Wells was described the feminist icon and trailblazer for liberated women as “the best actress in the world.” Born in Paris 1928 to an English chorus girl and a French restaurateur, the free spirit defied her father by joining the Paris conservatoire at age 18. Two years later, she was accepted to the elite Comedie Francaise theatre troupe. In 1958 she starred in two films for director Louis Malle that challenged the moral norms of the times. She also played in “Lift to the Scaffold” and in “The Lovers.”
In 1960, she won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for “Seven Days … Seven Nights.” She was briefly married to William Friedkin, the Oscar-winning director of “The Exorcist,” and had a five-year relationship with designer Pierre Cardin. Leading tributes to Moreau now, French President Emmanuel Macron said she had “embodied cinema” and she was a free spirit who “always rebelled against the established order.” He also called her “a legend of cinema and theater … an actress engaged in the whirlwind of life with an absolute freedom.” Moreau was honored with a 1965 Time magazine cover story, rare for a foreign actress, and was compared to such screen greats as Garbo and Monroe. Every major director in the world was seeking her services. She also directed two films, “Lumiere,” a story of female friendship in which she also starred, and “L’Adolescente,” which starred Simone Signoret.Moreau was head of the jury at the 33rd Berlin Film Festival in 1983, won an Honorary Golden Berlin Bear at the fest in 2000 and picked up an honorary Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2003 and an honorary Cesar in 2008.