Est-ce vraiment toi Moreau?

By | Mar 20, 2021 | No Comments

Jeanne Moreau was one of my favorite actresses. When she was in town, she often came to dine at Trattoria Dell’Arte, preferring to sit in the smoking section near the restaurant’s front before they banned it in New York. But I did not realize who she was until months later when I began chatting with her about some mundane things. Until then, we had never formally introduced ourselves by name.

Jeanne Moreau
Jeanne Moreau

She had come in one Sunday for brunch with two male companions, and I offered her her usual table. As soon as she sat, she lit her cigarette and probably smoked half a pack within an hour.

I’d stop by her table occasionally to check on her—as I often did with all of our other guests—and asked how she was enjoying her meal. As she began talking, it suddenly registered that I might be talking to one of France’s greatest film stars. But I just wasn’t sure. She was much older then, and my image of her was of the classic films like Jules et JimLes Amant, and La Notte. So I asked her what she did in a roundabout way, and one of her friends chimed in and said that she performs. I replied, “What kind of performing?” Her other friend retorted, “Film.” I said, “Really? We get our fair share of movie stars in this place.” And she replied, “I know.”

So I started this quiz to figure out who she was, which I believe she was enjoying because, after 20 minutes, we were still at it. The restaurant wasn’t busy that day, so I had time. Moreover, there was no internet in those days to speak of, so I couldn’t Google anything to discover who my mystery lady was. Anyhow, after an hour, I was still stumped. When it came time to pay the bill, I thought for sure I would find out from her credit card. But one of her companions wound up paying.

Finally, I gave in and asked her what her name was, and she simply said, “Jeanne.” And then it hit me. I bleated, “Moreau?” And she said, “Voilà!”

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