Jeanne Rene Deneuve, mother of the legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve, lived to be 110 years old for only two months, but she was still able to think clearly.
Of all the long-lived actresses in French history, Rene Simoneau (the actress’s pseudonym) was the most famous and popular. Her example, attitude and vision inspired not only her own children but also many fans.
Rene Simoneau lived a long life that spanned several eras. Born on 10 September 1911, she made her stage debut at the age of seven at the Théâtre Odeon in Paris. Renee acted at this theatre for three decades, earning the unofficial title of theatre prima, and loved it as much as life itself.
Simoneau is the pseudonym Renée borrowed from the opera singer and family friend who became her godfather. Renee-Jeanne Simoneau was also in demand in the cinema, notably as one of the first French actresses to dub American films. However, Renee did not have a great film career because she always chose family and motherhood.
Even before the Second World War, Simoneau gave birth to daughter Danielle with the actor – “a charming man who could not be counted on. I left with a daughter in my arms and found my freedom again”, – she recalled the actress.
She found happiness in marriage with Maurice Dorleac, a film and theatre artist, who became the father of her three daughters – Françoise, Catherine and Sylvia.
Three daughters were born to this marriage: Françoise in 1942, Catherine in 1943 and Sylvia in 1946. When Renee had her fourth child, she left the stage, but continued to work in dubbing from time to time.
Françoise Dorleac, star of Girls of Rochefort, died in a car accident in 1967. She was only 25 years old. Maurice Dorleac died in 1979.
In an interview, Catherine Deneuve spoke about her mother, whom she has admired all her life. It was not for nothing that she chose her maiden name when she followed in her footsteps. She considers her mother to be an outstanding woman. This understanding came with age as she began to appreciate the qualities of her own person.
Catherine’s mother never severely restricted her children, and perhaps that’s why they were so attracted to her. Catherine remembered her mother’s philosophy of always being free, joyful and not angry at the world. The feeling of freedom was one of the main conditions for happiness, and it was this feeling that allowed Renee Simoneau to remain satisfied with life even when she was over 100.
It was extremely attractive because she always had many friends and admirers of her talent, Renee took care of herself, always remained a woman, so she had admirers even in her old age.
“Mother loved the feeling of independence,” said Catherine. – It’s incredible, yes: my mother is 100 years old! Soon to be 101. She lives alone at home, plays bridge, wears glasses, but has very good hearing and a beautiful head.
It’s certainly a reassuring image of old age. She is a woman who I think is very brave. You don’t understand that as a child. You only understand with time. It is a big thing to bring up four children”.
Even at the age of 107, Renee preferred to live alone, with no one to help her, and was perfectly happy.
“My old age is not sad. Not a day goes by that my children and grandchildren don’t call or visit me,” the actress said in an interview.
Indeed, Catherine was always there and could arrive at any moment. For the past three years, Rene has been under the care of specialists, as well as her children and grandchildren. The actress died on 11 July 2021.
Jeanne Renee Deneuve’s motto:
“We shouldn’t be afraid of age, we should be afraid of being boring”.