13 September 2016

Juliette Gréco

French Juliette Gréco (1927) is a legendary actress and chanson singer. In the post-war years, the black-dressed beauty was the muse of the existentialists of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Later she became the protégée of movie mogul Darryl F. Zanuck.

Juliette Greco
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. 83.

Juliette Gréco
Belgian card by Cox, no. 10.

Juliette Greco
German/French postcard by Huit, Paris / ISV no. A 76. Photo: 20th Century Fox. Publicity still for The Naked Earth (Vincent Sherman, 1958).

Juliette Gréco
Dutch postcard, no. 960.

Juliette Greco,
French promotion card by Philips. Photo: Farabola, Milan.

Juliette Greco
French promotion card by Phiips / J. Moreau-Publicité. Photo: Tony Frank.


Juliette Gréco was born in Montpellier, in the south of France in 1927. Juliette's father, who was born in Corsica, worked as a policeman on the Côte d'Azur. She rarely saw him in her childhood as she and her elder sister Charlotte were raised by their maternal grandparents who lived in Bordeaux.

Juliette's mother had joined the resistance and Gestapo officers had arrested her in 1943. Charlotte and Juliette were also caught but the 16-years-old Juliette was not deported because of her young age.

In 1946, she moved to Saint-Germain-des-Prés at the left bank in Paris. Juliette soon became part of the post-war art scene, hanging out with poets, jazz musicians, writers and painters in the cafés of Saint-Germain, among them Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Raymond Queneau, Boris Vian, Jean Cocteau and Miles Davis. She dressed generally in black and let her long, black hair hang free.

Thanks to the combination of intelligence, looks and attitude, Juliette soon became a major figure on the Saint Germain scene She became a muse not only for Sartre and Camus, but also for Jacques Brel and Serge Gainsbourg.

Cocteau gave her a role in his film Orphée/Orpheus (Jean Cocteau, 1950) starring Jean Marais. Other films in which she appeared were Au royaume des cieux/The Sinners (Julien Duvivier, 1949) with Serge Reggiani, the comedy ...Sans laisser d'adresse/Without Leaving An Address (Jean-Paul Le Chanois, 1951), Quand tu liras cette lettre/When You Read This Letter (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1953), and Elena et les hommes/Elena and the Men (Jean Renoir, 1956), starring Ingrid Bergman.

Juliette Greco
French postcard by Editions du Globe (EDUG), no. 191. Photo: Studio Harcourt, Paris.

Juliette Greco
French postcard by Editions du Globe (EDUG), no. 223. Photo: Studio Harcourt, Paris.

Juliette Greco
French postcard by Editions du Globe (EDUG), no. 221. Photo: Studio Harcourt, Paris.

Juliette Greco
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 623. Photo: Lucienne Chevert.

Juliette Greco
French promotion card by Philips. Photo: Philips / Raymond Voinquel.

Juliette Greco
Dutch postcard by Takken, Utrecht, no. AX 5050. Photo: 20th Century Fox. Publicity still for The Big Gamble (Richard Fleischer, Elmo Williams, 1961).


In 1949 Julliette Gréco also began a singing career. Si tu t'imagines (1950), with lyrics by Raymond Queneau, was one of her earliest songs to become popular. In 1951 she went into the studio to record her début single Je suis comme je suis (I Am What I Am). This song, written by Jacques Prévert and set to music by Joseph Kosma, would go on to become an absolute classic of the Gréco repertoire.
Other famous songs are Les Dames de la poste (1952) and Déshabillez-moi (1967).

In 1956, during the shooting of the film The Sun Also Rises (Henry King, 1957) starring Tyrone Power and Ava Gardner, she became the paramour of American film producer and 20th Century-Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck. He cast his protégee in films like The Naked Earth (Vincent Sherman, 1958), The Roots of Heaven (John Huston, 1958) with Errol Flynn, and Crack in the Mirror (Richard Fleischer, 1960) with Orson Welles.

She also prospered after parting company with 20th Century-Fox in the early 1960s, continuing to play choice club dates and to co-star in such internationally financed films as The Night of the Generals (Anatole Litvak, 1967) with Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif. By the mid-1960s Juliette Gréco had become one of the best-known faces in French showbiz, thanks to her role in the famous French television series Belphégor (which she began filming in 1965).

In later years she appeared in Lily, aime-moi/Lily, Love Me (Maurice Dugowson, 1975) with Patrick Dewaere, the fantasy film and remake Belphégor - Le fantôme du Louvre/Belphegor, Phantom of the Louvre (Jean-Paul Salomé, 2001) with Sophie Marceau, and Jedermanns Fest/Everyman's Feast (Fritz Lehner, 2002) opposite Klaus Maria Brandauer.

In 1982 she published her autobiography, Jujube. She suffered a heart attack on stage in her hometown Montpellier in 2001, but she recovered. Juliette Gréco has been married three times: to actor Philippe Lemaire (1953-1956); actor Michel Piccoli (1966-1977), and pianist Gérard Jouannest (since 1988). Her daughter, Laurence-Marie Lemaire, is an actress too.

In 2009 Juliette Gréco´s newest album, Je Me Souviens De Tout (I Remember Everything), was released. To mark the occasion, Gréco, accompanied by her husband Gérard Jouannest on the piano, and Jean-Louis Matinier on the accordion gave four concerts at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in early June. In 2015, she presented a new album, Merci, and started her farewell tour. Since then, despite some health problems, she continues to tour around the globe.

Juliette Gréco in Elena et les Hommes (1956)
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. FK 3088. Photo: Les Films Gibé / Franco London Film S.A. / Allianz Film. Publicity still for Elena et les Hommes/Elena and Her Men (Jean Renoir, 1956).

Juliette Gréco
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, offered by Les Carbones Korès Carboplane, no. 588. Publicity still for The Sun Also Rises (Henry King, 1957).

Juliette Greco
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 886.

Juliette Greco
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. 352. Photo: Filmpress, Zürich.

Juliette Greco
French promotion card by Philips.

Juliette Greco
French promotion card by RCA / Infini Editions. Photo: A. Mantovani.

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Glyn Brown (The Independent), RFIMusique, Europopmusic, Wikipedia (English and French), and IMDb.


Linda said...

Lovely. I knew of Greco growing up in NY, but didn't know the extent of her career, and her inspiration as a creative muse to so many well known artists and thinkers. Great clip from Bonjour Tristesse.

MrCachet said...

I love the history you give us every Friday!

Joy said...

What a life and still going strong. She appeared in concert in London last month, and the British press were in love with her. Still wearing black and still amazing. I always associate her with smoky jazz clubs and possibly a twist of French existentialism.
BLW my fellow Aardman fan I'm posting another card tomorrow for the weekend mailbox meme.

Postcardy said...

It looks like she must have been in quite a few English language movies. I am glad I could understand the language in the video.

Snap said...

Beautiful, striking woman. It is always fun to see what you'll have for us on Friday. Happy PFF!

Sheila said...

I really hope that when I reach her age I would feel I able to give live performances! Fantastic career.

Lyneen said...

What a tease... now I want to see the whole movie!!!!

TFS Happy PFF!

CHANTAL said...

Magnifiques portraits ! Le parcours de Juliette est tout à fait celui que vous décrivez, belle recherche.