French Film Star Danielle Darrieux, Who Replaced Katharine Hepburn in Coco, Dies at 100

Obituaries   French Film Star Danielle Darrieux, Who Replaced Katharine Hepburn in Coco, Dies at 100
She appeared in more than 100 films on both sides of the Atlantic in a career that spanned nine decades.
Danielle Darrieux
Danielle Darrieux

Danielle Darrieux, doyenne of the French film world who made occasional appearances in the U.S., has died at age 100.

She had only two Broadway credits, but one was a doozy. She made her Broadway debut in 1970 replacing Katharine Hepburn in the custom-written role of French couturier Coco Chanel in the André Previn–Alan Jay Lerner musical biography Coco. Unlike Hepburn, Darrieux was a trained singer and enjoyed a recording career in addition to her acting.

In his New York magazine review, the usually acerbic John Simon wrote of her, “If this summer you cannot afford a trip to Paris, of what is left of it, you might treat yourself to the imperishable essence of that city come to meet you....”

Coco ran only two months without the American star, but Darrieux enjoyed the experience enough to return to the Great White Way in 1972 with the musical Ambassador, which ran just short of a week. That was enough for the French star, who never returned to the New York stage.

Darrieux, known to fans as “Divine Danielle,” appeared in more than 100 films over nine successive decades, starting when she was 14 in 1931. Her French-language hits included Anatole Litvak’s Mayerling (1936), Les Demoiselles De Rochefort (1967), Huit Femmes (2002), Persepolis (2007), and perhaps her best-known role, as Emma Breitkopf in Max Ophüls’ La Ronde (1950).

She also traveled to Hollywood for appearances in films including The Rage Of Paris (1938); Rich, Young, and Pretty (1951); 5 Fingers (1952); and Alexander The Great, opposite Richard Burton (1956).

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