Jean Dorothy Seberg was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, to Dorothy Arline (Benson), a substitute teacher, and Edward Waldemar Seberg, a pharmacist. Her father was of Swedish descent and her mother was of English and German ancestry.
One month before her eighteenth birthday, Jean landed the title role in Otto Preminger’s Saint Joan (1957) after a much-publicized contest involving some 18,000 hopefuls. The failure of that film and the only moderate success of her next, Bonjour Tristesse (1958), combined to stall Seberg’s career, until her role in Jean-Luc Godard’s landmark feature, Breathless (1960), brought her renewed international attention. Seberg gave a memorable performance as a schizophrenic in the title role of Robert Rossen’s Lilith (1964) opposite Warren Beatty and went on to appear in over 30 films in Hollywood and Europe.
In the late 1960s, Seberg became involved in anti-war politics and was the target of an undercover campaign by the FBI to discredit her because of her association with several members of the Black Panther party. She was found dead under mysterious circumstances in Paris in 1979.
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