Jean Seberg

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Jean Dorothy Seberg[1] (November 13, 1938 – August 30, 1979) was an American actress. She starred in 37 films in Hollywood and in France, including Breathless (1960), the musical Paint Your Wagon (1969) and the disaster film Airport (1970).


Early life

Seberg was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, the daughter of Dorothy (née Benson), a substitute teacher, and Edward Seberg, who was a druggist.[2][3] Her family was Lutheran and of part Swedish ancestry.[4][5] Seberg studied at the University of Iowa.


Seberg made her film debut in 1957 in the title role of Saint Joan, from the Shaw play, after being chosen from 18,000 hopefuls by director Otto Preminger in a $150,000 talent search, in which she was entered by a neighbor.[6] By the time she was cast, on October 21, 1956, she had one summer of stock performances as her only experience.[7] The film was paired with a lot of publicity, on which Seberg commented that she was "embarrassed by all the attention".[6] Despite a big build-up, which was called in the press a "Pygmalion experiment", both the film and Seberg received poor notices.[8] On the failure, she later told the press:

Preminger, though, had promised her a second chance,[8] and he cast Seberg in his next film Bonjour Tristesse the next year, which was filmed on location in France. On this decision, Preminger told the press: "It's quite true, that if I had chosen Audrey Hepburn instead of Jean Seberg it would have been less of a risk, but I prefer to take the risk. [..] I have faith in her. Sure, she still has things to learn about acting, but so did Kim Novak when she started."[8] Regardless, Seberg again received atrocious reviews, and the film nearly ended her career.[9] Her next role was in the 1959 comedy, The Mouse That Roared, which starred Peter Sellers.

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