French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo has died

French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo has died, AFP news agency quotes lawyers as saying.

Born in 1933, Belmondo was initially associated with the New Wave of the 1960s and one of the biggest French film stars of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. His best known credits include Breathless (1960) and That Man from Rio (1964).

As a boy he was more interested in sport than school, developing a particular interest in boxing and soccer.

Belmondo made his amateur boxing debut on 10 May 1949 in Paris when he knocked out Rene Desmarais in one round. Belmondo’s boxing career was undefeated, but brief. He won three straight first round knockout victories from 1949 to 1950. “I stopped when the face I saw in the mirror began to change,” he later said.

As part of his compulsory military service, he served in Algeria as a private for six months.

Belmondo’s acting career properly began in 1953, with two performances at Theatre de L’Atelier in Paris, Jean Anouilh’s Medee and Georges Neveux’s Zamore. Belmondo began touring the provinces with friends including Annie Girardot and Guy Bedos.

Belmondo first appeared in the short Moliere (1956). His first film role was a scene with Jean-Pierre Cassel in On Foot, on Horse, and on Wheels (1957), which was cut from the final film; however he had a bigger part in the follow up A Dog, a Mouse, and a Sputnik (1958).

Belmondo switched in the 1960s to mainstream films and became one of France’s leading comedy and action heroes.

In 2001, he was hospitalised with a stroke, and did not make any films until 2009’s A Man and His Dog, which did not hide the effects of his condition. In June last year he was seen attending the funeral of the comedian and screenwriter Guy Bedos in Paris.

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