Jourdan in 1959
Louis Robert Gendre
19 June 1921
|Died||14 February 2015 (aged 93)|
Berthe Frédérique "Quique" Jourdan
(m. 1946; died 2014)
Louis Jourdan (born Louis Robert Gendre; 19 June 1921 - 14 February 2015) was a French film and television actor. He was known for his suave roles in several Hollywood films, including Alfred Hitchcock's The Paradine Case (1947), Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), Gigi (1958), The Best of Everything (1959), The V.I.P.s (1963) and Octopussy (1983). He played Dracula in the 1977 BBC television production Count Dracula.
Jourdan was born Louis Robert Gendre in Marseille, France, in 1921, one of three sons of Yvonne (née Jourdan) and Henry Gendre, a hotel owner. He was educated in France, Turkey, and the UK, and studied acting at the École Dramatique. While there, he began acting on the professional stage, where he was brought to the attention of director Marc Allégret, who hired him to work as an assistant camera operator on Entrée des Artistes (The Curtain Rises).
Jourdan was too young[dubious ] for army service and was hired by Marcel L'Herbier to appear in La Comédie du bonheur (1940) in Rome. He was making Untel Père et Fils in that city when Italy declared war on France. He returned to France, and appeared in Premier rendez-vous (1941) with Danielle Darrieux, shot in Paris. He spent a year on a work gang. Jourdan was ordered to make German propaganda films, which he refused to do, and fled to join his family in unoccupied France.
There he started making movies again, ten films in two years. They included several for Allegret: Parade en sept nuits (1941); L'Arlésienne (1942) with Raimu, The Beautiful Adventure (1942); Les Petites du quai aux fleurs (1944); Twilight (1944). He was in The Heart of a Nation (1943) with Raimu; La Vie de Bohème (1945).
His father was arrested by the Gestapo; months later he escaped, and joined the French Resistance, along with his family. "I was given work to do and I did it", said Jourdan later of his time in the resistance. "I worked on illegal leaflets, helping to print and distribute them." After the liberation of France in 1945, he returned to Paris with his childhood sweetheart, Berthe Frédérique (nicknamed "Quique").
Cited by author James McKay as the "epitome of the suave Continental", Jourdan was spotted in a French film by a talent scout working for David O. Selznick, who offered the actor a contract in March 1946.
His first American film was The Paradine Case (1947) starring Gregory Peck. The movie is a drama directed by Alfred Hitchcock, who did not want Jourdan cast as the valet in the film. He appeared in a theatre production of Ghosts in Los Angeles.
Jourdan frequently argued with Selznick, who put him on suspension a number of times for refusing roles.
Selznick announced Jourdan and Alida Valli for Rupert of Hentzau but the film was not made. Neither was Trilby which Selznick said Jourdan would appear in with Valli and Rossano Brazzi or If This Be My Heart with Valli and Robert Mitchum.
With Joan Fontaine, Jourdan starred in the Max Ophüls film Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948). David Thomson in 2010 observed how his performance as Stefan Brand altered as the character aged over the extended period of the film's narrative: "I notice how his way of talking has changed. The younger Stefan was boyish, eager and open. Ten years later, the man is filled with self-loathing and fake ironies." It was a "signature performance" from Jourdan, Thomson wrote in Have You Seen?, he was "handsome yet a touch empty; romantic yet not entirely there." John Houseman, the film's producer, "felt he lacked sex appeal, but that shortcoming serves very well as his defect of memory," a significant element of the film's plot. In Hollywood, Jourdan became friends with several stars who shared his love of the game of croquet.
Selznick announced him for The Frenchman and the Bobbysoxer a sequel to The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer but it was not made. Selznick sold his interest in Jourdan for one film to Warner Bros.
All Jourdan's Hollywood films had lost money. He decided to buy out his contract with Selznick for $50,000.
At 20th Century Fox, Jourdan played the lead in a remake of Bird of Paradise (1951). The studio kept him on to appear in Anne of the Indies (1951), directed by Jacques Tourneur. He was announced for the romantic male lead in the Fox remake of Les Miserables but ended up not appearing in the film.
He returned to the Great White Way for a short run in 1955, and also that year he made his American TV début as Inspector Beaumont in the TV series Paris Precinct. In 1956, he appeared in the film The Swan playing the role of "Dr Nicholas Agi" along with Grace Kelly and Sir Alec Guinness for MGM. This was Kelly's last film, and lost money at the box office. More popular was Julie (1956) a thriller where Jourdan tormented Doris Day.
He returned to France to play the male lead in The Bride Is Much Too Beautiful (1956) with Brigitte Bardot as the lead actress, and Escapade (1957). In Britain he appeared in a swashbuckler, Dangerous Exile (1957).
Jourdan appeared in his biggest hit to date playing the romantic lead alongside Leslie Caron and Maurice Chevalier in the film version of the novella by Colette, Gigi (1958). This film won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture. He enjoyed another hit with The Best of Everything (1959), an all star romance in the vein of Three Coins in the Fountain. He also appeared in a variety show on TV, An Evening with Louis Jourdan.
Jourdan was going to follow it in a remake of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in England for Terence Fisher. "It's a terrific change of pace for me," he said. However he did not appear in the final film, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll.
Jourdan co-starred with Frank Sinatra, Chevalier and Shirley MacLaine in the musical Can-Can (1960). He travelled to Italy to appear in a peplum, Amazons of Rome (1961). Then it was back to France to star in a version of The Count of Monte Cristo (1961), a massive hit in France. Disorder (1962) was an Italian-French comedy, Mathias Sandorf (1963) was based on a novel by Jules Verne.
For MGM, he made The V.I.P.s (1963), another all star melodrama, and a big hit.
Jourdan also sang in the Alan Jay Lerner/Barton Lane stage musical, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1965), at least during its out-of-town tryout at the Colonial Theatre in Boston. He was replaced as leading man by John Cullum before the show reached Broadway.
He supported Ann-Margret in Made in Paris (1966) for MGM, then returned to Europe: The Sultans (1967), To Commit a Murder (1967), Cervantes (1967). To Die in Paris (1968) was a US TV movie and A Flea in Her Ear (1968) a Hollywood financed farce.
There were more TV movies: Fear No Evil (1969), Run a Crooked Mile (1970), Ritual of Evil (1970), The Great American Beauty Contest (1973). In later years, Jourdan also appeared on television, including 1977's Count Dracula for the BBC and as a murderous chef in the 1978 Columbo episode "Murder Under Glass".
I take them so seriously that I participate in the original concept and the actual writing. After all, whatever an actor is doing, he's a salesman, so why not commercials? I must confess I love the theater best, though. I've never done a play I didn't like, but one often does movies just to keep functioning. They're less important to me than plays.
He played the role of French educator, historian and Baron, Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937), in The First Olympics: Athens 1896, a May 1984 NBC TV (2-part) mini-series about the 1896 Summer Olympics and the American team member/discus thrower from Baltimore, Robert Garrett (1875-1961). His last film role was eight years later in Year of the Comet (1992).
On 11 March 1946, Jourdan married Berthe Frédérique. The marriage produced one child, Louis Henry Jourdan, born on 6 October 1951. Louis Henry Jourdan died of a narcotics overdose at the age of 29 on 12 May 1981; his body was buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. Berthe Jourdan died in 2014.
After his retirement from acting in 1992 Jourdan lived in Los Angeles. In July 2010 he was made a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur, an honor that he received accompanied by friends, including Sidney Poitier and Kirk Douglas.
|1939||Le Corsaire (The Pirate)||Film never completed|
|1940||La Comédie du bonheur||Fédor||(Italy: Ecco la felicità) (England Comedy of Happiness)|
|1941||Her First Affair||Pierre Rougemont||(France: Premier rendez-vous)|
|Parade en sept nuits||Freddy Richard, le clown|
|The Beautiful Adventure||André d'Éguzon|
|1943||The Heart of a Nation||Christian||Uncredited|
|1944||Les Petites du quai aux fleurs||Francis|
|Félicie Nanteuil (US: Twilight)||Robert de Ligny|
|1945||La Vie de Boheme||Rodolphe / Rodolfo|
|1947||The Paradine Case||André Latour, Paradine's Valet|
|1948||Letter from an Unknown Woman||Stefan Brand|
|No Minor Vices||Octavio Quaglini|
|1949||Madame Bovary||Rodolphe Boulanger|
|1951||Bird of Paradise||André Laurence|
|Anne of the Indies||Captain Pierre François La Rochelle|
|1952||The Happy Time||Uncle Desmond Bonnard|
|1953||Paris Precinct||Insp. Beaumont||TV (15 episodes, 1953-1955)|
|Decameron Nights||Giovanni Boccaccio / Paganino / Giulio / Don Bertando|
|Rue de l'Estrapade||Henri Laurent|
|1954||Three Coins in the Fountain||Prince Dino di Cessi|
|1956||The Swan||Dr. Nicholas Agi|
|The Bride Is Much Too Beautiful||Michel|
|1957||Love in the Afternoon||Narrator||Uncredited|
|Dangerous Exile||Duke Philippe de Beauvais|
|1958||Gigi||Gaston Lachaille||Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy|
2nd Place - Golden Laurel Award for Top Male Musical Performance
|1959||The Best of Everything||David Savage|
|1961||Le Vergini di Roma||Drusco|
|The Count of Monte Cristo||Edmond Dantes|
|1963||Mathias Sandorf||Le comte Mathias Sandorf|
|Irma la Douce||Narrator||Uncredited|
|The V.I.P.s||Marc Champselle|
|1966||Made in Paris||Marc Fontaine|
|1967||To Commit a Murder||Charles Beaulieu||aka Peau d'espion|
|1968||To Die in Paris||Colonel Bertine Westrex||TV|
|A Flea in Her Ear||Henri Tournel|
|1969||Fear No Evil||David Sorell||TV|
|Run a Crooked Mile||Richard Stuart||TV|
|1970||Ritual of Evil||David Sorell||TV|
|1973||The Great American Beauty Contest||Ralph Dupree||TV|
|1975||Piange Il Telefono||Alberto Landi|
|1975||The Count of Monte Cristo||De Villefort||TV|
|1977||The Man in the Iron Mask||D'Artagnan||TV|
|Silver Bears||Prince di Siracusa|
|The More It Goes, the Less It Goes||Paul Tango|
|Count Dracula||Count Dracula||TV|
|1978||Columbo||Paul Gerard||TV episode "Murder Under Glass"|
|1979||The French Atlantic Affair||Captain Charles Girodt||TV|
|1980||Charlie's Angels||Dr. Redmond||TV episode "Nips and Tucks"|
|1980||Vega$||Nicholas Rambeau||TV episode "The Lido Girls"|
|1981||Vega$||Nicholas Rambeau||TV episode "French Twist"|
|1982||Romance Theatre: Gamble on Love||Host||TV|
|Romance Theatre: Bayou Romance||Host||TV; uncredited|
|Swamp Thing||Dr. Anton Arcane|
|Double Deal||Peter Sterling|
|1984||Cover Up||George LeMare||TV|
|1984||The First Olympics: Athens, 1896||Pierre de Coubertin||TV|
|1986||Beverly Hills Madam||Douglas Corbin||TV|
|Romance Theatre: Escape to Love||Host||TV|
|1987||Grand Larceny||Charles Grand|
|1989||The Return of Swamp Thing||Dr. Anton Arcane|
|1992||Year of the Comet||Philippe|