Jacqueline Bisset

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Jacqueline Bisset
Bisset in September 2007
Born Winifred Jacqueline Fraser Bisset
(1944-09-13) 13 September 1944 (age 74)
Weybridge, Surrey, England
Occupation Actress
Years active 1965–present
Partner(s) Michael Sarrazin
Alexander Godunov
Victor Drai[1]
Emin Boztepe

Winifred Jacqueline Fraser Bisset (born 13 September 1944) is an English actress. In 2010, she received one of France's highest honours, the Légion d'honneur.

Bisset began her film career in 1965 and first came to prominence in 1968, starring opposite Frank Sinatra in The Detective and Steve McQueen in Bullitt, and received a most promising newcomer Golden Globe nomination for The Sweet Ride. In the 1970s, she appeared in François Truffaut's Day for Night (1973) which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Murder on the Orient Express (1974), opposite Nick Nolte in The Deep (1977) and received a Golden Globe nomination for Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978).

Other film and TV credits include Rich and Famous (1981), Class (1983), her Golden Globe nominated role in Under the Volcano (1984), her Cesar nominated role in La Cérémonie (1995), her Emmy nominated role in the miniseries Joan of Arc (1999) and the BBC miniseries Dancing on the Edge (2013), for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress (television).

Early life

Bisset was born Winifred Jacqueline Fraser Bisset[2] in Weybridge, Surrey, England, the daughter of Arlette Alexander, a lawyer turned housewife, and Max Fraser Bisset, a general practitioner.[3] Her father was Scottish and her mother was of French and English descent;[4][5] Bisset's mother cycled from Paris and boarded a British troop transport to escape the Germans during World War II.[6]

Bisset grew up in Tilehurst, near Reading in Berkshire, in a 17th-century country cottage, where she now lives part of the year[7][8] She has a brother, Max. Her mother taught her to speak French fluently, and she was educated at the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle in London. She had taken ballet lessons as a child and began taking acting lessons and fashion modelling to pay for them. When Bisset was a teenager, her mother was diagnosed with disseminating sclerosis.[9]

Bisset's parents divorced in 1968, after 28 years of marriage.[6] Her father died aged 71 of a brain tumour in 1982. Her mother died in 1999.[10]


First appearing uncredited as a prospective model in 1965's The Knack ...and How to Get It, Bisset made her official film debut the following year in Roman Polanski's Cul-de-sac (1966). In 1967, she appeared in the movie Two for the Road. Next, she participated in the James Bond satire, Casino Royale, as Miss Goodthighs. That same year, she played her first lead role in The Cape Town Affair, opposite James Brolin.

Bisset in 1969

In 1968, Bisset gained mainstream recognition when she replaced Mia Farrow for the role of Norma MacIver in The Detective, opposite Frank Sinatra. In the same year, she co-starred with Michael Sarrazin in The Sweet Ride, which brought her a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer, and played Steve McQueen's girlfriend in the police drama Bullitt, which was among the top five highest-grossing films of the year.

In 1969, she played her first "older woman" (at 25) in the sex comedy The First Time. She was one of the many stars in the 1970 disaster film Airport, as a pregnant stewardess carrying Dean Martin's love child. Following films included The Mephisto Waltz (1971) with Alan Alda, The Thief Who Came to Dinner (1973) with Ryan O'Neal, The Spiral Staircase (1975) with Christopher Plummer, End of the Game (1975) with Jon Voight and St. Ives (1976) with Charles Bronson.

Several of Bisset's movies are also French or Italian productions. In 1973, she appeared in François Truffaut's Day for Night, where she earned the respect of European critics and moviegoers as a serious actress. She co-starred with Marcello Mastroianni in Luigi Comencini's La donna della domenica in 1975.

In 1977, Bisset made strides towards becoming a better-known entertainer in America with her movie The Deep, where swimming underwater wearing only a T-shirt for a top, helped make the film a box office success, leading the producer Peter Guber to say, "That T-shirt made me a rich man,"[11] and led many to credit her with popularising the wet T-shirt contest. At the time, Newsweek declared her "the most beautiful film actress of all time." About that time, a small Dutch-produced film Bisset had made some years earlier was re-released in the United States under the title Secrets. That movie featured the only extensive nude scenes of Bisset's career and the producers cashed in on her fame.

By 1978, she was a household name. In that year she earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress (Comedy) for her performance in Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?, and starred opposite Anthony Quinn in The Greek Tycoon. Soon thereafter, she played in the movies When Time Ran Out (1980) with Paul Newman, and George Cukor's Rich and Famous (1981) with Candice Bergen, where she also served as co-producer. In 1983, she starred in Class (1983), as Rob Lowe's attractive mother who seduces her son's best friend (Andrew McCarthy). She earned another Golden Globe nomination for her role in John Huston's Under the Volcano (1984) opposite Albert Finney.

Bisset at the 1989 Academy Awards

Bisset has appeared in many made-for-TV movies since the mid-1980s. One of her later TV movies, in 2003, was America's Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story, in which she portrayed Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. Bisset's other television work includes the Biblical epics Jesus (1999) and In the Beginning (2000), and the miniseries Joan of Arc, which earned her an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

In 1996, Bisset was nominated for a César Award for her role in the French film La Cérémonie. She appeared in Dangerous Beauty (1998) with Catherine McCormack, and in the Domino Harvey biographical film Domino (2005) with Keira Knightley.

In 2006, Bisset had a recurring role on the TV series Nip/Tuck as the ruthless extortionist James. She starred in the lead role of Boaz Yakin's Death in Love which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Later in 2008, she starred in the Hallmark television film An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving. She recently[when?] finished filming The Last Film Festival, which was the final screen appearance of Dennis Hopper.

In 2010, Bisset was awarded the Légion d'honneur insignia, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy calling her "a movie icon."[12]

She returned to the UK to film Stephen Poliakoff's 1930s jazz drama series, Dancing on the Edge, which started on BBC2 in 2013.[13] For her work, she won the Golden Globe for Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film.

Personal life

Bisset is godmother to actress Angelina Jolie.[14]

Bisset has never married, though she has had lengthy romances with actor Michael Sarrazin,[15] Russian-American dancer and actor Alexander Godunov,[1] real estate magnate Victor Drai,[1] actor Vincent Pérez,[16] and martial arts instructor Emin Boztepe.[17] "I feel like I was married to them because I was very dedicated to them", she said in a 2008 interview. "But I also used to feel claustrophobic. Like many people who don't easily commit, I think I had a fear of being known; I was not sure there was anybody inside there."[18]



Year Title Role Notes
1965 The Knack ...and How to Get It Model Uncredited
1966 Cul-de-sac Jacqueline
1966 Drop Dead Darling Dancer AKA Arrivederci, Baby!
1967 Casino Royale Giovanna Goodthighs
1967 Two for the Road Jackie
1967 Cape Town Affair, TheThe Cape Town Affair Candy
1968 Sweet Ride, TheThe Sweet Ride Vickie Cartwright Nominated—Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress
1968 Detective, TheThe Detective Norma Maclver
1968 Bullitt Cathy Laurel Award for Female New Face (2nd place)
1969 First Time, TheThe First Time Anna
1969 fr (Secret World (1969 film); Secret World) Wendy Sinclair Original titles: L'échelle blanche AKA La Promesse
1970 Airport Gwen Meighen
1970 Grasshopper, TheThe Grasshopper Christine Adams Nominated—Laurel Award for Best Female Dramatic Performance
1971 Mephisto Waltz, TheThe Mephisto Waltz Paula Clarkson
1971 Secrets Jenny
1972 Stand Up and Be Counted Sheila Hammond
1972 Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, TheThe Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean Rose Bean
1973 Thief Who Came to Dinner, TheThe Thief Who Came to Dinner Laura Keaton
1973 Day for Night Julie Baker Original title: La nuit américaine
1973 Le Magnifique Tatiana/Christine AKA How to Destroy the Reputation of the Greatest Secret Agent...
1974 Murder on the Orient Express Countess Andreyni
1975 The Spiral Staircase Helen Mallory
1975 End of the Game Anna Crawley Original title: Der Richter und sein Henker
1975 Sunday Woman, TheThe Sunday Woman Anna Carla Dosio Original title: La donna della domenica
1976 St. Ives Janet Whistler
1977 Deep, TheThe Deep Gail Berke
1978 Greek Tycoon, TheThe Greek Tycoon Liz Cassidy
1978 Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? Natasha O'Brien Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1979 Together? Louise
1980 When Time Ran Out Kay Kirby
1981 Inchon Barbara Hallsworth
1981 Rich and Famous Liz Hamilton
1983 Class Ellen Burroughs
1984 Under the Volcano Yvonne Firmin Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1984 Forbidden Nina von Halder Nominated—CableACE Award for Actress in a Movie or Miniseries
1985 Anna Karenina Anna Karenina Television movie
1986 Choices Marisa Granger Television movie
1987 High Season Katherine Shaw
1988 La maison de Jade Jane Lambert
1989 Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills Clare Lipkin
1990 Wild Orchid Claudia Dennis
1991 Maid, TheThe Maid Nicole Chantrelle Television movie
1991 Rossini! Rossini! Isabella Colbran
1993 Corrupt Justice Holly McPhee AKA CrimeBroker
1993 Les marmottes Frédérique
1995 La Cérémonie Catherine Lelievre Nominated—César Award for Best Supporting Actress
1996 September Pandora Television movie
1996 Once You Meet a Stranger Sheila Gaines Television movie
1997 End of Summer Christine Van Buren Television movie
1998 Dangerous Beauty Paola Franco
1999 Let the Devil Wear Black Helen Lyne
1999 Witch Hunt Barbara Thomas Television movie
1999 Jesus Mary Television movie
2000 Britannic Lady Lewis Television movie
2000 Les gens qui s'aiment Angie
2000 Sex & Mrs. X Madame Simone Television movie
2000 In the Beginning Sarah Television movie
2001 Sleepy Time Gal, TheThe Sleepy Time Gal Frances
2001 New Years Day Geraldine
2002 Dancing at the Harvest Moon Maggie Webber Television movie
2003 America's Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis Television movie
2003 Latter Days Lila Montagne
2003 Swing Christine / Mrs. DeLuca
2004 Survivors Club, TheThe Survivors Club Carol Rosen Television movie
2004 Fascination Maureen Doherty
2005 Fine Art of Love: Mine Ha-Ha, TheThe Fine Art of Love: Mine Ha-Ha' Headmistress
2005 Domino Sophie Wynn
2005 Summer Solstice Alexia White Television movie
2006 Save the Last Dance 2 Monique Delacroix
2007 Carolina Moon Margaret Lavelle Television movie
2008 Death in Love Mother
2008 Old Fashioned Thanksgiving, AnAn Old Fashioned Thanksgiving Isabella Television movie
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
2010 Last Film Festival, TheThe Last Film Festival Claudia Benvenuti
2010 An Old Fashioned Christmas Isabella Television movie
2012 Two Jacks Diana
2014 Welcome to New York Simone Devereaux
2015 Miss You Already TBD Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1987 Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story Josephine de Beauharnais 3 episodes
1999 Joan of Arc Isabelle d'Arc 2 episodes
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
1999 Hey Arnold! Madame Parvenu Episode: "Grudge Match/Polishing Rhonda"
2001–2002 Ally McBeal Frances Shaw 2 episodes
2003 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Juliet Barclay Episode: "Control"
2006 Nip/Tuck James LeBeau 7 episodes
2009 Eastmans, TheThe Eastmans Emma Eastman Unsold TV pilot
2011–2012 Rizzoli & Isles Constance Isles 3 episodes
2013 Dancing on the Edge Lady Lavinia Cremone 4 episodes
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film


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  12. Olivia de Havilland, Jacqueline Bisset receive French honors USA Today. 9 September 2010
  13. "Jacqueline Bisset back for first UK drama role in nearly 40 years" The Guardian, 30 December 2012.
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  15. The Times Michael Sarrazin Obituary p67, 20 April 2011.
  16. "VINCENT PEREZ : "CA FAIT DU BIEN D'ÊTRE AMOUREUX, MÊME SI ÇA NE DURE PAS"". Closer. Paris, France. 3 January 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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External links