It’s funny how signals and messages are sent. Saturday morning Bonaparte and I made our regularly timed call to his aunt, Danièle. She didn’t answer her phone and we figured she was out and about. Even though it was early we chalked it up to “That’s’ Danièle”! We would call her Sunday instead.
Saturday evening, after dinner, we decided to watch a couple of movies. We checked our queue on Hulu and decided on two movies, “Les Grandes Maneuvres” a light and silly French film about soldiers, pre-WWI, getting their sexy on, and Fellini’s “8 1/2”. Bonaparte wanted to watch the French film because Danièle’s husband, Yves Robert had a decent role in the film. “Les Grandes Maneuvres” also starred Gérard Philipe, who happened to be Danièle’s first teen-aged love.
How ironic that during her last evening we would be watching a movie that starred her first love, Girard Philipe, and her husband and last love, Yves Robert! (Philipe front and center with open mouth, Robert looking sternly at him)
The movie, silly enough, had a scene with both Philipe and Robert in the same frame. I mentioned to Bonaparte that it was so odd to see both Danièle’s first and last loves together. That was at around 11:00 PM our time. It was 5:00 AM Paris time. Shortly thereafter, we watched “8 1/2” for a short time because I fell asleep.
Sunday afternoon, Bonaparte left the house to go to the grocery store. It was when he was gone that we received the news that Danièle was no longer with us. To the French, Danièle Delorme was a beloved actress. To Bonaparte, she was a loving aunt and a second mother. She was my French mother and a wonder friend and confidante.
Her “autobiography” “Demain, tout commence”. It’s her favorite saying. “Tomorrow everything starts”. Her grandson, Hugo Gelin has titled his upcoming film the same in her honor!
We lost a wonderful woman that day. I’m not what you would call “close” with many people. Other than my children and Bonaparte, I am somewhat of a loner. I share a close bond with relatives and with good friends, but it’s hard to open up. Over the years, I’ve shut myself off from many people.
She looks fabulous as a blonde. She went for this look in the mid-60’s!
She was dramatic—which explains why she was such a great actress! She was fun and animated. She was feisty and a shrewd business woman.
Daniele Delorme, NOT Leslie Caron was the original Gigi. When I asked Daniele if she was upset about the film version with Caron, Daniele just shrugged–she never wanted to do Hollywood films. She loved staying in France!
She starred with quite the number of leading men–among them Jean Cocteau’s partner, Jean Marais. Daniele said he was such a nice and quiet man.
An early publicity pose with her husband Yves Robert
And from the French TV show–Madame Le Proviseur. THIS show was a riot–she played a principal of a high school–and she SMOKED in her office!!!
Today, I just want to write some really great stuff that I remember about her. OK?
The first time I met her was actually in the street outside of her office. We stopped by to pick up the keys to her apartment as we had just arrived in France from our overnight flight and needed some serious rest.
Her office at Zazi Films was filled with tons of memorabilia. It was fun to just look through all the treasures!
She welcomed me ant turned to Bonaparte in surprise as she exclaimed “Oh. She’s very pretty!” (Was she expecting a cyclops?) After a period of rest and a stroll around the neighborhood, we returned back at 55 quai des Grands Augustins to the apartment. THIS time, the door opened and the strong scent of cigarettes blended with Guerlain’s “L’heure Bleue” perfume greeted me. Attached to this magnificent mix of scents was Danièle, clothed from head to toe in Sonia Rykiel, wearing a smile from cheek to cheek. She grabbed me and planted a kiss on each side of my face, then hugged me and gave me what was most likely the greatest and most aggressive welcome I’ve ever received in my life! And her personality was just that—larger than life!
L’heure Bleue and cigs–I KNOW–the combo sounds disgusting but it really wasn’t that bad. Those two scents will ALWAYS remind me of Daniele!
From that moment on I knew we would have a close relationship.
Over the years she has been generous to a fault to me. She has followed the college education and careers of Jake, Roman and Oona and has always taken a great interest in my children.
I will miss the way she would have the dinner table set so beautifully hours before it was time to sit down to enjoy our incredibly long meals of wonderful food, great wine and even greater conversation.
The table in the little yellow dining nook off the yellow galley kitchen was always set so nicely. It’s because of Daniele that I’ve become obsessive about my own table looking special!
I will miss our morning routine of petit jejeûner in her chambre. Danièle in bed; propped up with her many pillows. I would wheel her tray of freshly brewed tea and fresh croissant to her. I would sit at the opposite end of her bed. Bonaparte would sit at her desk by the window overlooking the courtyard. We would discuss the day’s plans and decide what we would be doing for dinner. Our morning conversations were always happy ones.
Our morning views could include any number of surprises–like the workers across the courtyard constructing another floor to the apartment building!
I will miss walking over to Place Dauphine to get her car—the little one with the dents and that same scent of cigarettes and L’heure Bleue, and driving back to the apartment to pick her up and drive her to either her office or to run errands.
I will miss our little glasses of Porto together. It was our time—pre aperitif when we would both send Bonaparte down to Rue Bucci to get a couple of baguettes—to enjoy each other’s girly company and laugh over partaking in the wine that Bonaparte could not stand!
I swear to God. This photo was taken after a few glasses of Porto–neither of us are lookin’ that swell here! But we had fun together!
I will miss our Sunday lunches at Paparotti in Issey-les-Moulineaux. On a sunny, warm late spring day, dining al fresco was a fun treat. I will miss our slow dinners at Chez Paul on Place Dauphine and our easy meals at Bistro St. Andre—a familiar place where everyone was family!
We had many great lunches at Paparotti..and that wasn’t counting the food!
I will miss how gracious she was whenever anyone recognized her. She would always take the time to stop and chat with those who remembered her from her many films. One time we were at Maintenon and stopped at a café for lunch. The waitress recognized Danièle and had her autograph a menu. A few minutes later the waitress’ father appeared at the restaurant and started a very animated conversation with her. It was the funniest thing to me because they were talking as if they were old friends. It was a blast!
I will miss her funny and animated stories about Jean Gabin, Jean Marais, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, Charles Aznavour and Brigitte Bardot—and all of the guests she and Yves entertained at their estate outside of Paris.
I will miss her dramatic tellings of both sad and chilling stories her life during WWII. She was actually arrested by the Gestapo but escaped!!
I will miss our shopping trips—especially the ones to the Guerlain boutique where she gave me the opportunity to feel like Cinderella!
But mostly, I will just miss HER! To me—she was just Danièle. And I love her so much!
Me, Antoine Bourseiller, a great friend of Daniele’s, and Daniele causing all kinds of rambunctious trouble on Pont Neuf a few years back!
I’ll miss the little field trips Bonaparte, Daniele and I went on–like the trips to Giverny and the Fondation Louis Vuitton this past summer!
A fun afternoon at the Fondation Louis Vuitton…..
..and a relaxing day at Giverny will always bring great memories of her!
Here’s to Danièle Delorme!
You were a shining star during your time on earth and gave pleasure to those who knew and loved you and to those who only knew you through your films. You are still a shining star. But now, I can look up to the sky and spot the first twinkling star of the evening and know that it is you winking down on Bonaparte and me!
I know you are one of those twinkling stars Daniele! I see you!!!
In honor of the fun times we had sneaking Porto. “Oh Oh Cherie” Francoise Hardy!