The actress, who was not confined to the popular cinema which made her famous, will have shot a total of nearly 70 films, with Jean Marais or Yves Montand as well as Roger Moore. She died Thursday, in a Parisian hospital, at the age of 87.
Blonde hair, smiling face, Mylène Demongeot, who has also held roles in the theater and on television, was often compared to Brigitte Bardot, with whom she shared the same love of animals and the environment, and of whom she was even presented as the rival.
A popular figure, she was in demand until the end, still playing a role in "Retirement home", a comedy with Kev Adams and Gérard Depardieu, one of the rare French films to exceed two million admissions in 2022.
Born in Nice on September 29, 1935, from an Italian father and a Ukrainian mother, Mylène Demongeot (real name Marie-Hélène) began piano studies at the age of 7, which she followed assiduously in Paris, with her masters. Yves Nat and Marguerite Long. But at the age of 15, she gave up on becoming a concert performer and took drama lessons.
In parallel with her first small roles in the cinema from 1953, she posed for publicity photos and fell in love with the photographer Henri Coste, whom she married in 1958. One of these shots earned her the notice of Raymond Rouleau who entrusts him with the role of Abigail in the adaptation of "Witches of Salem" (1957).
- Big comeback in 2004 -
She continues the following year with "Hello sadness" by Otto Preminger, "Be beautiful and shut up" by Marc Allégret. She left for Italy where she became very popular with a peplum, "La Bataille de Marathon" then with "Les Garçons" by Mauro Bolognini, with Laurent Terzieff.
In the 1960s, she became Milady de Winter in "The Three Musketeers" by Bernard Borderie, but also the reporter photographer Hélène in the "Fantômas" series by André Hunebelle, shot with Jean Marais and Louis de Funès.
She has as partners some of the most famous actors of their generation: Curd Jürgens, David Niven, Dirk Bogarde, Sami Frey...
At the end of the 1960s, she met the love of her life, the director Marc Simenon, son of the writer Georges Simenon, whom she married in 1968. For him, she put her career in the background and second in his productions. Their love will resist Marc's "alcoholic disease" and only his accidental death, in 1999, will separate them.
In 2004, she made her big comeback to the cinema with the film "36 quai des Orfèvres" by Olivier Marchal, which earned her a nomination for the 2005 Césars and breathed new life into her career.
She then returned to popular films, such as the "Camping" trilogy, but also to auteur cinema, where she was particularly noted for her interpretation of Thérèse in "Les Toits de Paris" by Hiner Saleem (2007).
"Mylène Demongeot was a committed actress, sensitive, in particular to the defense of the animal and environmental cause and the right to die with dignity", underline her relatives in the press release announcing her death.
She wrote several books, such as "The animals of my life", "My sacred monsters" and "Dearest crooks", in 2019, recounting her financial setbacks with a banker, guilty of fraud against famous clients.