Valérie Quennessen (3 December 1957 – 19 March 1989) was a French theatre and film actress.
Valérie Quennessen was born in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris and dedicated much of her childhood to pursuing her dream of becoming an acrobat. She quickly reached a level of competence and received an award for her expertise at the age of ten.
By her teens, she had given up acrobatics and enrolled in acting classes, not because she particularly wanted to get into show business, but to help her overcome social anxiety. She found that she not only overcame her shyness via acting, but she also enjoyed performing.
She studied drama first briefly at the École nationale supérieure des arts et techniques du théâtre, then at the Conservatoire National d’Art Dramatique, in Paris, from 1976 to 1979, and appeared in several theater productions, notably Chers Zoiseaux, by Jean Anouilh, which premiered in 1976, and Pirandello’s Nuova colonia (1977).
She made her first film appearances in a pair of 1976 French films: Le Petit Marcel and Le Plein de super. Although she would continue to appear in the occasional French film and television show, in 1979 she landed one of the main roles in the American film French Postcards (Willard Huyck), working alongside the yet-to-be famous Miles Chapin, Debra Winger and Mandy Patinkin.
She followed up that film by playing Princess Yasimina in John Milius’s 1982 film Conan the Barbarian with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the title role.
It would be her next film, Randal Kleiser’s Summer Lovers, that was the peak of her career for American audiences. This story of a love triangle on the Greek island of Santorini also starred Peter Gallagher and Daryl Hannah.
During the filming of the movie, in which she played Lina, an archaeologist, Valérie is said to have discovered several pieces of pottery at the Akrotiri site that were more than 3,500 years old.
Shortly after Summer Lovers, Valérie Quennessen appeared in the short We Cannes, filmed during the 1982 film festival by François Manceaux, then gradually retired from acting, choosing to concentrate on raising her family.
She and Francois Manceaux had two children, Antoine and Elsa. On March 19, 1989 she died in a car accident on the A13 highway at the age of 31.