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Jean Seberg
Born Jean Dorothy Seberg
November 13, 1938(1938-11-13)
Marshalltown, Iowa, U.S.
Died August 30, 1979 (aged 40)
Paris, France
Occupation Actress
Years active 1957–1979
Spouse(s) François Moreuil (1958-1960)
Romain Gary (1962-1970)
Dennis Charles Berry (1972-1979) (her death)

Jean Dorothy Seberg[1] (November 13, 1938 – August 30, 1979) was an American actress. She starred in 37 films in Hollywood and in France.

Contents

Early life

Seberg was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, the daughter of Dorothy (née Benson), a substitute teacher, and Edward Seberg, who was a druggist.[2][3] Her family was Lutheran and of Swedish ancestry.[4][5] Seberg studied at the University of Iowa.

Career

Seberg made her film debut in 1957 in the title role of Saint Joan, from the Shaw play, after being chosen from 18,000 hopefuls by director Otto Preminger. Preminger cast her in his next film Bonjour Tristesse the next year. Seberg also appeared in the 1959 Peter Sellers comedy, The Mouse That Roared, made in the UK.

She appeared as Patricia in Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (original French title: À bout de souffle), a work of the French New Wave, in which she co-starred with Jean-Paul Belmondo.

In 1969, she appeared in her first and only musical film, Paint Your Wagon, based on Lerner and Loewe's stage musical, and co-starring Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood, but her singing voice was dubbed. Seberg starred alongside Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, Jacqueline Bisset and several other stars in the disaster film, Airport (1970).

Her last US film appearance was in the TV movie Mousey (1974). She was François Truffaut's first choice for the central role of Julie in La Nuit Américaine but, after several fruitless attempts to contact her, Truffaut gave up and cast Jacqueline Bisset instead. Her state of mind may have been responsible for a missed opportunity in 1973.[6].

Seberg later appeared in Bianchi cavalli d'Agosto (White Horses of Summer) (1975), Le Grand Délire (Die Große Ekstase) (1975, with husband Dennis Berry) and Die Wildente (1976, based on Ibsen's The Wild Duck[7]).

Personal life

Seberg married Francois Moreuil, a French movie director who directed her in La récréation (1961), in 1958; they divorced in 1960, as a result of her affair with French author and diplomat Romain Gary. In 1962, while pregnant with their son Alexander Diego, she married Gary, who was 24 years her senior and had divorced his wife, British writer Lesley Blanch, for her. Blanch declared his new wife not intellectual enough for him, stating the actress was "a very pretty, randy young woman, a little bit vulgar".[8] When Gary discovered Seberg was having an affair with Clint Eastwood during the shooting of Paint Your Wagon, he confronted them both and challenged Eastwood to a duel which Eastwood declined. Shortly thereafter Gary decided to end the marriage[9].

During the later part of the 1960s, Seberg used her high-profile image to privately voice support for the NAACP and supported Native American school groups such as the Mesquaki Bucks at the Tama settlement near her home town of Marshalltown, for whom she purchased $500 worth of basketball uniforms. She also supported the Black Panther Party.[10] Though she had done nothing illegal, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover considered her a threat to the American state. Her telephone was tapped and her private life was closely observed. She knew about it and felt chased.

In 1970, when she was seven months pregnant, the FBI created a false story[11] that the child she was carrying was not fathered by her husband Romain Gary, but by a member of the Black Panthers Party, Raymond Hewitt. The story was reported by gossip columnist Joyce Haber of the Los Angeles Times,[12] and Newsweek magazine.[13] Although Gary acknowledged the child as his own, Seberg did confess to him that it was in fact the result of an affair she shared with revolutionary student Carlos Nevarra during their separation. She gave birth to a white girl on August 23, 1970, but the infant, named Nina, died two days later.[14] The Garys divorced by the year's end.

In 1972, she married film director Dennis Berry. She also became dependent on alcohol and prescription drugs.

Seberg's problems were compounded when she went through a form of marriage to a Algerian Ahmed Hasni, on May 31, 1979. The brief ceremony had no legal force because she was still married to Berry.[15] In July, Hasni persuaded her to sell her second apartment on the Rue du Bac, and he kept the proceeds (reportedly 11 million francs in cash), announcing that he would use the money to open a Barcelona restaurant.[16] The couple departed for Spain but she was soon back in Paris alone, and went into hiding from Hasni, who she said had grievously abused her.[17]

Death

Grave of Jean Seberg

In August 1979, she went missing and was found dead eleven days later in the back seat of her car, which was parked close to her Paris apartment in the 16th arrondissement. The police report stated that she had taken a massive overdose of barbiturates and alcohol (8g per litre). A suicide note ("Forgive me. I can no longer live with my nerves.") was found in her hand, and "probable suicide" was ultimately ruled the official cause of death by the French coroner. However, it is often questioned how she could have operated a car with that amount of alcohol in her body, and without the corrective lenses she always maintained she absolutely needed for driving.[18] A year later, her former husband Gary committed suicide.

Seberg was interred in the Cimetière du Montparnasse, Paris, France.

Legacy

In 1995, a documentary of her life was made by Mark Rappaport, titled From the Journals of Jean Seberg. Mary Beth Hurt played Seberg in a voice-over. Appropriately, Hurt was also born in Marshalltown, Iowa, in 1948, attended the same high school as Seberg, and Seberg had been her babysitter. A musical, Jean Seberg, by librettist Julian Barry, composer Marvin Hamlisch, and lyricist Christopher Adler, based on Seberg's life, was presented in 1983 at the National Theatre in London.

The short 2000 film Je t'aime John Wayne is a tribute parody of Breathless, with Camilla Rutherford playing Seberg's role. Along with many other heroes who lived interesting lives, yet died tragically young Irish band, The Divine Comedy, make reference to Seberg in their song titled "Absent Friends". "Little Jean Seberg seemed so full of life, but in those eyes such troubled dreams - Poor little Jean."

In 2004, the French author Alain Absire published Jean S., a fictionalised biography. Seberg's son, Alexandre Diego Gary, brought a lawsuit unsuccessfully attempting to stop publication.

Filmography

  • Saint Joan (1957)
  • Bonjour tristesse (1958)
  • The Mouse That Roared (1959)
  • Breathless (A bout de souffle) (1959)
  • Let No Man Write My Epitaph (1960)
  • Les Grandes Personnes (Time Out for Love) (1961)
  • La récréation (Playtime / Love Play) (1961, with husband François Moreuil)
  • L'Amant de cinq jours (1961)
  • Congo Vivo (1962)
  • In the French Style (1962)
  • Les Plus Belles Escroqueries du Monde (The World's Greatest Swindles) (1964)[19]
  • Lilith (1964)
  • The Beautiful Swindlers (1964)
  • Échappement libre (Backfire) (1964)
  • Moment to Moment (1965)
  • Un Milliard dans un Billard (Diamonds are Brittle) (1965)
  • A Fine Madness (1966)
  • La Ligne de démarcation or Line of Demarcation (1966)
  • Estouffade à la Caraïbe (Gold Robbers) (1967)
  • The Road to Corinth (1968)
  • Birds in Peru (1968, with husband Romain Gary)
  • Pendulum (1968)
  • Paint Your Wagon (1969)
  • Ondata di Calore (Dead of Summer) (1970)
  • Airport (1970)
  • Macho Callahan (1970)
  • Kill! (1972)
  • Questa Specie d'Amore (This Kind of Love) (1972)
  • L'attentat (The French Conspiracy) (1972)
  • Camorra (1972)
  • The Corruption of Chris Miller (1973)
  • Mousey (or Cat & Mouse) (1974)
  • Les Hautes solitudes (1974)
  • Ballad for the Kid (1974) (also contributed to script, direction, editing)
  • White Horses of Summer (1975)
  • Le Grand Délire (Die Große Ekstase) (1975, with husband Dennis Berry)
  • The Wild Duck (1976)
  • La Légion Saute sur Kolwezi (1980 - scenes shot before her suicide were never shown)

Bibliography

  • Richards, David (1981). Played Out: The Jean Seberg Story. Random House. ISBN 0-394-51132-8. 
  • McGee, Garry (2008). Jean Seberg — Breathless. Albany, GA: BearManor Media. ISBN 1-59393-127-1. 

References

  1. ^ Jean Seberg - Films as actress:, Film as director:
  2. ^ Jean Seberg Found Dead in Paris; Actress Was Missing for 10 Days; A Li... - Free Preview - The New York Times
  3. ^ THE SEBERG TRAGEDY; JEAN SEBERG - Free Preview - The New York Times
  4. ^ Evolution of a New Saint Joan; Jean Seberg, 18, unknown and barely tri... - Free Preview - The New York Times
  5. ^ Alice Miller
  6. ^ McGee, Garry (2008). Jean Seberg — Breathless. Albany, GA: BearManor Media. ISBN 1-59393-127-1.  p.238
  7. ^ IMDB
  8. ^ Caroline Baum, "The Wild One", The Spectator, 26 May 2007
  9. ^ McGee, p.166
  10. ^ Richards, David (1981). Played Out: The Jean Seberg Story. Random House. ISBN 0-394-51132-8.  p.204
  11. ^ JEAN SEBERG: Politics
  12. ^ Richards, p.239
  13. ^ Richards, p.247
  14. ^ Richards, p.253
  15. ^ Richards, p.367
  16. ^ Richards, p.368
  17. ^ Richards, p.369
  18. ^ Richards, p.377
  19. ^ This episodic film was originally a collaboration of five directors. Despite being directed by Jean-Luc Godard and shot by Raoul Coutard, Seberg's 20-minute episode (Le Grand Escroc) was cut from the final release (McGee, p.110). It was resurrected and partly shown in From the Journals of Jean Seberg (1995)

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