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Leslie Caron

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Basic Information

Leslie Caron

Date of Birth: 1 July 1931
Place of Birth: Boulogne-Billancourt, Seine [now Hauts-de-Seine], France
Birth Name: Leslie Claire Margaret Caron
Height: 5' 1½" (1.56 m)


Leslie Claire Margaret Caron (French pronunciation: [lɛzli kaʁɔ̃]; born 1 July 1931) is a French film actress and dancer, who appeared in 45 films between 1951 and 2003. Caron is best known for the musical films An American in Paris (1951), Lili (1953), Daddy Long Legs (1955), Gigi (1958), and for the non-musical films Fanny (1961), The L-Shaped Room (1962), and Father Goose (1964). She received two Academy Award nominations for Best Actress. She speaks French and English. She is one of the few dancers or actresses who can say that they have danced with Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Rudolf Nureyev.

Early years

Caron was born in Boulogne-sur-Seine, Seine (now Boulogne-Billancourt, Hauts-de-Seine), France, the daughter of Margaret (née Petit), an American dancer, and Claude Caron, a French chemist. Caron was prepared for a performing career from childhood by her mother.


Caron started her career as a ballet dancer. Gene Kelly discovered her, and cast her to appear opposite him in the musical An American in Paris (1951), a role in which a pregnant Cyd Charisse was originally cast. This led to a long-term MGM contract and a sequence of films, which included the musical The Glass Slipper (1955) and the drama Gaby (1956).

She also starred in the successful musicals Lili (1953), with Mel Ferrer; Daddy Long Legs (1955), with Fred Astaire, and Gigi (1958) with Louis Jourdan and Maurice Chevalier.

In 1953, Caron was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her starring role in Lili. In 1963, she was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the British drama The L-Shaped Room.

In the 1960s and thereafter, Caron worked in European films as well. Caron once said of herself: "I'm not a ballerina. I'm a hoofer."

Her later film assignments 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).

She has continued to act, appearing in the film Chocolat (2000). She is one of the few leading ladies (or actors of any type for that matter) from the classic era of MGM musicals who is still active in film. (Others include Mickey Rooney, Debbie Reynolds, Dean Stockwell, Rita Moreno, Margaret O'Brien, June Lockhart) Her other recent credits include Funny Bones (1995) with Jerry Lewis and Oliver Platt, The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2000) with Judi Dench and Cleo Laine, and Le Divorce (2003) with Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts.

Most recently, Caron's guest appearance on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit earned her a 2007 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.

On December 8, 2009, Caron received the 2,394th Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In February 2010, she will play the role of Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, which also will feature Greta Scacchi and Lambert Wilson.

Personal life

Caron married George Hormel II, a grandson of the founder of Hormel (a meat-packing company) in September 1951. They divorced in 1954. Her second husband was British theatre director Peter Hall. They married in 1956 and had two children, Christopher John Hall (TV producer) in 1957 and Jennifer Caron Hall, an actress, in 1962. Caron had an affair with Warren Beatty (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, best known as producer of the film Two-Lane Blacktop; they divorced in 1980.

Caron was also romantically linked to Dutch television actor Robert Wolders from 1994 to 1995.

In semi-retirement from films, she owns and operates a bed and breakfast, Auberge La Lucarne aux Chouettes (The Owls' Nest Inn), located in Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, located about 112 km (70 miles) south of Paris.

In her book Thank Heaven she states that she became an American citizen -- evidently based on her mother having been born in the United States -- in time to vote for President Obama.



An American in Paris (1951) The Man with a Cloak (1951) The Million Dollar Nickel (1952) (short subject) Glory Alley (1952) The Story of Three Loves (1953) Lili (1953) The Glass Slipper (1955) Daddy Long Legs (1955) Gaby (1956) Gigi (1958) The Doctor's Dilemma (1958) The Man Who Understood Women (1959) The Subterraneans (1960) Austerlitz (1960) Fanny (1961) Three Fables of Love (1962) Guns of Darkness (1962) The L-Shaped Room (1962) Father Goose (1964) A Very Special Favor (1965) Promise Her Anything (1965) Is Paris Burning? (1966) The Head of the Family (1969) Madron (1970)

Chandler (1971) Purple Night (1972) Surreal Estate (1976) The Man Who Loved Women (1977) Valentino (1977) Nicole (1978) Goldengirl (1979) All Stars (1980) Chanel Solitaire (1981) Imperative (1982) Dangerous Moves (1984) Courage Mountain (1990) Damage (1992) The Genius (1993) Warriors and Prisoners (1994) A Hundred and One Nights of Simon Cinema (1995) (scenes deleted) Funny Bones (1995) The Reef (1999) From Russia to Hollywood: The 100-Year Odyssey of Chekhov and Shdanoff (1999) (documentary) Chocolat (2000) Le Divorce (2003)


  • ITV Play of the Week (1 episode, 1959)
  • Les Fables de La Fontaine (unknown episodes, 1964)
  • Carola (1973)
  • QB VII (unknown episodes, 1974)
  • Docteur Erika Werner (1978)
  • The Contract (1980)
  • Mon meilleur Noël (1 episode, 1981)
  • Tales of the Unexpected (1 episode, 1982)
  • The Unapproachable (1982)
  • Le Château faible (1983)
  • Master of the Game (1984)
  • Le Génie du faux (1985)
  • Falcon Crest (3 episodes, 1987)
  • The Man Who Lived at the Ritz (1988)
  • Lenin: The Train (1990)
  • The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century (1 episode, 1996) voice
  • The Ring (1996)
  • The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2000)
  • Murder on the Orient Express (2001)
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2006) Episode: "Recall"


  • Was president of the jury at the 'Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin' in 1989.
  • Born of a French father and an American mother
  • For Peter Hall's 30th birthday her present was - simply - a Rolls Royce.
  • When she told Fred Astaire that she wanted to create her own costumes for Daddy Long Legs (1955), he responded: "OK, but no feathers, please". Astaire recalled the exasperation he had with one of Ginger Rogers' elaborate gowns in a dance scene in Top Hat (1935). Some ostrich feathers broke loose from Ginger Rogers' gown and mischievously floated in mid air around Astaire's face. The shedding dress episode was recreated to hilarious effect in a scene from Easter Parade (1948) in which Fred Astaire danced with a clumsy, comical dancer played by Judy Garland.
  • Her talent as a dancer had been already noticed in 1946 by the then married Gene Kelly and Betsy Blair in a Roland Petit's ballet on the theme of Orpheus, but they could not meet her at the end of the show because Caron's mother used to take her immediately away.
  • She and her daughter, Jennifer Caron Hall, co-starred on an episode of "The Love Boat" (1977), in the parts of mother and daughter, respectively.
  • Member of jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1980
  • Once romantically linked (1995-1996) to handsome "Laredo" actor Robert Wolders who married older actress Merle Oberon and was the companion of older actress Audrey Hepburn until her death in 1993. Leslie is five years older than Wolders.
  • Grew up with the nickname Carly Jane by her family and close friends.
  • Has two children: Christopher Hall (born 1957) and Jennifer Caron Hall (born 1958).
  • Her first marriage to musician, composer and meat-packing planet heir (Hormel Foods) Geordie Hormel ended after a few years, and at the height of her fame because of career preferences. Her second marriage to famed stage director Peter Hall also ended in divorce, with his naming Warren Beatty, her co-star in Promise Her Anything (1965), as co-respondent. The London court ordered Beatty to pay court costs.
  • She was nominated for a 1975 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Guest Artist for her performance in the play, "13 Rue De L'Amour," at the Arlington Park Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.
  • One of the few actresses to have danced with both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in the movies, other actresses that have also done this includes Judy Garland, Cyd Charisse, Vera-Ellen, Debbie Reynolds, and Rita Hayworth.
  • Received the 2,394th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame [December 2009].
  • Mother-in-law of Glenn Wilhide and Jane Studd.
  • Grandmother of Stephanie Clive and Freddie Hall.
  • Returned to work six months after giving birth to her son Christopher Hall in order to begin filming Gigi (1958).