Menjou in A Star Is Born (1937)
Adolphe Jean Menjou
February 18, 1890
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||October 29, 1963 (aged 73)|
|Resting place||Hollywood Forever Cemetery|
Katherine Conn Tinsley
(m. 1920; div. 1927)
(m. 1928; div. 1934)
Verree Teasdale (m. 1934; his death)
Adolphe Jean Menjou (February 18, 1890 - October 29, 1963) was an American actor. His career spanned both silent films and talkies. He appeared in such films as Charlie Chaplin's A Woman of Paris, where he played the lead role; Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory with Kirk Douglas; Ernst Lubitsch's The Marriage Circle; The Sheik with Rudolph Valentino; Morocco with Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper; and A Star Is Born with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, and was nominated for an Academy Award for The Front Page in 1931.
Menjou was born on February 18, 1890, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to a French father, Albert Menjou (1858–1917), and an Irish mother from Galway, Nora (née Joyce 1869–1953). His brother, Henry Arthur Menjou (1891–1956), was a year younger. He was raised Catholic, attended the Culver Military Academy, and graduated from Cornell University with a degree in engineering. Attracted to the vaudeville stage, he made his movie debut in 1916 in The Blue Envelope Mystery. During World War I, he served as a captain in the United States Army Ambulance Service, for which he trained in Pennsylvania before going overseas.
After returning from the war, Menjou became a star in such films as The Sheik and The Three Musketeers. When he starred in 1923's A Woman of Paris, he solidified the image of a well-dressed man-about-town, and was voted Best Dressed Man in America nine times. In 1929, he attended the preview of Maurice Chevalier's first Hollywood film Innocents of Paris, and personally reassured Chevalier that he would enjoy a great future, despite the mediocre screenplay. His own career stalled with the coming of talkies, but in 1930, he starred in Morocco, with Marlene Dietrich. He was nominated for an Academy Award for The Front Page (1931).
Menjou was a staunch Republican who equated the Democratic Party with socialism. He supported the Hoover administration's policies during the Great Depression. Menjou told a friend that he feared that if a Democrat won the White House, they "would raise taxes [and] destroy the value of the dollar," depriving Menjou of a good portion of his wealth. He took precautions against this threat: "I've got gold stashed in safety deposit boxes all over town... They'll never get an ounce from me." In the 1944 presidential election, he joined other celebrity Republicans at a rally in the Los Angeles Coliseum, organized by studio executive David O. Selznick, to support the Dewey-Bricker ticket and Governor Earl Warren of California, who would be Dewey's running mate in 1948. The gathering drew 93,000, with Cecil B. DeMille as the master of ceremonies and short speeches by Hedda Hopper and Walt Disney. Despite the rally's large turnout, most Hollywood celebrities who took public positions supported the Roosevelt-Truman ticket.
In 1947, Menjou cooperated with the House Committee on Un-American Activities saying that Hollywood "is one of the main centers of Communist activity in America". He added: "it is the desire and wish of the masters of Moscow to use this medium for their purposes" which is "the overthrow of the American government". Menjou was a leading member of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a group formed to oppose communist influence in Hollywood, whose other members included John Wayne, Barbara Stanwyck (with whom Menjou costarred in Forbidden in 1932 and Golden Boy in 1939) and her husband, actor Robert Taylor.
Because of his political leanings, Menjou came into conflict with actress Katharine Hepburn, with whom he appeared in Morning Glory, Stage Door, and State of the Union (also starring Spencer Tracy). Hepburn was strongly opposed to the HUAC hearings, and their clashes were reportedly instant and mutually cutting. During a government deposition, Menjou said, "Scratch a do-gooder, like Hepburn, and they'll yell, 'Pravda'." To this, Hepburn called Menjou "wisecracking, witty--a flag-waving super-patriot who invested his American dollars in Canadian bonds and had a thing about Communists." In his book Kate, Hepburn biographer William Mann said that during the filming of State of the Union, she and Menjou spoke to each other only while acting.
In 1955, Menjou played Dr. Elliott Harcourt in "Barrier of Silence", episode 19 of the first season of the television series Science Fiction Theatre. He guest-starred as Fitch, with Orson Bean and Sue Randall as John and Ellen Monroe, in a 1961 episode, "The Secret Life of James Thurber", based on the works of American humorist James Thurber, in the CBS anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson. He also appeared in the Thanksgiving episode of NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford, which aired on November 22, 1956. His final film role was that of the town curmudgeon in Disney's Pollyanna (1960).
Menjou was married to Verree Teasdale from 1934 until his death on October 29, 1963; they had one adopted son. He previously married Kathryn Carver in 1928; they divorced in 1934. A prior marriage to Kathryn Conn Tinsley also ended in divorce.
In 1948, Menjou published his autobiography, It Took Nine Tailors.
Because of Menjou's public support of HUAC, the propaganda of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) often depicted their western opponents with Menjou-style moustaches, and it was considered a statement of political opposition to trim one's moustache that way. The style became a symbol for the resourceful criminal, and in Germany is still called Menjou-Bärtchen (Menjou beardlet). In German film and theatre, dubious men, opportunists, corrupt politicians, fraudulent persuaders, marriage impostors and other "slick" criminals often wear Menjou-Bärtchen. In real life, the style is often associated with opportunism.
Salvador Dalí admired Adolphe Menjou. He declared "la moustache d'Adolphe Menjou est surréaliste" and began offering fake mustaches from a silver cigarette case to other people with the words "Moustache? Moustache?" Moustache?"
|1946||Screen Guild Players||Experiment Perilous|
|1946||This Is Hollywood||The Bachelor's Daughters|
He had been suffering from jaundice for some time. Death came at his home in Beverly Hills. With him were his third wife, the former Veree Teasdale, ...