Over a half century career, she’s appeared in almost 150 films and has become infamous for the sensuous beauty and powerful character that illuminate her performances. Moreau’s dad, Anatole-Desire Moreau was a restaurant owner. Moreau’s mom, Kathleen (ne Buckley), was an English dancer who’d come to Paris to perform at the Folies Bergre cabaret hall.
Moreau’s mom returned to England (with Moreau’s younger sister, Michelle), and her dad remained in Paris. Throughout the German occupation of Paris in the early 1940s, Moreau was raised by her dad and lived above the restaurant he managed. When Jeanne was 15, Moreau saw the play Antigone by Jean Anouilh and determined that she wished to be an actress. From age 20, Moreau was the youngest full time member of the venerable Comdie Franaise, where she performed for four years. In 1951 Moreau went to the Thtre Nationale Populaire.
In her 20s, Moreau started to receive modest parts in minor movies. Moreau was paid $300 for her first job, a part in the 1949 movie Last Love. Moreau’s breakthrough job was a character in a crime drama titled Elevator to the Gallows, directed by Louis Malle in 1957. Moreau and Malle both became important figures of the French New Wave movement. Their professional cooperation to the erotically charged drama The Lovers in 1959, along with their personal relationship as real life fans, attracted the attention of moviegoers and reviewers all over the world.
Moreau’s best known movie character could have been Catherine, the free-spirited heroine of Franois Truffaut’s love triangle drama Jules and Jim (1962). Moreau collaborated again with Truffaut in 1967’s The Bride Wore Black. Throughout the 1960s, Moreau worked with many significant international filmmakers who valued her intelligence, wit and fearless dedication along with her extreme beauty. Moreau continued to work throughout the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, typically on European movie jobs rather than with Hollywood studios. (There were a few exceptions, including Moreau’s character in American director Elia Kazan’s 1976 version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon). In 2001 Moreau impersonated French writer and director Marguerite Duras in Cet Amour-l. She’s also returned to her theatre career in several stage productions.
Like Moreau’s contemporaries Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve, Moreau is observed as a legend of the French film. Moreau has been married and divorced twice. Moreau was married to Jean-Louis Richardfrom 1949 to 1951. The couple have a son, Jerome. From 1977 to 1979 the couple was married to film director William Friedkin. Moreau has additionally been linked romantically with all the designer Pierre Cardin, director Tony Richardson and actor Lee Marvin.