Actress Bernadette Lafont, face of French New Wave, dies at 74

Veteran actress Bernadette Lafont, the face of France's New Wave cinema in the 1950s and the star of some 120 films, died Thursday aged 74.

Lafont, who made her debut in Francois Truffaut's 1957 "Les Mistons," worked with other famed French directors including Claude Chabrol, Louis Malle, Nelly Kaplan and Jean Eustache during a career that spanned more than 50 years.

She won a Cesar, the French equivalent of the US Academy Award, for her role in Claude Miller's 1985 film "L'Effrontee" and received an Honourary Cesar in 2003.

A self-trained actress known for her direct and natural style, Lafont continued to work until recently, including with an appearance in Julie Delpy's 2011 film "Le Skylab."

She had been hospitalised in her home town of Nimes on Monday after falling ill and died early Thursday, the hospital said in a statement.

She also appeared in several French films for television and in many plays.

Married to Hungarian sculptor-turned-director Diourka Medveczky, she had three children including actress Pauline Lafont, who died in a hiking accident in 1988 aged 25.