Paris, France.- His name was Ivo Livi, but he made a career as Yves Montand. Born on October 13, 1921, now 100 years ago, the singer and actor was the best example of a self-made artist, who grew out of a working-class family and triumphed, from France to Hollywood and Broadway, in the best scenarios.
He came to the world in Monsummano Terme a year before Benito Mussolini came to power, he moved from Italy to France at the age of four, at eleven he dropped out of school and chained from then small jobs that did not make him forget that his destiny was acting.
He started from nowhere and success smiled at him thanks to his talent and hard work. He left nothing to chance. In his notebooks he marked almost to the millimeter every step he had to take on stage. He knew exactly when to speak and where “, explains to Efe Valérie Fedele, curator of the exhibition that the Castle of la Buzine l (in Marseille) dedicates to him for the centenary.
Montand gave the American dream its best French version, according to the same sample.
Future under the spotlight
Waiter, clerk or hairdresser apprentice filled out their workbook before their professional meeting and love affair with Édith Piaf, in 1944, gave a decisive turn to his career, in which his charisma made him win the favor of the public.
Next to her debuted in el cine in 1945 in “Star without light” and to her he also owes his pull in the music hall, where He impressed even foreign spectators who did not understand a word of what he was singing.
All the press talked about him. He was known in all circles “, highlights Fedele, for whom Montand stood out even by the standards of the time:” There are not so many artists who had an international scope “.
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In his film career it was equally crucial Simone Signoret, her partner on and off the screen, whom he met in 1949 thanks to the writer Jacques Prévert, a mutual friend. Costa-Gavras’s “L’aveu” (1970) was one of their five joint films.
So solid was their union that it did not tremble even when Montand had an “affair” with Marilyn Monroe during the filming of the musical “Let’s make love”, from Georges Cukor: “Does anyone know many men who would be indifferent holding her in their arms?” she would joke.
In the sixties, Montand began to be in the plans of the great directors of the moment, by Alain Resnais (“La guerre est finie”) a Claude Lelouch (“Live to live”) o Claude Sautet, con quien rodó “Boy!”, “César and Rosalie” y “Vincent, François, Paul … and the others”.
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The eighties were instead a decade of ups and downs. From the 1985 death of Signoret to the 1988 birth of Valentin, his first and only child, with Carole Amiel, whom he met when she was 17 years old and he was already in his sixties.
“I think of Yves every day. I always wonder what would you do with your child if you were here, what advice would you have given? “ His widow, who has just published the biographical book “Yves Montand, la force du destin”, said this Monday in the newspaper Le Parisien.
The interpreter was, in his words, “a perfectionist on the boil”, and the stages and sets were for him a means of expression as artistic as politics: left-wing, Although disenchanted with communism, in 1974 he gave, for example, a recital at the Olympia in Paris in support of the Chileans after the Pinochet coup.
It can be said that Montand died almost with his boots on, on November 9, 1991, of a myocardial infarction, one day after the end of the filming of the film “IP5”, by Jean-Jacques Beineix, in which his character also died of a heart attack.
After his death, his name has been seen embroiled in controversy: in 2004 Cathérine Allégret, Signoret’s daughter and adopted by Montand in 1987, stated that he abused her when she was little, and in 1994 the justice declared him the father of the young Aurore Drossart, although the family appealed and, with new DNA evidence, the sentence was annulled.