Depression, suicide of her ex-husband… A look back at Romy Schneider’s last years

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In the mid-1970s, the muse of French cinema Romy Schneider still continued to fascinate directors. Fans find her on the big screen in several films such as Le Train or Un amour derain by Jean-Claude Brialy. On a more intimate level, her marriage to Harry Meyen was in bad shape so that in the early 1970s, the couple separated for good. An expensive divorce for the actress who bequeathed half of her fortune to her. From now on, it is on the arm of journalist Daniel Biasini (his secretary for two years) that “Sissi” intends to live out his old age, he who gets along so well with his son David.

Everything seems to have succeeded with the German – naturalized French – since the release of the film The Old Gun by Robert Enrico. At the height of her popularity, she now wants to expand her family. But in the story of the actress, happiness never comes without a hint of suffering. On December 31, 1975, she was rushed to a Paris hospital. The child she was expecting with Daniel Biasini did not survive. It was not until 1977 that the actress gave birth to her second child, a girl named Sarah Magdalena Biasini.

Very affected by the tragic disappearance of her father, Wolf Albach-Retty, in 1967, following a heart attack, Romy Schneider must live with the suicide of her ex-husband, Harry Meyen in 1979. Dramas that come s add to his already compromised sanity.

On the set of the Italian feature film Ghost of Love, released in 1981, Romy Schneider must also face the accusing looks of her companion Daniel Biasini. “Among his belongings I found several boxes of Optalidon. One was missing three suppositories. Romy confessed to me that she had made herself a “cocktail” with three bottles of red wine which had produced their effect. She was like paralyzed”, can we read in the work of Emmanuel Bonini in The real Romy Schneider.

Difficult for the ex-fiancée of Alain Delon to play the comedy without the help of drugs, she who was in such a state of distress. “She was dependent, it was stronger than her. She felt better in the short term but in the long term it destroys”, explains the biographer. In his Memoirs, his make-up artist Michel Deruelle will say about him that the star was the victim of a malaise amplified by his mixtures of alcohol and drugs.

Depressed, Romy Schneider is about to weather a storm from which it will be impossible for her to recover. In 1981 and after a “break”, Daniel Biasini and Romy Schneider put an end to their relationship. That same year, the actress was offered to play in the feature film La Passante du Sans-Souci by Jacques Rouffio. A shooting of the most complex and difficult which will be the last of the actress.

After having postponed the filming of the film for three months following a foot injury, Romy Schneider must undergo emergency surgery. Suffering from a tumor on the right kidney, she must undergo an ablation of the organ. A lesser evil for Romy Schneider when we know that her greatest pain will occur a few weeks later.

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In a relationship with a certain Laurent Pétin, assistant on the set of Fantôme d’amour, Romy Schneider must rest following his right kidney operation. The one who is about to return to the film sets to play in La Passante du Sans-Souci faces the demands of a son who wishes to move away from Paris.

The star accepts, but which city to choose? Not far from the capital, Daniel Biasini’s parents live in an opulent house located in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Go for this city of Yvelines. Enrolled in high school, David Meyen now lives like all children his age, far from the tumult of the media and red carpets. But at 14, like many pre-teens his age, Romy Schneider’s son has no concept of danger. This is what will cost him his life on Sunday, July 5, 1981.

After attending a bicycle race in Montesson, the young boy decides to return to the family home of his adopted grandparents. Problem, the gate of the house is locked and the parents of Daniel Biasini must probably take their nap. It is out of the question to disturb them for so little, he who has already climbed the grid on which iron spikes are erected several times. It was without taking into account this awkwardness on his part which will make him fall on the grid for almost fifty centimeters right in the middle of his intestine.

Despite the relentlessness of several surgeons for nearly four hours, David Meyen died of the consequences of his perforation in the femoral artery.

A death from which it was “impossible to recover” explains Emmanuel Bonini and for good reason, the day before his death, Romy Schneider and his son had left angry on the phone. As if the death of a child was not painful enough for the mother she was, Romy Schneider suffered in parallel from the vicious actions of the paparazzi.

Fans of the actress will undoubtedly remember her time on Michel Drucker’s Champs-Elysées show. “I would like to worry more about my personal life and make fewer films than before. But to succeed in my private life, I must finally be left alone. If you know what some photographers are capable of. To dress up as nurses to photograph a dead child… (…) Where is the moral? Where is the tact? Alain Delon will even say after his death: “It was too abused and jostled, this heart which was only that of a woman, in the evening, sitting in front of a glass… They say that the despair that death caused you of David killed you. No, they are wrong. He didn’t kill you. He finished you.”

The one who lived for her profession quickly finds the film sets after the tragic death of her son David. As the headliner of the film La passere du Sans-Souci, Romy Schneider decides to give herself body and soul. In the feature film directed by Jacques Rouffio, the actress plays the role of a young 12-year-old actor, Wendelin Werner. How not to see in this pre-teen the shadow of his son David who died some time earlier? A resemblance far too harsh for the actress who will die at the age of 43.

On May 29, 1982, the body of Romy Schneider was found lifeless by her companion Laurent Pétin in her apartment located in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. His body will never be autopsied. “The Paris prosecutor did not want an autopsy because behind the word “autopsy” there are operations and he did not want that for Romy Schneider. He did not want to damage the body”, explains Emmanuel Bonini. “Sissi” was buried on June 2 in the Boissy-sans-Avoir cemetery, the town where her country house was located. Wounded for life by the death of her son, she would have asked that her ex-husband Daniel Biasini “not see her on her deathbed”, reports the biographer.

Difficult, even for those close to the actress, like her daughter Sarah Biasini, to fully and completely identify Romy Schneider. Who was she really? A talented actress who suffered her life through successive dramas? Emmanuel Bonini gives us some answers. “She didn’t need to appear. She was a girl who loved her job above all else and who failed to make the connection between her job and her private life. She never made it because she was – in a way – a bit damned. This role of Elizabeth of Austria was fatal to her in some way. She could not find peace on this earth”, he explained and concluded: “Romy said ‘Why do I have to pay so much for everything?'”.

Having become a popular icon, Romy Schneider continues to attract crowds. Discover our third episode on the reasons for this incredible posterity to be released on May 29, 2022.