French dancer Leslie Caron, who burst onto the scene as the star of the 1951 musical, "An American in Paris," is a Golden Globe- and Emmy Award-winning actress and two-time Oscar nominee. Serendipity had as much a role to play in a career spanning 65 years as did her prodigious talent and timeless charm.
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan
Born in 1931 in a Parisian suburb to a French chemist father and a French-American actress mother, Leslie Caron originally trained for the ballet.
At The Barre
Caron was discovered at age 17, at the Ballet des Champs Elysees in Paris, by Hollywood star Gene Kelly. She calls it luck: "The night Gene Kelly saw me dance, I wasn't supposed to be on the stage," Caron told CBS News' Jane Pauley. "The dancer who was picked to be the head of this ballet was sick, so I did the part.
"Good luck happens to a lot of people all the time, repeatedly. The important thing is to recognize good luck and make good use of it."
"An American in Paris"
She acted the part in "An American in Paris" - a young French girl wooed by an American artist - with tender charm.
"An American in Paris"
A publicity still of Leslie Caron for "An American in Paris."
"An American in Paris"
Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron in "An American in Paris."
Directed by Vincente Minnelli, the film won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, as well as a Special Oscar awarded to actor-choreographer Gene Kelly.
Leslie Caron as a nightclub dancer in Raoul Walsh's film noir, "Glory Alley" (1952).
"The Story of Three Loves"
In the 1953 anthology, "The Story of Three Loves," Leslie Caron is pursued by Farley Granger, thanks to a witch's spell.
Leslie Caron is a young girl romanced by a puppeteer (Mel Ferrer) in the 1953 film, "Lili." She earned her first Oscar nomination for her performance.
"The Glass Slipper"
Leslie Caron and Michael Wilding as Cinderella and the Prince in the 1955 musical, "The Glass Slipper."
"Daddy Long Legs"
Leslie Caron as an orphaned ingenue beguiling Fred Astaire in the 1955 musical, "Daddy Long Legs."
Leslie Caron starred in the 1956 wartime romance "Gaby," the third film treatment of the play, "Waterloo Bridge," and the first to have a happy ending.
Leslie Caron, Louis Jordan and Hermione Gingold sing "The Night They Invented Champagne," in the 1958 musical, "Gigi," about a teenage schoolgirl being prepared for a life as a courtesan.
"Gigi" won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
"The Doctor's Dilemma"
Leslie Caron starred in Anthony Asquith's 1958 film version of "The Doctor's Dilemma" by George Bernard Shaw.
George Peppard and Leslie Caron in "The Subterraneans" (1960), a film version of Jack Kerouac's novel set in the Beat culture of Greenwich Village.
Director Joshua Logan adapted his 1954 stage musical, "Fanny," inspired by the tragic romances of Marcel Pagnol, into a non-musical drama starring Leslie Caron and Horst Buchholz. The film was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture.
"The L-Shaped Room"
Leslie Caron received her second Academy Award nomination for her performance in the 1962 drama, "The L-Shaped Room," as an unwed, pregnant woman who takes up with a struggling writer (Tom Bell) in a London boarding house.
Cary Grant and Leslie Caron in the 1964 comedy, "Father Goose," about a beachcomber in the Pacific during World War II who takes a Frenchwoman and her gaggle of schoolgirls under his watch.
"A Very Special Favor"
Leslie Caron's "Gigi" co-star, Maurice Chevalier, played her father in "A Very Special Favor" (1965), in which a French lawyer dupes a rival attorney (Rock Hudson) into seducing his own daughter.
"Promise Her Anything"
Leslie Caron and Warren Beatty in the 1965 romantic comedy "Promise Her Anything."
"Is Paris Burning"?
Orson Welles and Leslie Caron in "Is Paris Burning"? (1966), a drama about the liberation of Paris from the Nazis.
Leslie Caron presents the Oscar for Best Director to Mike Nichols for "The Graduate" at the 40th Academy Awards ceremony, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, Calif., April 10, 1968.
In the retro film noir "Chandler" (1971), Leslie Caron starred as a Frenchwoman being tailed - and then wooed - by a detective (Warren Oates).
"The Man Who Loved Women"
In Francois Truffaut's "The Man Who Loved Women" (1977), Leslie Caron was one of Charles Denner's obsessions.
In "Valentino," Ken Russell's 1977 biography of the silent screen star, Leslie Caron starred as Alla Nazimova, an actress who professed to have been one of Rudolph Valentino's many lovers.
French actress-dancer Leslie Caron is shown during an interview in Los Angeles, in February 1985.
"Let It Be Me"
Patrick Stewart and Leslie Caron in the musical film, "Let It Be Me" (1995).
Leslie Caron as Madame Audel in the 2000 film "Chocolat," in which a young woman (Juliette Binoche) arrives at a small French village to open a chocolate shop.
Leslie Caron in the Merchant-Ivory production of "Le Divorce," based on Diane Johnson's novel.
Actress Leslie Caron poses at the 60th Venice Film Festival August 31, 2003 in Venice, Italy. Caron presented the James Ivory film, "Le Divorce."
"A Little Night Music"
French actress Leslie Caron performs in "A Little Night Music," at the Chatelet theater in Paris, Friday Feb. 12, 2010.
Actress Leslie Caron, who starred in the 1951 film, "An American in Paris," is presented with flowers by Robert Fairchild along with the rest of the cast of the Broadway musical based on "An American in Paris," (from left, Jill Paice, Max von Essen and Leanne Cope) after a performance in New York, Jan. 15, 2016.