Montand was a paedophileclaims step-daughter

30th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 30 (AFP) - The step-daughter of the late French singer and actor Yves Montand has stirred up a bitter row over the competing demands of privacy and public interest with the release of a book in which she claims she was abused by him as a child.

PARIS, Sept 30 (AFP) - The step-daughter of the late French singer and actor Yves Montand has stirred up a bitter row over the competing demands of privacy and public interest with the release of a book in which she claims she was abused by him as a child.  

In "An upside-down world", Catherine Allegret - the 58-year-old daughter of the actress Simone Signoret - describes an incident in which Montand molested her in the bath when she was five, and says that in later life he regularly harassed her and once attempted rape.  

But far from provoking pity or horror, the autobiography has been greeted instead by a wall of disapproval, with hostile coverage in the press, questions raised over Allegret's motives, and expressions of outrage from Montand's army of fans.  

Allegret was five when Signoret married Montand in 1951. She later had a brief career as an actress and is now the mother of one of France's leading television presenters Benjamin Castaldi.  

Interviewed by French newspapers this week, she said she was prompted to write the book by claims in the magazine Paris-Match that she and Montand were lovers. She said she refused to call her step-father a paedophile, and described what happened as an "aberration" for which she had forgiven him.  

Montand, who died in 1991 at the age of 70, was one of France's best-loved entertainers with a string of hit songs such as "Les feuilles mortes" and "Sous le ciel de Paris" and starring roles in some 50 films including "Is Paris burning?" and "Jean de Florette".  

Allegations of sexual misconduct first surfaced earlier this year in a book by Castaldi, who said that Montand had something of the "monster" in him. Another book out next month refers to homosexual escapades in Montand's youth, with author Jean-Claude Brialy complaining that "later he called me a dirty poof."  

According to Allegret, Montand was "a weird step-father, sometimes abusive, over-familiar. I endured a troubling and traumatic relationship with him, one imposed by an adult on a child."  

After telling her mother of Montand's advances, instead of expressing shock Signoret gave them her tacit approval. "Don't worry darling. It's really rather nice. It's a way of keeping our romance alive," Signoret said, which Allegret took as meaning, "As long as he was interested in me, he wouldn't leave."  

Allegret's book, which comes out next week, has an initial print run of 60,000 and with accompanying media blitz is expected to be a best-seller of the autumn season.  

But a censorious attitude to kiss-and-tell commercialism has already assured the autobiography a hostile response from France's literary establishment and entertainment in-crowd, for whom it is an unfair intrusion into the life of a lamented icon.  

In a scathing editorial Thursday, Le Parisien newspaper accused Allegret of being in it for the money. "The whole strategy is if not Machiavellian, at the very least self-seeking.

However true the confession is, it leaves a nasty taste," it said.  

According to acquaintances quoted in Liberation newspaper, Allegret has complained about the dwindling income from Montand's royalties, while anonymous detractors said that after her failed acting career she had a psychological need to compete with her famous parents and son.  

The paper also quoted Montand's nephew film-producer Jean-Louis Livi: "Accusing a man when he can no longer defend himself is abject. She is sending him to hell. I hope she can sleep in peace."

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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