Book claims Yves Montand had secret affair with his stepdaughter

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The Independent Online

One of the greatest stars of the French cinema, the late Yves Montand, had a secret affair with overtones of incest for many years with his stepdaughter, Catherine Allégret, according to a book published yesterday.

One of the greatest stars of the French cinema, the late Yves Montand, had a secret affair with overtones of incest for many years with his stepdaughter, Catherine Allégret, according to a book published yesterday.

The book, written by her son, Benjamin Castaldi, a French television presenter, implies that the relationship began when Mme Allégret was very young and was condoned by her mother, the actress Simone Signoret.

In an epilogue to the book, Mme Allégret, 57, writes: "My son, you have freed me from the burden of a shame, which stifles and submerges with the weight of silence."

The book also implies that Montand, an internationally successful singer, cinema heart-throb and well-known womaniser who died, aged 70, in 1991, seduced his stepdaughter when she was below the age of consent. M. Castaldi reports that his mother once told him: "You should know that when I was expecting you, I prayed that you would be a boy and not a girl."

However, the book - Maintenant, il faudra tout se dire (Now, we must tell ourselves everything), published by Albin Michel - has no details on when the relationship began or when it ended. Catherine was five when her mother married Yves Montand, best known towards the end of his life for his role as a crooked farmer in the 1986 movie Jean de Florette and its sequel Manon des Sources .

M. Castaldi writes in the last chapter of his book: "Montand did not always behave towards her as a stepfather should ... and her own mother [Signoret, who died in 1985] swept the problem under the carpet by dressing it up as a kind of romanticism."

Despite Montand's many affairs, Mme Signoret remained with him until her death. Mme Allégret and Montand were on good terms throughout his life and he even legally adopted her after her mother's death, when she was 39.

Earlier this week, a similar story was unveiled by Sophie Anquetil, 32, daughter of the great, French cycling champion of the 1960s, Jacques Anquetil. In a biography, she revealed that her mother and grandmother shared Anquetil's bed after her grandmother left her husband and went to live with the cyclist in 1969.

In an interview yesterday with the newspaper Le Parisien , M. Castaldi - the presenter of Loft Story , the French equivalent of Big Brother - said that his mother had only recently told him the story of her relationship with Montand.

"There are many things I still don't know in this story, which is first and foremost her story. Let's say that out of 100 metres, I have covered 90 and the remaining 10 I have left up to her."

M. Castaldi says in the book that he remembers his step-grandfather as a cynical, cruel man who often behaved appallingly towards women. He said that Montand once told him about his brief affair with Marilyn Monroe and that she had "beautiful breasts but, otherwise, was nothing special".

Montand was born as Ivo Livi in Monsummano, Tuscany in 1921. When he was still very young, his family moved to Marseilles to escape the fascist regime in Italy. He was a protégé - and briefly a lover - of the great French singer Edith Piaf in the 1940s, before making a career in singing and acting.

He became an international star in both but was, for a time, banned from travelling to the US because of his left-wing sympathies. Once the ban was lifted, he made the movie The Billionaire , with Marilyn Monroe in 1960.

His many other movies included Is Paris Burning? in 1966 and Z in 1969.

After his death a woman called Aurore Drossart claimed he was her father. His family rejected her claims but a court ruled in 1998 that his body should be exhumed and his DNA compared with that of Mme Drossart.

After a series of claims and counter-claims, the procedure was duly carried out and Mme Drossart was ruled not to be Montand's daughter.

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