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Salma Hayek Legion of Honor Induction Raises Eyebrows

Salma Hayek Mexican actress Legion of Honor controversySalma Hayek: Mexican actress in Legion of Honor controversy.

Salma Hayek: Legion of Honor controversy

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. Hardly a surprise, since the only film people that matter in the U.S. (or English-language) media are those with Hollywood careers. And that takes us to another 2012 Chevalier inductee, Mexican actress Salma Hayek, 45, whose honor has received quite a bit more U.S. media play.

But why?

Salma Hayek movies

For starters, Salma Hayek is a Hollywood star. Below are three of her notable – whether critically or commercially – American films.

  • Frida (2002), which earned her a Best Actress Academy Award nomination. (She lost to Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf in Stephen Daldry's The Hours.)
    Dir.: Julie Taymor.
    Cast: Salma Hayek (as Frida Kahlo). Alfred Molina (as Diego Rivera). Edward Norton (as Nelson Rockefeller). Diego Luna. Antonio Banderas (as David Alfaro Siqueiros). Mia Maestro. Valeria Golino. Geoffrey Rush (as Leon Trotsky). Roger Rees.
  • Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003).
    Dir.: Robert Rodriguez.
    Cast: Antonio Banderas. Salma Hayek. Eva Mendes. Johnny Depp. Enrique Iglesias. Marco Leonardi. Mickey Rourke. Danny Trejo. Cheech Marin. Pedro Armendáriz Jr. Rubén Blades. Willem Dafoe. Julio Oscar Mechoso. Miguel Couturier.
  • Grown Ups (2010).
    Dir.: Dennis Dugan.
    Cast: Adam Sandler. Kevin James. David Spade. Maria Bello. Salma Hayek. Rob Schneider. Chris Rock. Maya Rudolph. Joyce Van Patten. Steve Buscemi.

Hayek's other film credits include more Hollywood or semi-Hollywood productions such as Desperado, From Dusk Til Dawn, After the Sunset, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and the animated hit Puss in Boots. Besides, she is now reportedly working on a biopic of Mexican cinema superstar María Félix (Enamorada, Doña Diabla).

Now, are Puss in Boots and one Best Actress Oscar nod enough to warrant Legion of Honor “membership”?

Chevalier Salma

Salma Hayek's inclusion in this year's Legion of Honor roster has been criticized by those asserting that French president Nicolas Sarkozy is using the ceremony for political gain in an election year. Hayek's father-in-law, François Pinault, the founder of PPR (the French owner of Gucci and Puma, among other businesses), will also be inducted as a Grand Officer.

Hence, Hayek will be this year's Legion of Honor Beauty; Pinault, the Legion of Honor Bosom Buddy Billionaire. After all, the business magnate is a close friend of Sarkozy – who, three years ago, legion-honored the judge who pronounced his divorce from his then wife, (now known as) Cécilia Attias.

But in all fairness, Nicolas Sarkozy is hardly the only French president to have bestowed the Legion of Honor honor for the sake of his own popularity and/or private/political interests. For instance, in a calculated populist move, in 1998 Jacques Chirac decided to honor the French soccer team after their winning the World Cup.

UNICEF ambassador, refuseniks

Those who believe Hayek deserves the honor emphasize her charity work, her support for women victims of domestic violence, and the fact that she has been a UNICEF ambassador since 2008.

And finally … Among those whom honoree Salma Hayek will not be joining in the Légion d'Honneur Hall of Fame are Marie Curie, Pierre Curie, Claude Monet, George Sand, Guy de Maupassant, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus. These were some of the would-be inductees who refused to accept the French government's Honor.

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