Legendary French New Wave actress Anna Karina passes away at 79

The actress who had played pivotal roles in movies like Band Of Outsiders, A Woman Is a Woman, was battling cancer

Hailed as a legend of the French New Wave film movement, Anna Karina passed away following a battle with cancer at the age of 79. Born as Hanne Karin Bayer, legendary actress passed away in Paris in the presence of her husband Dennis Berry, an American director.

The news of Karina's demise was given by her agent Laurent Balandras, who said, "Anna died yesterday in a Paris hospital of the effects of cancer." It was at the insistence of designer Coco Chanel that Bayer changed her named to Anna Karina.

Life and times of Anna Karina

Anna Karina
Anna Karina passed away at the age of 79 Wikimedia Commons/Joost Evers

A former cabaret singer who became a regular in the 60's films directed by Jean-Luc Godard, her former husband, Karina's journey to the tinsel town began after she, still in her teens, hitchhiked her way to Paris. Godard first discovered Karina in a Palmolive advertisement in which she was covered in soap suds while sitting inside a bathtub.

Godard who was a newcomer working on Breathless, his debut film, offered her a role. A native of Denmark, Karina refused to be part of the film as it required a nude scene. Later, Karina became a part of several films made by Godard, which included: The Little Soldier, A Woman Is a Woman, Vivre sa vie, Band of Outsiders, and Pierrot le fou.

French Cinema loses a gem

An epitome of beauty remembered for her kohl-rimmed eyes and petite features; Karina won the best actress award for her role in A Woman is a Woman during the Berlin film festival in 1961. She married her first husband Godard the very same year. The couple got divorced four years later in 1965.

"We loved each other a lot. But it was complicated to live with him. He was someone who could say to you, 'I am going to get some cigarettes' and come back three weeks later," said Karina while talking about her estranged husband.

The actress whose last movie was Victoria, released in 2008 was written down by her. She also starred in several films directed by a number of directors including Jacques Rivette, Tony Richardson, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Luchino Visconti.

France's culture minister Franck Riester tweeted, "Today, French cinema has been orphaned. It has lost one of its legends. Her look was the look of New Wave. It will remain so forever."