Anna Karina, Star of French New Wave Cinema, Is Dead at 79

Anna Karina, Star of French New Wave Cinema, Is Dead at 79

She went on to make about three dozen other films, and took up directing with the 1973 film “Vivre Ensemble.” “I wanted to see if I could do it. That’s all,” she told The Guardian decades later. She also directed, wrote and starred in her last film, “Victoria” (2008), about a woman with amnesia traveling in Canada.

Ms. Karina also pursued a singing career, with late-1960s hits like “Sous le Soleil Exactement” (“Exactly Under the Sun”), and “Roller Girl,” written by Serge Gainsbourg. And she wrote four novels, including “Golden City” (1983), which she described to the quarterly Film Comment as “a kind of thriller, with gangsters.”

But she was still best known for her earliest film roles.

Hanne Karin Bayer was born on Sept. 22, 1940, in Solbjerg, Denmark, a suburban town on the country’s east coast. Her father left the family a year after her birth. Her mother ran a dress shop.

Hanne lived with her maternal grandparents for three years and was in foster care for four years but eventually went back to live with her mother.

At 14, she dropped out of school, sang in cabarets and worked as a television model. At 17, she ran away from home — hitchhiking to Paris — and was discovered by the casting director of an advertising agency while sitting at Les Deux Magots, the fashionable Left Bank cafe. During a photo shoot for Elle magazine, she met the fashion designer Coco Chanel, who advised her to change her name.

Godard, a film critic at the time, saw her in a movie theater ad for a Palmolive bath product. When he subsequently offered her a small part in his first full-length film, “Breathless” (1960), she objected to doing a nude scene. Godard said he didn’t understand — after all, he had just seen her onscreen in a bathtub, looking very comfortable and showing plenty of skin.

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