Under the stage name Renée-Jeanne Simonot, Dorléac made a career in dubbing, becoming the French voice for stars like Judy Garland, Olivia de Havilland, and Donna Reed.

By Marcus Jones
July 15, 2021 at 03:13 PM EDT
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Actress Renée Dorléac, a go-to French voice in the advent of sound film and the mother of Catherine Deneuve, has died in Paris at the age of 109. Her children confirmed her death to Le Figaro.

Born in the Normandy region of France on Sept. 10, 1911, Dorléac started her professional career at the age of 7 and took the stage name Renée-Jeanne Simonot. As the silent film era came to a close circa 1929, Dorléac was able to carve out a lane for herself doing the French dubbing for American movie stars like Judy Garland , Olivia de Havilland (in most of her films), Sylvia SidneyDonna Reed, and Esther Williams, among others.

Renée Simonot, Catherine Deneuve
Renée Dorléac (stage name: Renée-Jeanne Simonot) was the mother of French actress Catherine Deneuve.
| Credit: PAT/ARNAL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images; Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Dorléac's first daughter, Daniele Clariond, was born in 1936. In 1940, Renée married actor Maurice Dorléac after they met while doing dubbing work for MGM. From 1942 to 1946, she had three more daughters — Françoise Dorléac, the aforementioned Deneuve, and Sylvie Dorléac — who would all follow in her footsteps and become actresses.

After the second world war, Dorléac gave up acting to focus on being a mother. Years later, in 1967, her daughter Françoise died in a car accident. Her husband died in 1979.

Dorléac lived for decades after, watching Deneuve become the quintessential French actress and an international celebrity. In 2012, in an interview for M, the magazine du Monde, Deneuve discussed how her mother spent her later years, saying, "She lives alone at her home, plays bridge, wears glasses but hears very well and has a very sound mind. That's certainly a very comfortable image of old age."

She added, "She's a woman whom I found very courageous. You don't realize it when you're a child. We only realize it with time. It's a big thing to raise four children. Particularly since she left us to be rather free."

Dorléac is survived by her three daughters and their grandchildren.

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