After Jim Morrison married Patricia Kennealy in the Wiccan wedding ceremony he left for France. In most biographies it’s mentioned only in passing that Morrison went to Europe with Leon Barnard and visited Spain and Morocco, but they miss the most intriguing aspect of that visit, that Morrison visited the set of Jacques Demy’s film “Peau D’Ane.”
This may have been a trip meant to be carefree and packing in experience. Looming ahead of Morrison in August of 1970 was the obscenity trial in Miami stemming from the March 1, 1969 performance at the Dinner Key Auditorium. If you accept that Morrison and Kennealy married on the 21st, that was a Sunday. Morrison and Doors publicist Leon Barnard probably arrived in New York on Friday the 19th to deliver the tapes of “Absolutely Live” to the Elektra offices, with their European vacation already planned but with maybe a few days to kill until the flight to Paris.
Perhaps Morrison had planned to call on Kennealy during the stopover or perhaps the solstice wedding was already planned (Kennealy has said they had a rather romantic correspondence going), or perhaps it happened a little more spontaneously. Morrison and Kennealy spent Saturday together and in a rush of romance Morrison proposed, bought the matching Claddagh wedding rings, and Kennealy got everything together for the next day.
After the ceremony, Morrison fell ill that night and through Monday, either because of an already developing illness, or as Kennealy asserts, from the energies released in the intense ceremony. Morrison had recuperated by Tuesday (June 23) and would have rejoined Barnard for the flight to France, likely arriving in Paris on the morning of the 24th. Although the clip that captures Morrison on the set of “Peau D’ Ane” isn’t dated, it’s acknowledged Morrison and Alain Ronay were on the set in late June, and that would favor the time line above.
In Agnes Varda’s documentary “L’Univers de Jacques Demy” (she was married to Demy from 1962 until his death in 1990), Morrison is seen visiting the set of Demy’s fairy tale “Peau d‘Ane,“ walking the grounds with Alain Ronay. He signs an autograph for the son of actress Delphine Seyrig. While visiting the set it is probable Morrison met Catherine Deneuve, whom Demy used in many of his films. More interestingly for Morrison, the former UCLA film student and aspiring filmmaker, he may have also met French director Francois Truffaut, one of the directors credited with starting the French New Wave of cinema in the late ’50s and early ’60s.
Demy was inspired by the fantasy and fabulist possibilities presented by film, as well as imagery from iconic Hollywood films. “Peau D’Ane” represents the fairy tale aspect Demy was interested in. The film is about a woman, Catherine Deneuve, who with the help of a fairy godmother disguises herself so she doesn‘t have to marry a man she doesn‘t love. “Peau D’Ane” was released in December 1970.
Originally published June 22, 2015.