The magnetic Alain Delon was among the most prominent French actors of the postwar era; an exotically handsome performer, he sprung from offscreen rumor and scandal to emerge as a uniquely enigmatic and sinister talent. Born November 8, 1935, in Sceaux, France, Delon spent his formative years primarily in the care of foster parents. He later was sent away to a series of boarding schools, and at the age of 17, he joined the marines, serving as a parachutist in Indo-China. Upon his discharge, Delon returned to Marseilles and struck up a friendship with aspiring actor Jean-Claude Brialy, who invited him to attend the 1957 Cannes Film Festival. There Delon's delicate good looks won him a number of movie offers, including a rumored seven-year deal with David O. Selznick. In the end, he accepted a small role in the Edwige Feuillere film Quand la Femme S'en Mele, followed by an appearance in 1957's Sois Belle Et Tais-Toi.
Delon's first lead role in a picture came opposite Romy Schneider, to whom he was later briefly engaged, in 1958's Christine. A handful of other supporting turns followed before he won the lead in Rene Clement's stylish 1960 thriller Plein Soleil, an international hit which cast him as a murderous American traveling abroad. In 1960, he appeared in Luchino Visconti's Rocco e i Suoi Fratelli. Under Visconti, he also reunited with Schneider on-stage in a production of 'Tis Pity She's a Whore. Next teaming again with Clement, Delon appeared in 1961's Che Gioia Vivere, followed by an appearance with Brigitte Bardot in Les Amours Celebres.