French actress and singer Danielle Darrieux has died aged 100 in her home in Bois-le-Roi, France.
She became unwell “after a little fall”, her partner Jacques Jenvrin told AFP news agency.
Fondly referred to as the “grande dame” of French cinema, Darrieux had about a 140 films to her name in a career over eight decades.
But her decision to continue working during the Nazi occupation of France saw her branded as a collaborationist.
Born in Bordeaux in 1917, Darrieux started in comedy with a film role on Le Bal at just 14.
She went on take more dramatic roles in films such as Mayerling by Anatole Litvak in 1936 where she stared opposite Charles Boyer – for which she won a National Board of Review Best Actress prize.
During the Nazi occupation, she continued to work and even travelled to Berlin in 1942.
She was visiting her then-husband, Porfirio Rubirosa, who had been arrested by the Germans on suspicion of espionage.
After the war, her career picked up again with such notable films as La Ronde in 1950 and The Earrings of Madame de… in 1953.
Lingering doubts about her wartime activities were quashed by her performance as Marie Octobre in the 1959 thriller about the survivors of a French resistance network and their quest to find the person who had betrayed their murdered leader.
In 1967, she starred and sang in Jacques Demy’s classic Les Demoiselles De Rochefort, a move which gave her career a new lease of life, and she would later find work in Hollywood and Broadway.
“I went to the studio as one went to school, I was lazy and I remain so,” Darrieux once said but she continued working until she was 99, lending her voice in the 2007 animated hit Persepolis.
Darrieux joins a list of French icons who have all passed away in recent months, including Jean Rochefort, Mireille Darc, Jeanne Moreau and Emmanuelle Riva.
French television stations are rescheduling their programming to include some of Darrieux’s work this week.