her mother’s death – presenting her new film, Peaceful.

Deneuve, who chose her mother’s maiden name for her stage and screen name, said she had never been more moved at the festival than at Sunday’s premiere, having been shaken by the coronavirus pandemic and by her own stroke in 2019.

Speaking a few months before her 102nd birthday in 2013, Dorléac told Le Point: “My old age is not sad. I am lucky to be very surrounded. There is not a day where I don’t get a phone call or a visit from my children and grandchildren.”

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