There hasn’t been much buzz about Marthe Keller’s induction into France’s Legion of Honor. Or the induction of actresses Dominique Blanc and Anny Duperey. The selection of fellow 2012 Chevalier inductee Salma Hayek, however, has been a whole different matter.
In early 2003, the Mexican-born Hayek, 45, was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for her performance as Frida Kahlo in Julie Taymor’s Frida. Her other film credits include Desperado, From Dusk Til Dawn, After the Sunset, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and the animated hit Puss in Boots. She is now reportedly working on a biopic of Mexican superstar Maria Félix. But are Puss in Boots and an Oscar nod enough qualification for Legion of Honor "membership"?
Hayek’s inclusion in this year’s Legion of Honor roster (as a Chevalier, or Knight) has been criticized by some who have accused French president Nicolas Sarkozy of using the ceremony for political gain in an election year. Hayek’s father-in-law, PPR founder François Pinault, will also be inducted as a Grand Officer. Hence, Hayek is this year’s Legion of Honor Beauty; Pinault, the Legion of Honor Bosom Buddy Billionaire. Pinault is a close friend of Sarkozy, who, three years ago honored the judge who pronounced his divorce from Cecilia Attias.
Sarkozy isn’t the only French president to have bestowed the Legion of Honor for popularity’s sake. In 1998, Jacques Chirac honored the French soccer team after they won the World Cup.
Among those who have refused the Legion of Honor are Marie Curie, Pierre Curie, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus.