The Artist’s Jean Dujardin thanks Hampstead woman in Oscar speech

Millions of film fans around the world would have been baffled when Oscar winner Jean Dujardin from movie The Artist mentioned a mysterious Melissa in his acceptance speech.

Everyone that is except for the Hampstead granddaughter of “The King of Hollywood”.

The first Frenchman to ever win the best actor award thanked silent film star Douglas Fairbanks Snr and then said “Yes Melissa your grandfather’s spirit and joie de vivre inspired me for this role”.

In her flat in South Hill Park, Melissa Fairbanks, 64, was woken up by the calls from thrilled relatives in America with the news.

She had sent the French actor a letter saying how much his performance had reminded her of her grandfather, with his winning smile and boundless energy.

But her grandfather’s career, like that of Valentin in The Artist, tailed off rapidly with the advent of sound in films.

Although he died seven years before she was born, the 64-year-old homeopath said she has always felt a strong connection with her grandfather, who hosted the inaugural Oscars ceremony in 1929.

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“It was a lovely bridge between those days gone by to the present,” she said. “I live quite an ordinary life and I don’t think about my past that much, but I do have this love of my grandfather that every grandchild must have.

“It was just so sweet how he (Dujardin) answered my letter. It was just so touching.”