Six degrees

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 August, 2011, 12:00am

Actor Gerard Depardieu (below) added to the sagging reputation of middle-aged Frenchmen travelling abroad by relieving himself on a CityJet flight from Paris to Dublin earlier this month. Whether the one-time heartthrob, now 62, had been drinking or suffers prostate problems has been a subject of debate. The incident is out of character for the man decorated with the Legion of Honour, France's highest civil award and established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte ...

Napoleon became the emperor of France in 1804. The Napoleonic wars didn't do much for the French image overseas, as much of Europe fell under his power after a series of unexpected military victories. Spain and Russia proved more difficult to conquer, weakening his army before the fateful 1815 Battle of Waterloo, when it fell to allied forces led by the Duke of Wellington. The battle was referred to in a hit song by Abba ...

Sweden's 1970s pop pioneers used the battle as an unlikely metaphor for a woman who gives in and falls in love with a man. Waterloo, the group's first international No 1 hit, was written as Sweden's entry to the 1974 Eurovision song contest. While many winners soon faded from public consciousness (Teach-In, anyone?), Abba became the contest's biggest-ever success. Only one other entrant can claim to have come close: 1988 winner Celine Dion ...

The Canadian diva didn't let the small matter of not actually being European (well, she is French-Canadian) stop her using the contest to win her break into show business, by representing Switzerland. Most famous for My Heart Will Go On, the theme song to epic disaster flick Titanic, Dion last year gave birth to twins by husband and manager Rene Angelil. She named one of the boys Nelson, after Nelson Mandela ...

When the Nobel Peace Prize winner emerged as South Africa's leader after serving 27 years in jail, the biggest question for many was how well he could govern. He answered it with a dignified rule that was the subject of a book, which focused on his relationship with Francois Pienaar, captain of the Proteas, the all-white national rugby team that won the World Cup in 1995. It was turned into a film, Invictus, in which Mandela was played by Morgan Freeman ...

The veteran actor was nominated for a Golden Globe last year for his role in the film, his fifth nomination since his first in 1990, when he won best actor in a comedy/musical for Driving Miss Daisy. He was handed the award by the actor who went on to win the Golden Globe in the same category a year later, for the romantic comedy Green Card - the-then bladder-unchallenged Gerard Depardieu.


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