Gisèle Galante was introduced to me by her mother, Olivia de Havilland, who I interviewed in 1987 to include in my book Women. I decided to do both mother and daughter in the same volume, and given the recent Damehood bestowed on her mother, her daughter’s thoughts seem of interest. Galante obtained a Master’s degree in French criminal law but left her apprenticeship after three years to become a journalist, working for Paris Match, Elle and the TV channel Canal Plus.
Gisele Galante and Johnny Hallyday
Here is what she told me, listed under the various headings that were used in my book.
The Early Influences
I was never brought up by my mother. She used to work a lot and travel a lot, so I don’t have too many early memories of my mother. I don’t have too many early memories of my father either, I must say. The only memories I have are of my nannies. I was brought up here in Paris in this house, and I stayed here until about the age of twelve. Then my brother got very sick with Hodgkin’s disease. I was a healthy little girl, but just the same I had sore throats and colds, and my brother’s white cells were very low, and, because he would catch anything I had, I had to move from the house, to a small flat my father rented near-by. So from the age of twelve till the age of eighteen, I was extremely close to my father, and the situation was not easy for either of us. He had no social life, nothing. He gave everything up for me. Like a mother, he would wake up in the morning and get my breakfast ready and I would go to school. Then, at night, he would prepare my dinner.
He was my mother. He was a big influence. For all those years, I was not close to my mother because I did not have much time to see her. After I was eighteen, she thought it would be a good idea to come back to the house. My brother was much better, and now is totally fine. So I’ve lived here from the age of eighteen until now, which is thirty. I don’t know if I’m right, but I have a feeling my mother is doing all the things now that she was unable to do when I was younger because she was busy with her own work and with my brother. I feel she is trying to give me all the things she was unable to give me before, which is a little late.
Advantages and Disadvantages
As a journalist, for example, I know I’m not treated the way I should be, definitely not. I know that the men working as journalists for Paris-Match are paid much more. And they’re more respected. But to be a woman is sometimes an advantage. For example, they gave me an interview with Jacques Chaban-Delmas, a former prime minister of France, because he likes a pretty woman. And a lot of assignments they give me are assignments with men not women. I would say 70 or 80 per cent of people I interview are men. For instance, I did an interview with Kashoggi. If I had been a man, it would have been extremely difficult.
To be able to love someone and be loved, I would say that’s No 1. That’s maybe because I lacked that when I was a child, and so I’m looking for it. I’m looking for some kind of recognition in that way.
It is very difficult to separate sex from emotion. We have tried. The feminists maintain they can; but I don’t think you can, probably not. There is something kind of empty in their quest. For me, sex is love. For a man, it can also be conquest. I think, if a woman is fulfilled on every level by a man, why should she go elsewhere? Men do because the woman loses her appeal much faster than do men.
I don’t have too many women friends. Up till now, I feel much better with male friends. About 80 per cent of my friends are men. I’ve been trying to have more women friends, but I scare them. They see me as a rival, as a threat. I’ve had that experience a number of times, in my work and elsewhere. In my work, I don’t have any women friends at all. I could never live in an environment where there are only women or where there are more women than men. I could not.
When I was younger, I could only see the facade, and I would go out with an extremely handsome man. And recent boyfriends I have had, actually they were ugly, but they were very intellectual and obviously very charming and extremely bright, and now that’s the only appeal I find in men.
I would like to live without men, yes, I’d like to be totally independent of men, emotionally and financially. I’d like to be all by myself. On every level. But I realize I probably never will be. Probably I will always live with a man, but I would like to be able to be happy on my own. Without depending on anyone. I expand probably in the presence of men, which I don’t in the presence of women. My mother has always been extremely independent, never dependent, and she taught me quite a number of things. In her work, and in her public life, she has been very successful, obviously, but her private life is a total disaster. She has been married twice, the two marriages failed, she has tried to have a family, she did all she could to raise us, but I don’t think she did it in the proper way, and I see the result. She’s extremely powerful and extremely domineering.
I’m trying to struggle in the face of reality. I have a dream of marriage, of having a close family and working, of being able to combine all these things and doing it well. And the reality is that it’s very very difficult to combine all these things. It takes a lot of courage, and a lot of self-confidence, to be able to sustain a good marriage. I’m not against divorce, but I would hope marriage was a commitment for ever.
I think I would rather be a man. I wouldn’t have so many problems if I were a man. I used to have a boyfriend, and I was the one who was working at the time and he was putting me first and career second. I must say, I enjoyed the situation. I would come home to the apartment and he was the woman and I was the man.