Catherine Deneuve turns 70 years old today–but that’s not too surprising. She’d already been around long enough to play the older woman in lesbian scenes with a 36-year-old Susan Sarandon back in 1983. That was for a stylish vampire film called The Hunger. The big deal was mostly over Susan Sarandon’s nude scenes. People were used to daring performances from Catherine Deneuve. Of course, it was still a big draw to see Madame Deneuve in a lesbian scene with Susan Sarandon. That kind of thing was a lot less common in the ’80s.
The gorgeous young French actress first made the international scene with the 1963 romantic drama The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. She followed that with a chilling turn as a tormented young woman in Roman Polanski’s Repulsion. Both of those movies made it to American art houses, and Catherine Deneuve appeared nude in the October, 1965 issue of Playboy. That was back when mainstream actresses didn’t appear in that kind of magazine–but Catherine was a liberated European gal who represented changing times in the jet age.
Hollywood still didn’t know what to do with this exotic creature. Catherine concentrated on European productions. Belle de Jour was a wild 1967 drama that also helped turn American art houses into pioneering porn theaters. There wasn’t any hardcore action, of course, but Deneuve’s role included lots of nudity and a scene where she’s bound and whipped. That earned her a whole new audience of American fetishists.
Catherine Deneuve was a class act, though. Her performances were critically acclaimed. The Hunger was only her third American film, but the world knew her as both an actress and model. She was one of the first great beauties to really be promoted as a hot older woman. Catherine turned 40 while proclaiming her age to the world in a series of commercials for Youth Garde cosmetics.
Americans were also reminded of Deneuve’s lasting beauty when she received an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress for 1992’s Indochine. She doesn’t speak English in the film. Catherine Deneuve speaks a more universal language–and you’ll really relate to her with this salacious selection of pics from her amazing early career…