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Darling of French New Wave cinema Anna Karina dies aged 79

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By Mark Armstrong  with AFP
Darling of French New Wave cinema Anna Karina dies aged 79

Anna Karina, the epitome of French New Wave cinema, has died of cancer at the age of 79, according to her agent.

The Danish-French actress was the muse of director Jean-Luc Godard and starred in seven of his films including "Pierrot Le Fou".

"Anna died yesterday in a Paris hospital of the effects of cancer," her agent Laurent Balandras told the news agency AFP, adding that she passed away in the company of her fourth husband, American director Dennis Berry.

"Today, French cinema has been orphaned. It has lost one of its legends," France's Culture Minister Franck Riester tweeted.

Karina was noted for her elfin features and kohl-rimmed blue eyes.

She was still a teenager when she hitchhiked to Paris from her native Denmark in the hope of becoming an actress.

She began a successful modelling career before being spotted by Godard while walking along the Champs-Elysees.

Godard offered her a nude scene in "Breathless", his first and most famous film, but she refused.

They were already a couple when, at barely 21, she won best actress at the Berlin film festival for his "A Woman is a Woman" in 1961.

"We loved each other a lot," Karina told AFP in an interview in Paris in March 2018. "But it was complicated to live with him," she added.

"He was someone who could say to you, 'I am going to get some cigarettes' and come back three weeks later."

Karina also had some success as a singer, recording "Sous Le Soleil Exactement" with Serge Gainsbourg.