Anna Karina, French New Wave Cinema Star, Dead at 79

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The actress died of cancer on Saturday, her agent said.

Rest in peace, Anna Karina. 

The Danish-born actress famous for her French New Wave films died of cancer on Saturday, her agent, Laurent Balandras, wrote on Twitter. She was 79. The news was also confirmed by France’s culture minister, Franck Riester, on the social media platform. 

Karina became a symbol of the French New Wave -- or Nouvelle Vague -- after starring in her then-husband Jean Luc Godard's films in the 1960s. She served as his muse in movies like 1961's A Woman Is a Woman, for which she received a Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, 1962's Vivre sa vie, 1964's Band of Outsiders, and 1965's Pierrot le Fou and Alphaville. Karina and Godard were married from 1961 to 1964. 

Throughout her long career, Karina also starred in English-language projects, like 1968's The Magnus and Before Winter Comes, 1969's Justine and Laughter in the Dark and 1982's Regina Roma, in which she starred alongside Anthony Quinn and Ava Gardner.

Karina was born Hanne-Karine Blarke Bayer in Copenhagen in 1940 and raised by her grandparents and mother, who ran a clothing store. At age 15, she began modeling for Danish fashion magazines and was an extra in movies. Two years later, Karina headed to Paris, where she was discovered by a modeling scout and starting posing for French fashion magazines like Elle and Marie Claire. She was also featured in ads for Palmolive, Pepsodent and Coca-Cola.

The actress changed her name after a meeting with Coco Chanel in 1958, during which the fashion designer told her "Anna Karina" sounded better. She used the name for her movie career, which was catapulted by Godard's A Woman Is a Woman

After her marriage to Godard, Karina was married to actor Pierre Fabre, actor-director Daniel Duval and writer-director Dennis Berry, who cast her in his films Last Song and Chloé. Berry was reportedly by her side when she died on Saturday. 

See more on stars we've recently lost in the video below.