2 Sep 2017

Mireille Darc, a Role Model for French Women

Mireille Darc was more than a French actress and a household name. I would go as far as describe her as France's sweetheart - and by the same token as the understated embodiment of the French woman inside and out. With a first name that sings the sunny South of France (my mum's name!) and a surname that is a tribute to Joan of Arc, you are off to a good start!

Mireille Darc, the quintessential French woman!

Mireille was a leading actress in her younger days, a valeur sûre: effortless, true to self, a natural. Yet her film portfolio might not be considered consequential by those cinema purists who shun popular modern-day stories and comedies of errors about ordinary life. No superheroes, special effects, Shakespearean tirades or costumed dramas in sight. What interested Mireille was to portray life as it happens, without artifice.

Mireille Darc and Alain Delon: each other's biggest love in life!

A word of caution: to confine Mireille to her movie acting days would be to rob her of her vibrant off-screen personality, philanthropy, grace and kindness, her business acumen, her second career as a successful TV documentary-maker, and her involvement in TV series and theatre roles later in life. The smouldering beauty was also a muse - not least to the love of her life, the incandescent French actor Alain Delon, and a loving second mum to her stepchildren.

On screen and off screen (pict source)

Mireille was driven: a plate-spinner, fingers in many pies lady. Starry-eyed and an award-winning dancer, she left her native Provence at the age of 21 for Paris where she intended to make it. She never looked back!

Unlike many of her contemporaries (Jeanne Moreau, Brigitte Bardot, Claudia Cardinale), Mireille remained timeless, ageless. She kept her slender figure, impeccable dress sense, elegance and positive attitude. Not to mention her fresh face, trademark sleek blonde bob, beautiful gleaming smile and a glint in her eye that made her the endearing mother, sister, best friend and confidante all along. She didn't let age get in her way: who would have guessed she was in her late 70s?! She kept her health problems under wraps, behind close doors, only for the very close few; she wouldn't have allowed it to vanquish her.

Even after splitting up in 1983, those two remained close till the very end! (pict source)

Mireille's legacy is multi-fold: she is a case in point, not only to young actresses but also to women in general. She shows us how to incorporate longevity into a career, stay grounded, focused, true to self, open to opportunities that ring true to us. Follow your heart, love with all your might, stay loyal. Stay strong and do not get mislaid by the deadly temptations of the art world, excesses and burn out. Ironically very few actresses paid their respects to Mireille on her funeral yesterday. Yet the populace was there, crammed outside the gates of the Saint-Sulpice Church in Paris: they didn't let her down! Mireille was one of us and never left us. She lives on in our hearts.

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