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Leslie Caron memoir - 'Thank Heaven'

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Should be interesting reading.

After she was discovered by legendary French choreographer Roland Petit and asked to join his Ballet des Champs-Elysees (which also included pre-Balanchine muse Violette Verdy and an unknown Brigitte Bardot), Caron was once again whisked away by Gene Kelly to star in one of the greatest movie musicals of all time, An American in Paris.

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Nice book. Caron has interesting things to sayabout her upbringing and the displacements caused by World War II in France, as well as the conditions of deprivation in Europe after the war. Her ballet studies began with Preobrajenska during the war. She joins Petit’s company, dances with Babilee, and rooms with one Nelly Guillerm and her mother on tour. (Apparently Mama Guillerm was not your dream roomie.)

In its later stages the book suffers from a certain sameness that tends to affect most showbiz bios/autobios and can make many of them heavy going unless you have a rooting interest in the star or some other particular reason for reading. The rise to fame, time on the top, decline and fall, inappropriate liaisons, substance abuse, recovery, it’s all here, but Caron is cleverer and writes better than many and she’s come up with a pretty good book. I enjoyed the account of her time married to Peter Hall, then but a beardless boy, and her famous-people-I-have-known stories (Jean Renoir, Isherwood, Truffaut, et al.). The book has some typos, especially where names are concerned – it’s Nelly Guillerm, not Nellie, etc.

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An interview with Caron, in which she talks about her career and the new production of "An American in Paris." Very gracious about Leanne Cope.

Caron is one of the very few people who can say they danced with Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Rudolf Nureyev, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. But acting, she said, has given her the most satisfaction. “It’s always a discovery for myself. You invest in someone else, and there is a transference that happens when you learn the intimate makeup of another person. It’s a form of knowledge; it’s almost like being a psychoanalyst. You suddenly realize what another person is made of, and that’s very thrilling.”

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H-m-mm--a great quote. I always preferred her acting to her dancing.......

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I tend to agree, atm711, and Caron might agree, as well. In the postwar years life was tough for a young dancer in Europe, and her book says that when she came to the States the decision to concentrate on acting rather than dance was fairly easy. She may also have been considering career longevity. In Caron's most famous musical role, Gigi, there isn't any dancing!

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Her early ballet career got off to a great start with the Petit company in Paris. We, on the other side of the Atlantic were mesmerized with the wonderful photos of her and Jean

Babilee in "Oedipus and the Sphinx" in Richard Buckles magazine "Ballet". Well, "she could have been a contender" if she had stayed in France and not gone to MGM.

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They made quite the pair, didn't they?

jeanbabilee_lesliecaron.jpg

According to Caron, after she committed suicide as the Sphinx Babilée used to give her ponytail a tug to make sure she was really dead.

Caron said in her book she was madly in love with him, as who wouldn't be. He was married, and the hopelessness of the situation was one reason the Hollywood offer looked good.

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Ah, who could blame her......

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