French film icon Anna Karina dies at 79
Dutch-French actress, writer, and singer Anna Karina (born Hanne Karin Bayer), known for making French new wave films, has died at 79. Her agent Laurent Balandras confirmed the news via Twitter on Saturday.
“A legend, and an icon. Anna Karina died yesterday of cancer. Writing these words is unbearable,” Balandras wrote in French.
Karina began her career singing in cabarets and modeling in her native Denmark as a teenager. She sought out a new life in Paris in 1958, where she was discovered by a talent scout at a cafe and thus began her career as a successful model, counting Coco Chanel and Pierre Cardin among her inner circle.
She’d later caught the attention of Jean-Luc Godard, who cast her in a small role in his film debut Breathless in 1960. She declined due to the part requiring her to be nude. She did accept a role in his next project Le Petit Soldat, a film that earned her acclaim and launched her as an actress.
Karina became not only Godard’s muse, but also his wife in 1961. Although the power pairing did not make for a successful marriage, they collaborated on seven films together before their 1965 divorce.
She continued working as an actress, and later became a director after opening up her own production company in 1972. Karina also wrote four novels, maintained a singing career, and married three more times.
She will be remembered “as the gaze of New Wave,” according to French Cultural Minister, Franck Riester.