Jacqueline Bisset: A Biographical Sketch

One of the main sources for this biography is a series of articles of Jacqueline Bisset's "Memories", published in the British magazine Hello! in 1993.

Her Family and Early Life

at 11 months
(age 5) and
brother Max
Born September 13, 1944, in England; named "Winifred Jacqueline Fraser Bisset". Her father, Max Fraser Bisset, was a doctor; her mother, Arlette Alexander, had been a lawyer in France before getting married. She has an older brother, also named Max. Her last name (it is usually said) rhymes with "Kiss it" or "illicit". Here is the definitive answer on how to pronounce her name: 1.5 MB QuickTime Movie or 28 kB mp3 audio file (from Hollywood Fashion Machine).

She was born in Weybridge, Surrey; her mother and brother had been evacuated there because of a wartime bombing in their village. Her father was working in a hospital in Iceland at the time.

She grew up in a 400-year old cottage in Tilehurst, near Reading. She and her brother played together - sometimes roughly (she mentions once breaking a stool over his head!). She took ballet classes, but her cramped feet convinced her to give it up.

When Jacqueline was 15, her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This required Jacqueline to take a great deal of responsibility for her mother's care. She credits this experience for developing much of her inner strength. Her parents eventually divorced. (Jacqueline has never been married, and has no children.)

At 16, Jacqueline was enrolled in the Lycée Français; the intention was to learn French before going to university. Instead of going to college, Jacqueline became interested in the cinema. In order to earn the money for acting lessons, she became a model.

(age 6)
for camera.

Her Career

Jacqueline started modelling in London at age 18. She worked with some of the top photographers of the day: Terry Donovan, David Bailey, etc. She got her first unbilled bit part in Richard Lester's "The Knack...and How To Get It" (1965). She quickly moved on to small supporting roles (1967) and then bigger supporting roles in "big" movies, and starring roles in lesser movies (1968-69). She had two sudden bursts of fame: in 1968, because she replaced Mia Farrow in "The Detective", opposite Frank Sinatra; and in 1977, when her role in "The Deep" put her on magazine covers around the world.

See the Filmography for more details about her film career.

These pictures appeared in Hello! magazine. The picture on the far left is from an early modelling job in London. The caption says the picture at left is the south of France, durng the filming of "Two for the Road." In fact, this is a publicity photo from "The Grasshopper"; it was used on a lobby card.

Her Romances

As mentioned above, Jacqueline has never been married. But she has spoken publicly about at least five long-term romantic involvements: Michael Sarrazin, Victor Drai, Alexander Godunov, Vincent Perez, and, most recently, Emin Boztepe. (Of course, since she is a movie star, Hollywood gossip has linked her romantically with several of her co-stars over the years, but all such rumors must be taken with a large grain of salt.)

She met Michael Sarrazin in 1968, making "The Sweet Ride". They soon moved in together. They originally lived in a cottage that had started out as a packing crate for a piano. They later starred together in "Believe in Me" (and bought a more substantial house). They went their separate ways in 1974.

Jacqueline then began a relationship with Victor Drai. He ran a clothing company in Paris. Their involvement lasted several years, before they parted. Drai went on to produce several movies in Hollywood.

In 1981, Jacqueline met Alexander Godunov, who had defected from Russia in 1979. Their relationship lasted into the mid-1980's, and they appeared together on the cover of People magazine. Godunov gave up ballet for acting, but they split up around 1986. Godunov died in 1995.

While filming 1987's "Le Maison de Jade", Jacqueline became romantically involved with her co-star, Vincent Perez. This relationship lasted a few years, until the frequent long-distance separations brought it to an end.

Since 1997, Jacqueline has often been seen and photographed with Emin Boztepe, a martial arts instructor. The photo at left is from a 1997 post-Oscar party. They parted in 2005.


Jacqueline has been nominated for four Golden Globe Awards. The first time was for the 1969 award for New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture - Female for her appearance in "The Sweet Ride" (Michael Sarrazin was also nominated in the corresponding male category).

She was nominated for the 1979 award in the category Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical for "Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?".

Her performance in "Under the Volcano" earned her a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role - Motion Picture in 1985. She co-hosted (with Pierce Brosnan) the Golden Globes, in 1986, I believe.

She was nominated for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in a Movie or Miniseries for her work in "Joan of Arc".

Early in her career, Jacqueline was a nominee/awardee for several "Golden Laurel" awards, presented by Motion Picture Exhibitor Magazine (not to be confused with the more recent Produceer's Guild awards). Unfortunately, the IMDb gives conflicting information on the results for these awards. In 1968, she competed for Female New Face, and seems to be one of several winners; except is also says she finished in 5th place. In 1970, in the same category, she is listed as being third place (though again, there seem to be 7 winners). Then in 1971, she seems to a winner (in a 7-way tie) for Star, Female (though it also says "8th place"), and also a winner for Best Dramatic Performance, Female, for The Grasshopper (only a two-way tie, with Glenda Jackson; but also described as "4th place"). [I'll have to check other references; if anyone has any information on these awards from a source other than IMDb, please let me know.]

Also, she was nominated for a CableACE award as Best Actress in a Movie or Miniseries for "Forbidden".

In 1996, Jacqueline was nominated for a "César" award, the French equivalent of the Oscar. This was for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for "La Cérémonie".

In 2001, she received an honorary "Roger" from the Avignon/New York Film Festival, and the "CineMerit" award from the Munich FilmFest. Both were for her lifetime of contributions to the cinema.

In February, 2002, she was won the first Cambridge Film award for an actress, for her performance in The Sleepy Time Gal.

The 2003 Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival presented Jacqueline with a "Career Achievement Award".

This page (and all original material on this site) is copyrighted by John Bartelt.

This page last updated 8 October 2006.

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