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Jacqueline Bisset

Bisset on the red carpet at the 1989 Academy Awards
Born Winnifred Jacqueline Fraser-Bisset
13 September 1944 (1944-09-13) (age 65)
Weybridge, Surrey, UK
Occupation Actress
Years active 1965 – present

Jacqueline Bisset (born 13 September 1944) is an English actress. She has been nominated for four Golden Globe Awards and an Emmy Award. Her popular films include Bullitt (1968), Airport (1970), The Deep (1977), and Class (1983). In more recent years, she has appeared in several television productions, most notably the TV series Nip/Tuck in 2006.


Early life and family

Bisset was born Winnifred Jacqueline Fraser-Bisset in Weybridge, Surrey, England, the daughter of Arlette Alexander, a lawyer turned homemaker, and Max Fraser-Bisset, a general practitioner.[1] She was brought up in Tilehurst, Berkshire. Her father was Scottish and her mother was of French and English descent;[2][3] Bisset's mother cycled from Paris and boarded a British troop transport to escape the Germans during World War II.[4] Bisset has a brother, Max Fraser-Bisset. Her mother taught her to speak French fluently, and she was educated at the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle in London. When Bisset was a teenager, her mother was diagnosed with disseminating sclerosis. Bisset's parents divorced in 1968, after 28 years of marriage.[4] Bisset moved in to help her mother. She had taken ballet lessons as a child and now began taking acting lessons and fashion modeling to pay for them. Bisset's father died aged 71 of a brain tumour in 1982. Her mother died in 1999.[5]


Bisset made her screen debut with a bit part in The Knack ...and How to Get It (1965). Her first speaking role was in the 1966 film Cul de Sac, starring Donald Pleasence and directed by Roman Polanski. In 1967 she was cast in the movie Two for the Road with Audrey Hepburn, and played her first lead role opposite James Brolin in The Cape Town Affair (1967). That same year, she participated in the James Bond satire, Casino Royale, as Miss Goodthighs. In 1968, she replaced Mia Farrow to star opposite Frank Sinatra in The Detective.

Bisset's breakout role was as Steve McQueen's girlfriend in the hit action film Bullitt, also released in 1968. In 1969, she received her first Golden Globe nomination as New Star of the Year for her performance in The Sweet Ride, and played her first sexy "older woman" (at 25) in The First Time.[6] She was one of the many stars in the blockbuster disaster film Airport (1970), a Best Picture nominee in which she acted opposite Dean Martin and Helen Hayes.

Bisset often appeared with her leading men in more than one film. She was cast as Paul Newman's daughter in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972), then as his girlfriend in When Time Ran Out (1980). With Albert Finney, she appeared in Two for the Road, Under the Volcano and the ensemble mystery Murder on the Orient Express starring Sean Connery. Bisset's other frequent costars included Mickey Rourke, Anthony Perkins, and Michael York.

She is the main character in Luigi Comencini's La donna della domenica in 1975. In 1977, Bisset made strides towards becoming a better-known entertainer in America with her movie The Deep, co-starring Robert Shaw and Nick Nolte and directed by Peter Yates, who had previously directed her in Bullitt. A scene of her swimming underwater wearing nothing under her T-shirt helped make the film a box office success, leading the producer Peter Guber to say, "That T-shirt made me a rich man,"[7]. At the time, Newsweek declared her "the most beautiful film actress of all time." About that time, a small Dutch-produced[citation needed] film Bisset had made some years earlier was re-released in the United States under the title Secrets. That movie featured the only extensive nude scenes of Bisset's career and the producers cashed in on her fame.

By 1978, she was a household name. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for the comedy Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? Soon thereafter, she played in the movies Rich and Famous (1981) with Candice Bergen, Class (1983) (as a woman who seduces her son's best friend) co-starring Rob Lowe, and Under the Volcano (1984), for which she earned her a second Golden Globe nomination. In 1996, she was nominated for a César Award, for her role in La Cérémonie. Bisset has worked with such directors as François Truffaut, John Huston, and George Cukor. Several of her movies are French or Italian productions.

Bisset has appeared in many made-for-TV movies and independent films, especially during the last decade. She received an Emmy Award nomination for the 1999 miniseries Joan of Arc. Other notable projects include the Emmy-nominated epics Jesus (1999) and In the Beginning (2000) with Martin Landau. She made guest appearances on the shows Ally McBeal and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. One of her later TV movies, in 2003, was America's Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story, in which she portrayed Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. In 2005, she appeared in the action movie Domino with Keira Knightley. Bisset's most recent television work was a recurring role as the mysterious James, during the fourth season of the FX series Nip/Tuck. She starred in the lead role of Boaz Yakin's Death in Love which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and is about "a Jewish concentration-camp survivor whose willing romance with the camp's Nazi doctor—a man who tortured her fellow prisoners—destroys the lives of her American husband and their two sons 50 years later".[8]

Personal life

Jaqueline Bisset at the premiere of Bette Midler's movie The Rose, 1979

Bisset is godmother to actress Angelina Jolie. She appeared with Jolie in the film Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005); however, the scenes never made it to the final cut.

Unlike many actresses of her generation who have difficulty finding work after 40, Bisset made a seamless transition from leading lady to character actor. She remains in demand in Hollywood and Europe. She told a Bermuda newspaper in 2004:[9]

This film business, perhaps more so in America than in Europe, has always been about young sexuality. It's not true of theatre, but in America, film audiences are young and they go to the cinema to see the sort of romance or adventure that appeals to them. It's not an intellectual cinema in America. But one mustn't be too greedy. One wants to be stimulated by the work as long as there is something to give. I think you have to be as flexible as possible. Perhaps you don't get handed the big American productions, but, quite honestly, who would want to be in a lot of them? Many of them are just puerile teenage filler, and they're not fascinating to be in. To be used in a part without depth is a frustrating feeling, when you know you have something to give, and the camera just sort of brushes past you, and doesn't get what you have to give. Most actresses I know are frustrated, but you have to adapt to the reality. I go and find a small part in something I find interesting, or find an independent film"

Bisset has never married though she has had several lengthy romances. “I feel like I was married to them because I was very dedicated to them,” she said in a 2008 interview. “But I also used to feel claustrophobic. Like many people who don’t easily commit, I think I had a fear of being known; I was not sure there was anybody inside there”.[10]

She divides her time between homes in England and Beverly Hills, California.

Bisset in popular culture

In the NBC TV show Cheers, the episode "Bar Bet" has Sam Malone faced with a bet made with an old drinking buddy a long time ago. The bet: he would marry Jacqueline Bisset by a certain date or lose his bar. Rather than losing the bet because he'd never marry the Jacqueline Bisset, or welching on the bet and having to admit under oath that he was drunk when he made the bet, he found an American with the same name and brought her back to Boston.

Bisset is mentioned in the Al Stewart song "Clifton in the Rain," in the line "Jacqueline Bisset, saw your movie. Wonder if you really felt that way. Do you ever fear the images of Hollywood?"

In Garry Shandling's TV show It's Garry Shandling's Show, a married friend confides that he keeps his sex life alive by thinking of his wife Jackie as Bisset. (She, in turn, thinks of him as Pete Rose.)

In Shandling's HBO TV show The Larry Sanders Show, producer Artie says he once dated Bisset.

In the popular television show The Practice, the episode "Judge and Jury" (Season 3, Episode 13) features the character Bobby Donnell, played by Dylan McDermott, admitting to have had sexual fantasies about older women, in particular, Jacqueline Bisset.



  1. ^ Jacqueline Bisset Biography (1944–)
  2. ^ NewsLibrary Search Results
  3. ^ NewsLibrary Search Results
  4. ^ a b Jacqueline Bisset Biography – Yahoo! Movies
  5. ^ I want to marry my toy boy
  6. ^
  7. ^ Nancy Griffin and Kim Masters, Hit & Run: How Jon Peters and Peter Guber Took Sony for A Ride in Hollywood, Simon & Schuster, 1996, p. 85.
  8. ^ Mary Kate Schilling, "Savage Beauty", New York Magazine, 20–27 July 2009, page 68
  9. ^ Bisset Resurfaces: 2004 Bermuda career interview
  10. ^

External links

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