Tina Aumont: This beautiful bad girl was the junkie ‘Zelig’ of the 60s and 70s Euro underground
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The images, gifs and scans here come from the Tina Aumont Tumblr

Over the course of the past, say, twenty years, I’ve gradually become more and more aware of the late actress Tina Aumont, who died in 2006. She’s one of the great (albeit largely unknown) beauties of the 60s and 70s, and a sort of gorgeous bad girl “Zelig” figure uniting disparate famous people from old school Hollywood types to the Warhol crowd and 60s and 70s European film notables. Truly she was the junkie underground “Kevin Bacon” game connector of the era, if nearly forgotten today.

I first laid eyes on the luminous Aumont in Joseph Losey’s Modesty Blaise, but she was billed there under her married name Tina Marquand. I probably first read her name in Richard Witts’ Nico: The Life and Lies of an Icon, his 1995 biography of the Velvet Underground chanteuse. The first time I actually saw Aumont onscreen—and had any context for her—was later that same year when she was an interviewee in the Nico: Icon documentary.

So my entré to Tina Aumont was being a big Nico freak, which invariably led to an interest in the films of Nico’s paramour, bohemian French film director Philippe Garrel. Aumont was in several of Garrel’s underground films and was the one who first introduced Garrel—then seen as a sort of cinematic Rimbaud—to Nico in 1969, suggesting that her new music (The Marble Index) would be perfect for his Le Lit de la Vierge. (She gifted him with a version of “The Falconeer” heard only in that film, which starred Aumont, with Pierre Clémenti as Jesus.)

Aumont was born on Valentine’s Day of 1946 in Hollywood, California and it was at birth that her first Zelig-style cameo took place: Her mother was the ill-fated “Queen of Technicolor” Maria Montez, the exotic star of such films as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and Cobra Woman. (Jack Smith’s notoriously perverse Flaming Creatures is an homage to Montez and the word “camp” was practically coined to describe her flamboyant performances. Kenneth Anger has cited Cobra Woman as his favorite film.) Marlene Dietrich is said to have sung baby Tina to sleep and Jean Cocteau wrote a poem for her (“La Fille aux étoiles”) when she was born. An auspicious birth by any definition, but her mother died of a heart attack at the age of 31 when Tina was just five. Her father was the dashing French actor and war hero Jean-Pierre Aumont.

By the time she was 17, with the full approval and encouragement of her father, who thought she was a wild child and wanted to see her settle down, Tina married actor Christian Maquand in 1963. Maquand was a heartthrob actor who was in And God Created Woman playing opposite Brigitte Bardot. He also directed the star-studded adaptation of Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg’s Candy. He was 19 years her senior and close friends with director Roger Vadim and Marlon Brando. This is where her social circle really starts to expand. Imagine what a documentary might look like about Tina Aumont, containing as it would film footage and photographs of her at that age alongside of people like Brando, Vadim, Jane Fonda, Roman Polanski and Donald Cammell. The great New York acting teacher Stella Adler. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the Stones inner circle: art dealer Robert Fraser, Stash Klossowski and Marianne Faithfull. Bob Dylan. The Who. You get the picture.

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Posted by Richard Metzger
07:49 pm