Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano (Milan), no. 1656. Photo: Cineriz.
Miss Côte d'Azur
Irène Pierrette Louise Tunc was born in Lyon (according to IMDb in Lille), France, in 1935. Her father was a furniture dealer.
In the summer of 1953, the beautiful teenager was chosen Miss Côte d'Azur in the beach town of Juan-les-Pins. At the time, she was already working as a mannequin, modelling for local papers and posing in beachwear for holiday postcards. The next year, she was crowned Miss France in 1954 at the age of 19.
One of her first film roles was opposite Franco Fabrizi and Gabriele Ferzetti in the Italian comedy-drama Camilla (Luciano Emmer, 1954). In Italy, she also appeared with Alberto Sordi in Bravissimo (Luigi Filippo D'Amico, 1955).
Back in France, she continued to model in Paris and studied acting at the school of Françoise Rosay. Tunc played a supporting part in the comedy Les Truands/The Gangsters (Carlo Rim, 1956) starring Eddie Constantine. She also had a small part in the American comedy Paris Holiday (Gerd Oswald, 1958) starring the ‘comedy team of the century’, Bob Hope and Fernandel. The film was shot in Technirama and Technicolor in Paris and in the French village of Gambais.
Just like many other beautiful French actresses of her generation, she returned to Italy for better roles. She played the lead role in the melodrama La sposa/The wife (Edmondo Lozzi, 1958), and a supporting part in the crime-comedy Noi siamo due evasi (Giorgio Simonelli, 1959).
Ne French trailer for the re-edition of Les Deux Anglaises et le Continent/Two English Girls (François Truffaut, 1971). Source: Vincent Domaslaw (YouTube).
Irène Tunc found more rewarding roles in the French cinema with the raise of the Nouvelle Vague. She had a big supporting part in the classic Léon Morin, prêtre/Léon Morin, Priest/The Sin (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1961), starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Emmanuelle Riva. The film was based on the 1952 Prix Goncourt-winning novel by Béatrix Beck.
Also memorable is Vivre pour vivre/Live for Life (Claude Lelouch, 1967), starring Yves Montand, Candice Bergen and Annie Girardot. The film won the Golden Globe and was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
Other interesting films in which she appeared are Les aventuriers/The Last Adventure (Robert Enrico, 1967) starring Alain Delon, the French science fiction film Je t'aime, je t'aime/I Love You, I Love You (Alain Resnais, 1968) and the romantic drama Les Deux Anglaises et le Continent/Two English Girls (François Truffaut, 1971) with Jean-Pierre Léaud, Kika Markham and Stacey Tendeter.
Irène Tunc died in a car crash in 1972 in Versailles. She was only 36. Tunc was married twice. Her first marriage was to Belgian film maker Ivan Govar (1958-1964).
Since 1965 she was the wife of film director Alain Cavalier, for whom she appeared in the crime drama Mise à sac/Pillaged (Alain Cavalier, 1967) and the romance La chamade/Heartbeat (Alain Cavalier, 1968) starring Catherine Deneuve. In 2009, Alain Cavalier dedicated a film to her, Irène (Alain Cavalier, 2009), based on her diaries. In the French newspaper Liberation, Gérard Lefort called it “a beautiful declaration of love”.
French trailer for Irène (Alain Cavalier, 2009). Source: Cinema2000PT (YouTube).
Sources: Céline Colassin (CinéArtistes – French), Gérard Lefort (Liberation – French), Wikipedia (French and English) and IMDb.