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Jean Seberg (1938-1979)- 20th Anniversary Tribute. 1999 by Stephen B Whatley | by Stephen B. Whatley
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Jean Seberg (1938-1979)- 20th Anniversary Tribute. 1999 by Stephen B Whatley

Tribute to the beautiful and sensitive American actress and left-wing activist Jean Seberg (1938-1979) who died tragically a couple of months before her 41st birthday, in Paris.

This painting was begun on 30 August 1999, 20 years to the approx. day of her death ( she was found dead in her car, from an apparent overdose of barbituates, 9 days after she had gone missing on that date); and completed in November, her birthday month.

 

Jean Seberg's rise to fame and ultimate iconic status is one of Hollywood's Cinderella stories. Plucked from the obscurity of her hometown in Iowha, USA, by the film director Otto Preminger in 1957 to play the lead role in 'Saint Joan' she suffered the humiliation of having her acting panned by the critics; after abusive treatment from the diractor, during filming. In 1959 however she had the good fortune to be picked by independent director Jean-Luc Godard for the lead role in A bout De Souffle aka Breathless (FR 1959), filmed in Paris; the film for which she is most remembered.

 

The French capital became her home - and away from Hollywood she followed her natural inclination towards the support of downtrodden minority groups ; particularly the revolutionary group The Black Panthers- which aroused the suspicions of the FBI, who put her under surveillance. In between Jean continued to act in numerous pictures; including Airport (US 1970), the notable Lilith (US 1964) and finally in The Wild Duck (GER 1976).

 

Beautiful, intelligent, poetic, artistic, Jean Seberg was ultimately too sensitive and unstable to withstand the pressures that enveloped her life and suffered several breakdowns, before her tragic death; which itself remains shrouded in mystery. Her sole survivor is her son Diego Gary (1963-) who lives today in Spain.

 

Oil on canvas,

30 x 24in/ 76 x 61cm

 

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Taken on September 22, 2006