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ENDURING FRIENDSHIP: Alain Delon and Shahbanou Farah Pahlavi at annual Alzheimer Gala in Paris


Darius KADIVAR Reports from Paris



Alain Delon and Shahbanou Farah Pahlavi
at Les Théatre des Variétés Paris ©PDV



"I like to be loved like I love myself." -Alain Delon


"I knew everything and received everything. But real happiness, is giving." -Alain Delon


They have each been in the spotlight of photographers worldwide for the past 5 decades albeit for very different reasons. One is an International film Star and living Legend of the Silver Screen, the other, a Former Shahbanou of Iran whose popularity and glamour have not diminished despite a quarter of century in exile. French actor Alain Delon and Shahbanou Farah Pahlavi were to meet again for a good cause that each is promoting by their presence: The Annual Alzheimer Gala IFRAD ( International Fund Raising for Alzheimer Disease) that aims at helping Research in curing this disease. There are an estimated 24 million people with dementia worldwide. By 2040, it is projected that this figure will have increased to 81 million. Shahbanou Farah presided the annual event two years ago on invitation by the IFRAD Institute during which she was warmly greeted by the French Star who remained a fervent admirer of the Shahbanou equally at the time of her Reign as in the less glamorous years of exile.


TOP (L-R): Farah Diba soon to be Pahlavi reads a 1959 French article
about herself: "'l'Amour... cette jeune fille vole la place de Soraya
dans le Coeur du Shah" (LOVE, ... this girl replaces Soraya in the heart
of the Shah). State visit to France greeted by De Gaulle BOTTOM (L-R):
Paris Match with Shah and Farah before Coronation. Alain Delon and
Romy Schneider, The French and German love story of a lifetime
©pictory & ©Paris Match


The French Star has often repeated this sentence in regard to his friendships : Je ne renonce jamais mes amis passé ou future quelques soit les revers de fortune que la vie puisse leurs reservé aka I never forget my friendships past or future regardless of life's misfortunes. A bold stance that has often earned the Legendary Star a reputation that contrasts with his public persona of a narcissistic, temperamental and self centered actor.


DARK ANGEL : Alain Delon dominated French and
International Cinema of the last 5 decades with his
sex appeal, enigmatic and narcissistic persona
©imdb & Alain Delon Diffusion SA


Throughout his career Alain Delon has demonstrated an undeniable charm, sex appeal and onscreen presence that few actors have ever achieved to this day. He outlived many his legendary co-stars ranging from Hollywood Stars  Burt Lancaster ( Il Guepardo) , Richard Burton ( The Assassination of Trotsky), Anthony Quinn ( The Centurions ) and Charles Bronson (Adieu l'Ami)  or French icon's Jean Gabin ( Deux Hommes dans la Ville) , Lino Ventura ( Le Clan des Siciliens) or Maurice Ronet ( La Piscine, Plein Soleil).  His career has been associated to that of his life long pal Jean Paul Belmondo ( Borsalino) with whom he reigned on French Cinema for more than 30 years as France's Top Box Office Stars. His turbulent love life was certainly marked by two major encounters. The first being the beautiful German Star Romy Schneider with whom he shared a passionate relationship both on and off screen until the latter's tragic death in the early 1980's. The other strong relationship was with Mireille Darc with whom he lived for 15 years and who probably best understood his difficult personality. Paradoxically the two Women with whom he had children that is Nathalie Delon and Rosalie Van Breemen have remained in the shadows of his demanding and insatiable personality. To his own admission his career and love for Cinema have been more important than anything else in his life. In that one can truly agree that he has left a great impact on French and European Cinema in general. Without previous professional preparation, Alain Delon came to embody the young, energetic, and often morally corrupted man. With his breathtaking good-looks, he was also predestined to play tender lovers and romantic heroes, and he was in the beginning a French embodiment of the type created in America by James Dean. His first outstanding success came with the role of the parasite Tom Ripley in Clement's sun-drenched thriller Plein soleil (1960). Delon presented a psychological portrait of a murderous young cynic who attempts to take on the identity of his victim. A totally different role was offered to him by Visconti in "Rocco e i suoi fratelli". In this film, Delon plays the devoted Rocco, who accepts the greatest sacrifices to save his characterless brother Simon. After several other films in Italy, he returned to the criminal genre with Jean Gabin in Mélodie en sous-sol (1963). This work, a classic example of the genre, was distinguished not only by a soundly worked-out screenplay, but also by the careful production and the excellent performances of both Delon and Gabin. It was only in the late sixties that the sleek and lethal Delon came to epitomize the calm, psychopathic hoodlum, staring into the camera like a cat assessing a mouse. His tough, ruthless side was firs t used to real effect by Jean-Pierre Melville in Samouraï, Le (1967). In 1969, he had a huge success in the bloodstained Borsalino, which he also produced, playing a small-time gangster who, with Jean-Paul Belmondo becomes king of the Marseilles thirties underworld. Delon later won critical acclaim for his roles, against type, in Joseph Losey's Monsieur Klein (1976) in which Delon played (brilliantly) the icily sinister title role, and the art-movie Un amour de Swann (1984).


The 1980's and 1990's were to mark a decline in his film career with the appearance of a new generation of talents and less Larger than Life characters he was used to portray. However as in the words of Luc Besson: "Delon has always been around. Its as if I have always seen him or heard of his presence in French Cinema throughout the years even when he was not shooting a film. One just cannot ignore the number of masterpieces he was involved and which have influenced film directors worldwide including myself."


Delon greeted in Tehran by Iranian Star Behrouz Vossoughi early 1970's


Unlike Jean Paul Belmondo who suffered a stroke that has paralyzed him partly for a number of years and out of public eye, Delon on the contrary has maintained his public presence, undertaking a relatively successful career at the theater in recent years. A Genre that he ignored for years due to his magnetic onscreen presence. Les Montagnes Russes and more recently the stage adaptation of Clint Eastwood's successful movie The Bridges of Madison County ( Currently being played at Theater Marigny in Paris ) have been an opportunity to share a more tormented yet tender aspect of his personality which he often refused to render in his movies. He also made an amazing comback on TV recently rallying a huge audience of younger fans in two series Fabio Montale and Frank Riva playing in a favorite police thriller genre that earned him success in his Cinema career.




Delon hits the Road on Stage version of
Eastwood's Bridges of Madison County
©imdb & ©Theatre Marigny



It should be noted that Alain Delon was extremely popular in Iran too before the Revolution which he visited for several film festivals. He also shot a film in the early 1980's entitled Tehran 43 a Soviet French Co-Production that was also to be produced and shot in Iran but finally shot in the Southern States of the Soviet Union that was gradually opening to Western films thanks to the Glasnost.   


Author's notes:


Official Website of IRFAD :


Official Website of Alain Delon:


Official Website of Shahbanou Farah :


Recommended Readings (France-Iran):

Alzheimer Research Fundraising Gala 2005 Presided By Shahbanou Farah Pahlavi by      Darius KADIVAR
- When Giants Meet: The Queen of Persian Pop greets the Shahbanou of Iran in NY Live Concert by Darius KADIVAR

- French-Iranian director Robert Hossein to revive Epic Tale of Ben Hur in 2006 by Darius KADIVAR

- Iranian Pioneers Of The French New Wave Cinema by Darius KADIVAR

- Satrapi Launches Official Website & Production Blog of Persepolis: Movie due in Theaters in 2007 by Darius KADIVAR

- Persian History Inspires French Comic Book Masters by Darius KADIVAR




About the Author:
Darius KADIVAR is a freelance journalist and Film Historian born to an Iranian father and French mother. He works and lives in France.

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