Juliette Gréco starred in famous films without ever finding the fame that the song brought her, but kept France in suspense with “Belphégor” for long weeks.
The television series in which she played the lead role, the “ghost” wandering in the Louvre, was a huge hit on the small screen in 1965. Before that, Juliette Gréco was the muse of a powerful Hollywood producer, Darryl Zanuck who tried the Hollywood adventure. On the set of a 1957 Henry King film in which she played a role, “The Sun Also Rises”, she met the producer in the United States. Darryl Zanuck was deeply in love and dreamed of making his partner a Hollywood star. Juliette Gréco played 1958 in “Bonjour tristesse”, an adaptation of the novel by Françoise Sagan, by Otto Preminger. She also appeared in “The Roots of Heaven” (1958) directed by John Huston and in “Drama in a Mirror” (1960) directed by Richard Fleischer opposite Orson Welles. The following year she meets Richard Fleischer for “The Great Risk”. But the love story between “the muse of existentialism” and the respected American producer is coming to an end. “Everything has fallen apart,” said Juliette Gréco, “I’m a totally wild animal. You mustn’t try to lock me up”, not even in a “golden cage”.
Gréco then resumed her singing career, but never broke off with the cinema, where she had started as a nun in 1948. In 1949 she played in “Au king des cieux” by Julien Duvivier, then in “Orphée” (1950) by Jean Cocteau. On the set of “When you read this letter” by Jean-Pierre Melville (1953) she met her first husband, the actor Philippe Lemaire, whom she had before her divorce in 1956. “The blonde, delightful, laughing Philippe Lemaire. The very good actor too pretty”, she wrote in her memory book “Jujube”. In 1966 she fell in love again with an actor, Michel Piccoli, whom she married. They will divorce after ten years together. In a book published in 2015, Piccoli (who died last May) spoke of her love at first sight: “I said to myself: What’s going on? Amazing! Wonderful!”. “One day she said to me: + go away + almost like this. It was painful on my side anyway.”
Music will ultimately triumph in the very heart of Juliette Gréco, who fell in love with the jazz icon, the American trumpeter Miles Davis, even in her youth: she becomes the accompanist, then in 1989 the wife of the composer and former pianist of Jacques Brel. Gérard Jouannest (died 2018), who composed for her and accompanied her on the piano since 1968. (Belga / Belga)