Alain Fabien Maurice Marcel Delon (; born 8 November 1935) is a French actor and businessman. He is known as one of Europe's most prominent actors and screen sex symbols from the 1960s and 1970s. He achieved critical acclaim for roles in films such as ''Rocco and His Brothers'' (1960), ''Plein Soleil'' (1960), ''L'Eclisse'' (1962), ''The Leopard'' (1963), ''The Yellow Rolls-Royce'' (1965), ''Lost Command'' (1966) and ''Le Samouraï'' (1967). Over the course of his career Delon worked with many well-known directors, including Luchino Visconti, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Melville, Michelangelo Antonioni and Louis Malle. He acquired Swiss citizenship in 1999.

Early life

Alain Delon was born in Sceaux, Seine (now Hauts-de-Seine), Île-de-France, an upscale suburb of Paris. His parents, Édith (née Arnold; 1911–1995) and Fabien Delon (1904–1977), divorced when Delon was four. Both remarried and as a result, Delon has a half-sister and two half-brothers. His paternal grandmother was Corsican, from Prunelli-di-Fiumorbo. When his parents divorced, Delon was sent to live with foster parents; after the foster parents died, Delon's parents took shared custody of him, but the arrangement proved unsatisfactory. He attended a Catholic boarding school, the first of several schools from which he was expelled because of unruly behavior. Delon left school at 14, and worked for a brief time at his stepfather's butcher shop. He enlisted in the French Navy three years later, aged 17, and during 1953–1954 he served as a ''fusilier marin'' in the First Indochina War. He has said that, of his four years of military service, he spent 11 months in a military jail for being "undisciplined".

Early career

In 1956, after being dishonorably discharged from the military, Delon returned to France. He had little money, and got by on whatever employment he could find. He spent time working as a waiter, a porter, a secretary and a sales assistant. During this time he became friends with the actress Brigitte Auber, and joined her on a trip to the Cannes Film Festival, where his film career would begin.

First film roles

At Cannes, Delon was seen by a talent scout for David O. Selznick. After a screen test Selznick offered him a contract, provided he learn English. Delon returned to Paris to study the language, but when he met French director Yves Allégret, he was convinced that he should stay in France to begin his career. Selznick allowed Delon to cancel his contract, and Allégret gave him his debut in the film with Edwige Feuillère, ''Quand la femme s'en mêle'' (1957) (''Send a Woman When the Devil Fails''). Marc Allégret cast him in ''Be Beautiful But Shut Up'' (1958), which featured a young Jean-Paul Belmondo. He was then given his first lead, supporting Romy Schneider in the period romance ''Christine'' (1958), based on a novel by Arthur Schnitzler. He and Schneider began a highly publicised romance in real life. The film was the seventeenth most popular movie at the French box office that year.

French stardom

Delon was given the lead in the comedy ''Women Are Weak'' (1959). This was a big hit in France and was the first of Delon's films to be seen in America. Delon made some personal appearances in New York to promote the movie. He was a known friend of Serbian-born gangster Vojislav Stanimirovic.

International fame

Delon next made two films that ensured his international reputation. In 1960, he appeared in René Clément's ''Plein Soleil,'' released in the US as ''Purple Noon'', which was based on the Patricia Highsmith novel ''The Talented Mr. Ripley''. Delon played protagonist Tom Ripley to critical acclaim; Highsmith was a fan of his portrayal. The movie was a hit in France and on the art house circuit in English-speaking countries. He then played the title role in Luchino Visconti's ''Rocco and His Brothers'' (1960). Critic Bosley Crowther of ''The New York Times'' wrote that Delon's work was "touchingly pliant and expressive". Delon made his stage debut in 1961 in the John Ford play '''Tis Pity She's a Whore'' alongside Romy Schneider in Paris. Visconti directed the production which broke box office records. He was reunited with René Clément in the Italian comedy film about fascism, ''The Joy of Living'' (1961). It was a minor success. More popular was an all-star anthology film ''Famous Love Affairs'' (1961); Delon's segment cast him as Albert III, Duke of Bavaria, opposite Brigitte Bardot. Around this time Delon was mentioned as a possibility for the lead in ''Lawrence of Arabia''. Peter O'Toole was cast instead, but then Delon was signed by Seven Arts to a four-picture deal, including a big budget international movie of the Marco Polo story and ''The King of Paris'', about Alexandre Dumas. Neither project came to fruition. Instead he was cast by Michelangelo Antonioni opposite Monica Vitti in ''L'Eclisse'' (1962), a major critical success, although audiences were small. More popular was another all-star anthology film, ''The Devil and the Ten Commandments'' (1963); Delon's segment cast him with Danielle Darrieux.


Producer Jacques Bar was making a heist film with Jean Gabin with backing from MGM, titled ''Any Number Can Win'' (1963). Gabin's co-star was meant to be Jean-Louis Trintignant until Delon lobbied Bar for the role. He took the film's distribution rights in certain countries instead of a straight salary. Because this had never been done before in France, this was known as "Delon's method." The gamble paid off well, with Jean Gabin later claiming that Delon earned 10 times more money than he did as a result. However, in 1965, Delon claimed "no one else has tried it since and made money." Nonetheless, the experience gave Delon a taste for producing. He also signed a five-picture deal with MGM, of which ''Any Number Can Win'' was the first. His reputation was further enhanced when he worked with Visconti again for ''Il Gattopardo'' (''The Leopard'') with Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale. This was the seventh biggest hit of the year in France; ''Any Number Can Win'' was the sixth. ''The Leopard'' was also widely screened in the U.S. through 20th Century Fox. Delon was now one of the most popular stars in France. He starred in a swashbuckler, ''The Black Tulip'' (1964), another hit. ''Les Félins'' (1964), which reunited him with Rene Clement and co-starred Jane Fonda, was filmed in French and English versions. The latter was distributed by MGM, but it was not a success. In 1964, the Cinémathèque Française held a showcase of Delon's films and Delon started a production company, Delbeau Production, with Georges Beaume. They produced a film called ''The Unvanquished'' (''L'insoumis'') (1964), where Delon played an OAS assassin. It had to be re-edited because of legal issues. Despite being distributed by MGM, audiences were small.

Hollywood star

Typecast as a "Latin Lover", Delon spent the next few years focused on making it in Hollywood. He was quoted in 1965 as saying: He started with a small part in an all-star anthology for MGM titled ''The Yellow Rolls-Royce'' (1965), opposite Shirley MacLaine. It was popular although Delon had little to do. He had his first English-language lead in ''Once a Thief'', where he co-starred with Ann-Margret. It was based on a novel by Zekial Marko who had written ''Any Number Can Win'', but it was not as successful. It was financed by MGM who announced Delon would appear in a Western ''Ready for the Tiger'' directed by Sam Peckinpah, but the film was never made. Instead, Delon signed a three-picture deal with Columbia, for whom he appeared in the big budget action film ''Lost Command'' (1966), playing a member of the French Foreign Legion, alongside Anthony Quinn and Claudia Cardinale. The studio also announced that he would appear in the biopic ''Cervantes'', but this was never made. Universal Studios used Delon in a Western, ''Texas Across the River'', opposite Dean Martin. Ray Stark wanted to use him in ''The Night of the Iguana'' and ''This Property Is Condemned''. He did not appear in either film but was in that producer's ''Is Paris Burning?'', directed by René Clement, playing Jacques Chaban-Delmas. This was a massive hit in France but performed disappointingly at the US box office – as did all of Delon's Hollywood-financed films. Delon remained a massive star in France. Along with Steve McQueen and Sean Connery he was one of the biggest stars in Japan. However he could not make headway in the U.S.

Return to France

After six Hollywood movies Delon returned to France to make ''The Last Adventure'' opposite Lino Ventura. It was one of Delon's most popular films of the 1960s but was not popular in North America. He was meant to work again with Visconti in ''The Stranger'' but did not end up playing it. Instead he appeared on stage in Paris, ''Les Yeux Creves'' and made ''Le Samouraï'' with Jean-Pierre Melville, which became another classic. He played an amnesiac in ''Diabolically Yours'' (1968) for Julien Duvivier and had a role in another all-star anthology, ''Spirits of the Dead'' (1968); his segment was directed by Louis Malle, and co-starred Brigitte Bardot. Delon had another attempt at English-language cinema with ''The Girl on a Motorcycle'' (1968) with Marianne Faithfull for director Jack Cardiff. It was a surprise hit in Britain. Far more popular at the French box office was ''Farewell Friend'' (''Adieu l'ami''), where Delon and Charles Bronson played former legionnaires who get involved in a heist. The film helped turn Charles Bronson into a genuine star in Europe.

Marković affair and gangster movies

While making the 1969 thriller ''La Piscine'' (''The Swimming Pool'') with Romy Schneider, Delon's friend and bodyguard Stevan Marković was found murdered in a rubbish dumpster near Paris. The police investigation went on to reveal allegations of sex parties involving celebrities such as Delon and members of government including future French Prime Minister Georges Pompidou, whose wife, Claude Pompidou, was allegedly the focus of a series of compromising photos at one such party. Corsican crime boss François Marcantoni, a friend of Delon, was suspected of involvement. The affair gained notoriety throughout France and in the French press as the "Marković affair". In a 1969 BBC interview, Delon was questioned about his alleged involvement in the death of Marković, rumours of his involvement in sex parties, and Delon's own sexual tastes. Delon then starred in a series of gangster films. First was ''Jeff'' (1969), for his own production company, Adel. ''The Sicilian Clan'' (1969) teamed him with Lino Ventura and Jean Gabin, and was a blockbuster. Even more popular was ''Borsalino'' (1970), which Delon produced and in which he co-starred opposite Jean-Paul Belmondo. Neither of these broke through in the US the way Delon hoped.Kramer, Carol. "Top Sex Symbols of French Films Feud at Drop of Hat", ''Chicago Tribune'', 16 August 1970, pg. E-1. Neither did ''The Red Circle'', despite Delon appearing with Yves Montand. For a change of pace, he produced a romantic drama, ''The Love Mates'' (1971), which was not a success. Neither was the comedy ''Easy, Down There!'' (1971).

More international films

In the early 1970s, Delon made another attempt at the English speaking market. ''The Assassination of Trotsky'' (1972) for Joseph Losey was poorly received but ''Red Sun'' (1972), with Charles Bronson and Toshiro Mifune, did well. In France he appeared opposite Simone Signoret in ''The Widow Couderc'' (1971). He made his third film with Melville, ''Un flic'' (1972). He produced and starred in a romantic drama, ''Indian Summer'' (1972), then made some thrillers: ''Traitement de choc'' (1973), and ''Tony Arzenta'' (1973). In 1973, he recorded a duet with Dalida, "Paroles, paroles", a popular French-language version of the Italian song "Parole parole". He tried again for Hollywood stardom with ''Scorpio'' (1973), with Burt Lancaster for director Michael Winner. It was only a minor hit. In France, he made ''The Burned Barns'' (1973) and ''Creezy'' (1974). He produced ''Two Men in Town'' (1974) which re-teamed him with Jean Gabin, and ''Borsalino & Co.'' (1974), a sequel to his earlier hit. After another gangster thriller, ''Icy Breasts'' (1974), Delon returned to his first swashbuckler since ''The Black Tulip'', playing the title character in the 1975 Italian-French film ''Zorro''. He made some more crime filmes: ''The Gypsy'' (1975), ''Flic Story'' (1975) (with Jean Louis Triginant), ''Boomerang'' (1976) and ''Armaguedon'' (1976). In 1976, Delon starred in ''Monsieur Klein'', for which he was nominated for the César Award. It was back to crime for another series of thrillers in which he starred as well as produced: ''Man in a Hurry'' (1977), ''Death of a Corrupt Man'' (1977), ''Le Gang'' (1977), ''Attention, The Kids Are Watching'' (1978). In 1979, Delon stated only a quarter of his business activities involve films: In 1979 he made a final attempt at Hollywood stardom, signing with agent Sue Mengers and starring in ''The Concorde ... Airport '79'' (1979). The film was not a big success. Delon returned to French films which he produced: ''The Medic'' (1979) and ''Three Men to Kill'' (1980).

Later career

1980s and 1990s

''Teheran 43'' (1981) was a change of pace. In this big Soviet production he co-starred with Claude Jade and Curd Jürgens in a co-starring role beside Russian actors. Then it was back to crime: ''For a Cop's Hide'' (1981), ''Le choc'' (1982), ''Le Battant'' (1983) (which Delon directed). He was awarded the Best Actor César Award for his role in Bertrand Blier's ''Notre histoire'' (1984), and portrayed the aristocratic dandy Baron de Charlus in a film adaptation of Marcel Proust's novel ''Swann in Love'' in the same year. The thrillers resumed: ''Parole de flic'' (1986), ''The Passage'', ''Let Sleeping Cops Lie'' (1988), and ''Dancing Machine'' (1990). One notable film during this time was Jean-Luc Godard's ''Nouvelle Vague'' in 1990, in which Delon played twins. Delon's last major role was in Patrice Leconte's ''Une chance sur deux'' in 1998, another box office disappointment. Delon announced his decision to give up acting in 1997, although he still occasionally accepts roles. Delon acquired Swiss citizenship on 23 September 1999, and the company managing products sold under his name is based in Geneva. He resides in Chêne-Bougeries in the canton of Geneva.

2000s and 2010s

In 2001, Delon starred in the French television drama ''Fabio Montale''. He played an ageing policeman dressed in stylish clothes, a "signature Delon" role for audiences. The show was a big hit. In 2003, Delon tried to recreate the success of ''Fabio Montale'' and produced and starred in another French television police drama, ''Frank Riva''. It did well but less so than ''Fabio Montale''. He starred, in 2008, as Jules Cesar in the box-office hit ''Asterix aux jeux Olympiques'' which co-starred Gérard Depardieu. Around this time he mostly took roles in TV movies and also played some roles on the French stage. He directed a TV movie himself in 2008 co-starring Anouk Aimee, titled ''Love Letters'' based on a play by A.R. Gurney. In 2018, after a seven-year hiatus from cinema, Delon was planning to star in a new movie, titled ''La Maison Vide'', co-starring Juliette Binoche and directed by Patrice Leconte. However, in November 2018 the French media announced that the project was canceled. No specific reason was given for the cancelation. His last roles to date have been in the 2011 television movie ''Une journée ordinaire'', in the 2012 Russian production ''S Novym godom, Mamy!'' in which he starred as himself and he again appeared as himself in the 2019 movie ''Toute Ressemblance'' as a guest in a talkshow. In April 2019, at 83, Delon released a new single. The track, titled ''Je n'aime que toi'', was composed by Rick Allison and Julia Paris. Already in 1973 Delon scored a huge international hit duetting with Egyptian-French singer Dalida on the song ''Paroles...paroles''. In 1983 he collaborated with Shirley Bassey on the international hit song ''Thought I'd ring you''. At the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, which was held from 14 to 25 May, Delon was the recipient of an honorary Palme d'Or for his long standing career in the movies. A retrospective of some of his films played at the festival. There was much controversy surrounding Delon receiving this award because of his presumed remarks he made concerning the treatment of women during his career and in his private life. Thierry Fremaux, the artistic director of the festival, told the Cannes audience during a homage at the ceremony, "We know that intolerance is back, we're being asked to believe that if we all think the same it will protect us from the risk of being disliked or being wrong, but Alain Delon is not afraid of being wrong, being disliked, and he doesn't think like others, and he's not afraid of being alone". "For me, it's more than the end of a career. It's the end of a life. It feels that I'm receiving a posthumous tribute while being alive," said Delon. He received the award from his daughter Anouchka Delon.

Business career

In the 1970s, Delon expanded his interests. He bought trotters and promoted fights. Since the formation of a perfume label in his name, Delon has had a variety of products sold under his name including wristwatches, clothing, eyewear, stationery and cigarettes. Delon's sunglasses brand became particularly popular in Hong Kong after actor Chow Yun-fat wore them in the 1986 crime film ''A Better Tomorrow'' (as well as two sequels). Delon reportedly wrote a letter thanking Chow for helping the sunglasses sell out in the region. The film's director John Woo has acknowledged Delon as one of his idols and wrote a short essay on ''Le Samourai'' as well as ''Le Cercle Rouge'' for the Criterion Collection DVD releases. In 2009 and 2015, Christian Dior used images of the young Alain Delon and excerpts of his 1960s films ''The Swimming Pool'' and ''The Last Adventure'' respectively in the Eau Sauvage cologne advertising campaigns.

Personal life

On 20 March 1959, Delon was engaged to actress Romy Schneider, whom he met when they co-starred in the film ''Christine'' (1958). During their relationship, he had an affair with German actress, singer and model Nico. On 11 August 1962, Nico gave birth to a son, (Ari Päffgen) "Ari", fathered by Delon. The child was raised mostly by Delon's mother and stepfather. In December 1963, Schneider and Delon decided to break the engagement. On 13 August 1964, Delon married Nathalie Barthélémy. Their son, Anthony Delon, was born in September. In late 1967, Delon filed for divorce but they continued to live under the same roof. The couple divorced on 14 February 1969. In the mid-1960s Delon had a short relationship with Dalida; the two had been friends since first meeting in Paris in 1955, where they were neighbors in a building located in the Champs-Élysées. In 1968, during the shooting of the film ''Jeff'', Delon met French actress Mireille Darc with whom he started a relationship that lasted until 1982. Later on, he had short relationships with the actress Anne Parillaud, then with Catherine Bleynie, ex-wife of Didier Pironi. In 1987, Delon met Dutch model on the set of the music video for his song "Comme au cinéma" and started a relationship. They had two children: Anouchka Delon (25 November 1990) and Alain-Fabien Delon (18 March 1994). The relationship ended in 2001. Delon lives in Chêne-Bougeries in the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland, and Douchy, Loiret, France. During an interview in 2013, Delon came out in support of the French far-right political party National Front, saying "The National Front, like the MCG eneva Citizens' Movementin Geneva, is very important ... I encourage it and I perfectly understand it". Alain Delon was good friends with, among others, Argentine world champion boxer Carlos Monzon. In September 2019, Ari Boulogne (Christian Aaron Boulogne) sued Alain Delon for recognition of paternity.

Markovic affair

On 1 October 1968, in the village of Élancourt, Yvelines, on the western outskirts of Paris, the body of Stevan Marković, ex-bodyguard of Delon, was found in a public dump. Alain Delon and a Corsican gangster François Marcantoni came under investigation. One of the factors pointing in that direction was a letter from Stevan Marković to his brother Aleksandar, in which he wrote: "If I get killed, it's 100% the fault of Alain Delon and his godfather Francois Marcantoni." Later, the investigation involved the former French Prime Minister (and later President) Georges Pompidou after a few press articles and a testimony of Borivoj Ackov. He testified that he was present at parties with Pompidou's wife, Marković and Delon. The death of Stevan Marković provoked a lot of rumours, suggesting the existence of group sex photos with Pompidou's wife. Pompidou himself accused Louis Wallon and Henri Capitant for using the French espionage service SDECE with an aim to set him up. After becoming President of the Republic, he named Alexandre de Marenches as the head of the SDECE in order to reform it. Assisted by Michel Roussin, his principal private secretary, de Marenches expelled a "secret agent" involved in the investigation of Jean-Charles Marchiani.

Other legal troubles

In 1969, Delon was sentenced to four months in jail by an Italian court for assaulting an Italian photographer.

De Gaulle document

In 1970, it was reported that Delon, through a friend, Mr Stan, purchased a copy of the original manuscript of Charles de Gaulle's 1940 speech to the French encouraging them to resist the Germans. Delon paid 300,000 francs for the manuscript and then returned it to the government.


Delon suffered a stroke in June 2019. He was admitted to hospital after experiencing dizziness and headaches. In August 2019, he was recovering in a Swiss hospital.


Delon's favourite actor is John Garfield. He also admires Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando and Robert Walker.

Honours and cultural impact

* At the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, he received the Honorary Palme d'Or. * At the 45th Berlin International Film Festival, he won the Honorary Golden Bear. * At the 2008 César Awards on 22 February 2008, he presented the César Award for Best Actress to Marion Cotillard for ''La Vie En Rose''. * Delon appears on the cover of the 1986 album ''The Queen Is Dead'' by The Smiths. * He was made ''Officier'' (Officer) of the Ordre national du Mérite in 1995. * He was made ''Chevalier'' (Knight) of the Légion d'honneur on 21 February 1991. He was promoted to ''Officier'' (Officer) in 2005. * The song "Beautiful Killer" on Madonna's twelfth studio album ''MDNA'' is a tribute to Delon. * The song "A Look From The Screen" by Russian band Nautilus Pompilius is a tribute to Delon.

Selected filmography

See also

* List of French actors * List of animal rights advocates * List of Swiss people


External links

"The perils of trans-national stardom: Alain Delon in Hollywood cinema" by Ginette Vincendeau
{{DEFAULTSORT:Delon, Alain Category:1935 births Category:20th-century French male actors Category:20th-century French people Category:21st-century French male actors Category:21st-century Swiss people Category:Best Actor César Award winners Category:Honorary Golden Bear recipients Category:French emigrants to Switzerland Category:French male film actors Category:French male stage actors Category:French male television actors Category:French racehorse owners and breeders Category:French military personnel of the First Indochina War Category:French people of Corsican descent Category:Living people Category:Naturalised citizens of Switzerland Category:Officiers of the Légion d'honneur Category:Officers of the National Order of Merit (France) Category:People from Sceaux, Hauts-de-Seine Category:Sportspeople from Hauts-de-Seine