French entertainer Yves Montand dies of heart attack

November 10, 1991|By Diana Jean Schemo | Diana Jean Schemo,Paris Bureau of The Sun

PARIS -- Yves Montand, the French actor and singer whose smooth voice and easy manner defined sexiness for more than one generation of admirers around the world, died of a heart attack yesterday. He was 70.

His companion, Carole Amiel, with whom he had a son, Valentin, three years ago, was at his bedside.

Mr. Montand's last words, reported on French television, were, "I have lived well, and lived well enough not to regret anything."

Though he was a popular singer and actor from his start in show business some 47 years ago, Mr. Montand was known equally well for his political activism.

Born Yvo Livi, Mr. Montand came from a family of Italian Communists. When he was 2, the family fled Italian fascism, leaving his native village of Monsumano Alto in Tuscany for the French port city of Marseille.

He owed his start in singing to Edith Piaf, "the little sparrow," who boosted the tall, lanky Mr. Montand onto the stage next to her in 1944, and so to fame. A year later, they sang together in his first film, "Star without Light." They also became close off screen, a romance he acknowledged only recently.

Far more public was his affair with Marilyn Monroe, with whom he made the 1960 film musical, "Let's Make Love." At the time, he and the French actress Simone Signoret had been married eight years, and were France's darling couple. But the marriage endured until Ms. Signoret's death in 1985.

In the United States, Mr. Montand was best known for his roles in "Z" and "The Confession," films that combined his trademark political activism with his talent for acting.

He was an advocate of disarmament and human rights and an outspoken champion of liberal, pacifist political ideas. He openly supported Moscow and the French Communist Party after World War II, but became deeply anti-Communist after the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956.

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