Yves Montand (Yves Montand)

Yves Montand

Montand was born Ivo Livi in Monsummano Terme, Italy, to Giuseppina (née Simoni) and Giovanni Livi, a broommaker. Giuseppina was a devout Catholic, while Giovanni held strong Communist beliefs. Montand’s family left for France in 1923 because of Italy’s Fascist regime. He grew up in Marseille, where, as a young man, he worked in his sister’s beauty salon (Salon de Coiffure), and later on the docks. He began a career in show business as a music-hall singer. In 1944, he was discovered by Édith Piaf in Paris and she made him part of her act.  Montand went on to international recognition as a singer and actor, starring in numerous films. His recognizably crooner songs, especially those about Paris, became instant classics. He was one of the most famous performers at Bruno Coquatrix’s famous Paris Olympia music hall, and toured with musicians including Didi Duprat. In October 1947, he sang Mais qu’est-ce que j’ai ! at the Théâtre de l’Étoile (music by Henri Betti and lyrics by Édith Piaf). The composer of this song had him offer also sing C’est si bon he had written but Yves Montand refused. Following the success of the recording of this song by the Sœurs Étienne in 1948, he decided to record it.  During his career, Montand acted in a number of American motion pictures as well as on Broadway. He was nominated for a César Award for “Best Actor” in 1980 for I comme Icare and again in 1984 for Garçon! In 1986, after his international box-office draw power had fallen off considerably, the 65-year-old Montand gave one of his most memorable performances, as the scheming uncle in the two-part film: Jean de Florette, co-starring Gérard Depardieu, and Manon des Sources, co-starring Emmanuelle Béart. The film was a worldwide critical hit and raised Montand’s profile in the US, where he made an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman.

In 1951, he married Simone Signoret, and they co-starred in several films throughout their careers. The marriage was, by all accounts, fairly harmonious, lasting until her death in 1985, although Montand had a number of well-publicized affairs, notably with Marilyn Monroe, with whom he starred in one of her last films, Let’s Make Love.  Montand’s only child, Valentin, his son by his second wife, Carole Amiel, was born in 1988. In a paternity suit that rocked France, another woman accused Montand of being the father of her daughter and went to court to obtain a DNA sample from him. Montand refused, but the woman persisted after his death. In a court ruling that made international headlines, the woman won the right to have Montand exhumed and a sample taken. The results indicated that he was probably not the girl’s biological father.  Signoret and Montand had a home in Autheuil-Authouillet, Normandy, where the main village street is named after him,  In his later years he maintained a home in St Paul de Vence, Provence until his death from a heart attack. In an interview, Jean-Jacques Beineix said, “[H]e died on the set [of IP5: The Island of Pachyderms]… On the very last day, after his very last shot. It was the very last night and we were doing retakes. He finished what he was doing and then he just died. And the film tells the story of an old man who dies from a heart attack, which is the same thing that happened!” Montand is interred next to his first wife, Simone Signoret, in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.  In 2004, Catherine Allegret, the daughter of Montand’s first wife Simone Signoret, told on her biography “Un Monde a L’envers” (A World Upside Down), that she had been sexually abused by her stepfather since the age of 5 and that he assaulted her well into adulthood.

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Born

  • October, 13, 1921
  • Monsummano Terme, Italy

Died

  • November, 09, 1991
  • Senlis, France
  • Senlis, Oise

Cause of Death

  • heart attack

Cemetery

  • Cimetière du Père Lachaise
  • Paris, France

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