Nancy Lindemeyer, the editor of Victoria magazine and a one-time colleague of Gold Derby founder Tom O’Neil, makes a compelling case for the academy to honor Leslie Caron. Below: her words:
Gene Kelly‘s enthusiasm for a young dancer to star with him in “An American in Paris” gave the world a treasure. Thank heaven for the young dancer who became one of our great actresses — twice nominated for Academy Awards. Once for the enchanting performance of “Lili” and then for the purely dramatic and heart wrenching portrayal of a pregnant woman in “The L-Shaped Room.” The latter brought her the top British acting award. It was a brave step in more than one way. Working against type, she disrupted the image that had brought her commercial success.
Leslie Caron once told me her dilemma. “The French think I am American, and Americans think I am French.” Both are actually right. Her mother was a dancer from Topeka, Kansas, while her father was a French chemist. Knowing her, one does not reject her American streak of independence and “getting on with it.” Leslie Caron now holds American citizenship.
Sometimes in our world we take for granted things. Perhaps we have come to do that with this incredible actress who has never stopped performing in films, television, and on stage. I recall her moments on screen in Louis Malle‘s “Damage.” She took hold of a pivotal role and shook it into pure drama.
Am I prejudiced? Of course I am. I have come to know a highly intelligent woman who is a marvelous friend. She showed her American pluck when with her own hands she transformed an old building in Burgundy into a charming inn. As editor of a magazine, I invited her to create dramatic readings of the work of Colette in New York. She performed in English–and in French for students. Afterwards she embraced Colette in performances in other parts of the world.
Her book, “Thank Heaven,” is not only the story of her creative life, but a textbook for anyone in the performing arts. She would have it no other way.
And so, why should Leslie Caron not be worthy of gold for her work in the film industry.? It is more than time, and heaven will thank you for this worthy gesture.