Jean-Paul Belmondo, star of ‘Breathless,’ dies at 88

by 24USATVSept. 7, 2021, 3 p.m. 22
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PARIS (AP) — Jean-Paul Belmondo, star of the iconic French New Wave film “Breathless,” whose crooked boxer’s nose and rakish grin went on to make him one of the country’s most recognizable leading men, has died at 88. His death was confirmed Monday by the office of his lawyer, Michel Godest. No cause of death was given. Belmondo’s career spanned half a century. In the 1960s, he embodied a new type of male movie star, one characterized by pure virility rather than classic good looks. He went on to appear in more than 80 films and worked with a variety of major French directors, from Francois Truffaut to Claude Lelouch and JeanLuc Godard, whose 1960 movie “Breathless” (“Au Bout de Souffle” in its original French title) brought both men lasting acclaim. Belmondo’s career choices were equally varied, from acclaimed art house films to critically lukewarm action and comedy films later in his career. His unconventional looks — flattened nose, full lips and muscular frame — allowed him to play roles from thug to police officer, thief to priest, Cyrano de Bergerac to an unshakable secret agent. Belmondo was also a gifted athlete who often did his own stunts. French President Emmanuel Macron called the actor a “national treasure” in an homage on Twitter and Instagram, recalling the actor’s panache, his laugh and his versatility. Belmondo was at once a “sublime hero” and “a familiar figure,” Macron wrote. “In him, we all recognize ourselves.” France bounded into Belmondo mode at news of his death, with praise from politicians of all stripes pouring in. The media played old movie clips that caught the athletic Belmondo in the heart-stopping acrobatics he was known to love, from sliding down a rooftop to climbing up a rope ladder from a moving convertible.

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