French New Wave Star Anna Karina Is Dead at 79

Image: via Getty

Anna Karina, the French New Wave icon known for her collaborations with ex-husband Jean-Luc Godard, died in Paris on Saturday. The Washington Post reports that the cause was cancer. She was 79.

Karina, born Hanne Karin Bayer, began modeling in her native Denmark as a teenager before hitchhiking to Paris at 17, where she befriended fashion icons like Coco Chanel. In 1960, Godard offered her a role in Breathless after seeing her in a soap ad, though she turned it down because it required nudity. Eventually, she starred in seven of Godard’s films, including Vivre Sa Vie and Pierrot le Fou; they married in 1961, though they divorced four years later after a tumultuous relationship.


Karina’s work netted her a number of awards, including the best actress award at the 1961 Berlin International Film Festival for A Woman Is a Woman. She continued to work with New Wave directors post-Godard, including Pierre Koralnik, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Luchino Visconti, and Franco Busati.

Karina continued to act, write, and direct well past the 1960s, writing and directing 1973's Vivre ensemble and 2008's Victoria, which was the last film she appeared in.

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