Some may think that French actor had a dream life, but it hasn't always been the case. His path to the top was paved with obstacles, such as teenage years spent in foster care, expulsion from school, rapid job changes and divorces. Yet in the 1960s, he was the man who defined the French style and became the favorite of the audience. The one thing he never managed, though, was to conquer Hollywood. Today, the big ladies' man celebrates his 85th birthday.
His family was one big mess
Alain Delon was born on November 8, 1953, in a suburb of Paris. His parents got divorced when he was only four years old. That was where his family issues started. After the divorce, he was sent to live with foster parents, who soon died, and so Delon was entrusted to alternating custody of both parents, which turned out to be a bad decision. He was expelled from several schools for bad behavior and his results were not that great either. He left school at the age of 14.
Three years later he enlisted in the French Navy and served in the First Indochina War for a while. Of his four years of military service, he spent 11 months in military prison for undisciplined behavior.
Waiter, porter and salesman
After his dismissal from the army, he had very little money, so he took any job he could get. He shortly worked as a waiter, a porter, a salesman or a secretary. During this time, he became close to actress Brigitte Auber and accompanied her on a trip to Cannes, while a film festival was taking place there. That's where his acting career began.
First film roles
At the film festival, he was noticed by producer David O. Selznik, who offered him a contract on the condition that he learn English. That wasn't an offer Delon could refuse, and so he returned to Paris to study English.
In 1958, he was cast in the film Be Beautiful But Shut Up, where he appeared alongside young Jean-Paul Belmondo. In the very same year, he scored his first major role in the period piece Christie alongside Romy Schneider, with whom he also had a public affair in real life. The film became one of the most popular movies in France at the turn of the 1960s.
His popularity abroad skyrocketed too
Next came two films that catapulted Delona to the very top, and he soon gained a great reputation abroad. In 1960, he played the protagonist Tom Ripley in Purple Noon, which became a hit in France as well as in English-speaking countries.
His performance in Rocco and His Brothers (1960) was praised by many film critics.
"His work was touchingly supple and expressive,"
wrote Bosley Crowther of the New York Times.
He wanted to be Hollywood's darling
At that time, Delon was very often cast in the roles of "Latino lovers", and was trying to conquer Hollywood as such for several years.
"My dream is to do one picture a year in America and one in Europe... But America is the top, the last step. It's a kind of consecration... If you want to be an international star you must establish yourself in American pictures, because only they will get adequate world wide distribution,”
said Alain Delon. But even though he was a huge star in France and one of the biggest stars in Japan, he never quite made it in his dream America. At least not the way he'd hoped to. And there has been a number of attempts: The Assassination of Trotsky (1972), The Hurried Man (1977) or Concorde - Airport 1979 (1979). However, none of those fims has been a big hit in America.
He simply loved women
Delon was engaged to actress Romy Schneider for a long time, but he was cheating on her with the German model Nico. They had a son Christian together, but the relationship didn't last long either.
The era when he was rapidly changing one famous partner for another lasted almost twenty-five years, until he met the Dutch model Rosalia Van Breemen, with whom he had two more children. However, their relationship ended in 2001. Since then, many women have appeared by his side, but the always disappeared just as fast.
Legendary quotes by Alain Delon
Women played a significant role in his life. The actor himself confirmed this on multiple occasions.
"America has turned into a country completely covered by ice, everything is frozen there. If you want to eat something, you have to defrost it first. Women are the same there - you have to defrost them at least a day before the intended flirtation."