Leslie Claire Margaret Caron
1 July 1931
(m. 1951; div. 1954)
(m. 1956; div. 1965)
(m. 1969; div. 1980)
Jennifer Caron Hall
Leslie Claire Margaret Caron (French: [lɛsli kaʁɔ̃]; born 1 July 1931) is a French-American actress and dancer. She is the recipient of a Golden Globe Award, two BAFTA Awards and a Primetime Emmy Award, in addition to nominations for two Academy Awards. She is one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema.
Caron began her career as a ballerina. She made her film debut in the musical An American in Paris (1951), followed by roles in The Man with a Cloak (1951), Glory Alley (1952) and The Story of Three Loves (1953), before her role of an orphan in Lili (also 1953), which earned her the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress and garnered nominations for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award.
As a leading lady, Caron starred in films such as The Glass Slipper (1955), Daddy Long Legs (1955), Gigi (1958), Fanny (1961), both of which earned her Golden Globe nominations, Guns of Darkness (1962), The L-Shaped Room (1962), Father Goose (1964) and A Very Special Favor (1965). For her role as a single pregnant woman in The L-Shaped Room, Caron, in addition to receiving a second Academy Award nomination, won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama and a second BAFTA Award.
Caron's other roles include Is Paris Burning? (1966), The Man Who Loved Women (1977), Valentino (1977), Damage (1992), Funny Bones (1995), Chocolat (2000) and Le Divorce (2003). In 2007, she won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for portraying a rape victim in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Caron was born in Boulogne-sur-Seine, Seine (now Boulogne-Billancourt, Hauts-de-Seine), the daughter of Margaret (née Petit), a Franco-American dancer on Broadway, and Claude Caron, a French chemist, pharmacist, perfumer and boutique owner. Claude Caron was the founder of the artisanal perfumier Guermantes. While her older brother Aimery Caron became a chemist like their father, Leslie was prepared for a performing career from childhood by her mother. The family lost its wealth during World War II and could not provide a dowry for Caron. "My mother said: 'There's only one profession that leads you to marrying money and becoming a princess or duchess, and that's ballet.' ... My grandfather whispered heavily: 'Margaret, you want your daughter to be a whore?' I heard it. This has always followed me".
Caron was initially a ballerina. Gene Kelly discovered her in the Roland Petit company "Ballet des Champs Elysées" and cast her to appear opposite him in the musical An American in Paris (1951), a role for which a pregnant Cyd Charisse was originally cast. The prosperity, sunshine and abundance of California was a cultural shock to Caron. She had lived in Paris during the German occupation, which left her malnourished and anemic. She later remarked how nice people were in comparison to wartime Paris, in which poverty and deprivation had caused people to be bitter and violent. She had a friendly relationship with Kelly, who nicknamed her "Lester the Pester" and "kid". Kelly helped the inexperienced Caron—who had never spoken on stage—adjust to filmmaking..
Her role led to a seven-year MGM contract. The films which followed included the musical The Glass Slipper (1955) and the drama The Man with a Cloak (1951), with Joseph Cotten and Barbara Stanwyck. Still, Caron has said of herself: "Unfortunately, Hollywood considers musical dancers as hoofers. Regrettable expression." She also starred in the musicals Lili (1953, receiving an Academy Award for Best Actress nomination), with Mel Ferrer; Daddy Long Legs (1955), with Fred Astaire; and Gigi (1958) with Louis Jourdan and Maurice Chevalier.
Dissatisfied with her career despite her success ("I thought musicals were futile and silly", she said in 2021; "I appreciate them better now"), Caron studied the Stanislavski method. In the 1960s and thereafter, Caron worked in European films as well. For her performance in the British drama The L-Shaped Room (1962), she won the BAFTA Award for Best British Actress and the Golden Globe, and was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar. Her other film assignments in this period included Father Goose (1964) with Cary Grant; Ken Russell's Valentino (1977), in the role of silent-screen legend Alla Nazimova; and Louis Malle's Damage (1992). Sometime in 1970, Caron was one of the many actresses considered for the lead role of Eglantine Price in Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks, losing the role to British actress Angela Lansbury.
In 1967, she was a member of the jury of the 5th Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF). In 1989, she was a member of the jury at the 39th Berlin International Film Festival.
Caron returned to France in the early 1970s, which she later said was a mistake. "They adore someone who's really British or really American", Caron said, "but somebody who's French and has made it in Hollywood – and I was the only one who had really made it in a big way – they can't forgive". During the 1980s, she appeared in several episodes of the soap opera Falcon Crest as Nicole Sauguet. Caron is one of the few actresses from the classic era of MGM musicals who are still active in film — a group that includes Rita Moreno, Margaret O'Brien and June Lockhart. Caron's later credits include Funny Bones (1995) with Jerry Lewis and Oliver Platt; The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2000) with Judi Dench and Cleo Laine; Chocolat (2000) and Le Divorce (2003), directed by James Ivory, with Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts.
On June 30, 2003, Caron traveled to San Francisco to appear as the special guest star in The Songs of Alan Jay Lerner: I Remember It Well, a retrospective concert staged by San Francisco's 42nd Street Moon Company. In 2007, her guest appearance on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit earned her a Primetime Emmy Award. On April 27, 2009, Caron traveled to New York as an honored guest at a tribute to Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe at the Paley Center for Media.
For her contributions to the film industry, Caron was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame on December 8, 2009, with a motion pictures star located at 6153 Hollywood Boulevard. In February 2010, she played Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, which also featured Greta Scacchi and Lambert Wilson.
In 2016, Caron appeared in the ITV television series The Durrells (produced by her son Christopher Hall) as the Countess Mavrodaki.
Veteran documentarian Larry Weinstein's Leslie Caron: The Reluctant Star premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on June 28, 2016.
In September 1951, Caron married American George Hormel II, a grandson of George A. Hormel, the founder of the Hormel meat-packing company. They divorced in 1954. During that period, while under contract to MGM, she lived in Laurel Canyon in a Normandie style 1927 mansion near the country store on Laurel Canyon Blvd. One bedroom was all mirrored for her dancing rehearsals.
Her second husband was British theatre director Peter Hall. They married in 1956 and had two children: Christopher John Hall, a television drama producer, and Jennifer Caron Hall, a writer, painter and actress. Her son-in-law, married to Jennifer, is Glenn Wilhide, a producer and screenwriter.
Caron had an affair with Warren Beatty in 1961. When she and Hall divorced in 1965, Beatty was named as a co-respondent and was ordered by the London court to pay the costs of the case. In 1969, Caron married Michael Laughlin, the producer of the film Two-Lane Blacktop; the couple divorced in 1980.
Caron was also romantically linked to Dutch television actor Robert Wolders from 1994 to 1995.
From June 1993 until September 2009, Caron owned and operated the hotel and restaurant Auberge la Lucarne aux Chouettes (The Owls' Nest), in Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, about 130 km (80 mi) south of Paris. Caron's mother had committed suicide in her 60s; suffering from a lifetime of depression, Caron also considered doing so in 1995. She was hospitalized for a month and began attending Alcoholics Anonymous. Unhappy with the lack of acting opportunities in France, she returned to England in 2013.
In her autobiography, Thank Heaven, she states that she obtained American citizenship in time to vote for Barack Obama for president.
In October 2021, she was chosen to receive the Oldie of the Year Award by The Oldie magazine. It was initially offered to Queen Elizabeth II, who had declined it on the grounds that she did not meet the criteria, even though she is five years older than Caron.
|1951||An American in Paris||Lise Bouvier|
|1951||The Man with a Cloak||Madeline Minot|
|1952||Glory Alley||Angela Evans|
|1953||The Story of Three Loves||Mademoiselle||Segment: "Mademoiselle"|
|1953||Lili||Lili Daurier||BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress|
Nominated–Academy Award for Best Actress
|1955||The Glass Slipper||Ella|
|1955||Daddy Long Legs||Julie Andre|
|1958||Gigi||Gigi||Laurel Award for Top Female Musical Performance|
Nominated–Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical
|1958||The Doctor's Dilemma||Mrs. Dubedat|
|1959||The Man Who Understood Women||Ann Garantier|
|1960||Austerlitz||Mlle de Vaudey|
|1960||The Subterraneans||Mardou Fox|
|1961||Fanny||Fanny||Laurel Award for Top Female Dramatic Performance (5th place)|
Nominated–Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
|1962||Guns of Darkness||Claire Jordan|
|1962||The L-Shaped Room||Jane Fosset||BAFTA Award for Best British Actress|
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Laurel Award for Top Female Dramatic Performance (3rd place)
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress (2nd place)
Nominated–Academy Award for Best Actress
|1962||Three Fables of Love||Annie||Segment: "Les deux pigeons"|
|1965||A Very Special Favor||Dr. Lauren Boullard|
|1965||Promise Her Anything||Michele O'Brien|
|1966||Is Paris Burning?||Françoise Labé|
|1967||Il padre di famiglia||Paola, Marco's wife|
|1977||The Man Who Loved Women||Véra|
|1979||Goldengirl||Dr. Sammy Lee|
|1980||All Stars||Lucille Berger|
|1984||Dangerous Moves||Henia Liebskind|
|1990||Courage Mountain||Jane Hillary|
|1995||Funny Bones||Katie Parker|
|1995||Let It Be Me||Marguerite|
|1999||The Reef||Regine De Chantelle|
|2000||Chocolat||Madame Audel||Nominated–Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture|
|2003||Le Divorce||Suzanne de Persand|
|2017||The Perfect Age||Marguerite||short movie|
|2020||A Christmas Carol||The Ghost of Christmas Past (voice)|
|1959||ITV Play of the Week||Thérèse Tarde||Episode: "The Wild Bird"|
|1968||Off to See the Wizard||Ella||Episode: "Cinderella's Glass Slipper: Part 1"|
|1973||Carola||Carola Janssen||TV film|
|1974||QB VII||Angela Kelno||Miniseries|
|1978||Docteur Erika Werner||Erika Werner||TV series|
|1981||Mon meilleur Noël||La Nuit||Episode: "L'oiseau bleu"|
|1982||Tales of the Unexpected||Nathalie Vareille||Episode: "Run, Rabbit, Run"|
|1982||The Unapproachable||Klaudia||TV film|
|1983||Cinéma 16||Alice||Episode: "Le château faible"|
|1984||Master of the Game||Solange Dunas|
|1986||The Love Boat||Mrs. Duvall||Episode: "The Christmas Cruise"|
|1987||Falcon Crest||Nicole Sauget||3 episodes|
|1988||Lenin: The Train||Nadia||TV film|
|1988||The Man Who Lived at the Ritz||Coco Chanel||TV film|
|1994||Normandy: The Great Crusade||Osmont, Mary-Louise (voice)|
|1996||The Ring||Madame de Saint Marne|
|1996||The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century||Czarina Aleksandra Romanov (voice)||3 episodes|
|2000||The Last of the Blonde Bombshells||Madeleine||TV film|
|2001||Murder on the Orient Express||Sra. Alvarado|
|2006||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Lorraine Delmas||Episode: "Recall"|
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
|2013||Jo||Josette Lenoir||Episode: "Le Marais"|
|2016–2018||The Durrells||Countess Mavrodaki||6 episodes|