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Classic French Actor Louis Jourdan Dies At Age 93

Louis Jourdan (born Louis Robert Gendre, 19th June 1921 – 14th February 2015) was a French film and television actor. He was known for his suave roles in several Hollywood films, including 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)

Louis Jourdan a French actor famous for American film and television appearances in the Oscar-winning musical GIGI, MADAME BOVARY, CAN-CAN, and THE FIRST OLYMPICS: ATHENS, 1896, as well as Broadway appearances in shows such as ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER, has died. The Hollywood Walk of Fame winner was 93.

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Louis Jourdan was a French film and television actor. He was educated in France, Turkey, and Britain, and studied acting at the École Dramatique. While studying, he began acting on the professional stage, where he was brought to the attention of director Marc Allegret, who hired him to work as an assistant camera operator on Entrée des Artistes (The Curtain Rises).

Allegret then cast Jourdan in what should have been his first movie, Le Corsaire in 1939 opposite Charles Boyer. Filming was interrupted by the Second World War and was never resumed.

Jourdan was too young for army service and was hired by Julien Duvivier along with his brother Pierre to appear in Untel Père et Fils in Rome. This was interrupted by the declaration of war between France and Italy; he returned to France, made some films and 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. His father was arrested by the Gestapo; months later he escaped, and joined the French underground. “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, Berte Frederique (“Quique”).

Leslie Caron and Louis Jourdan

Leslie Caron and Louis Jourdan

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.

His first American film was The Paradine Case (1947) starring Gregory Peck. A drama directed by Alfred Hitchcock, who did not want Jourdan cast as the valet in the film, Jourdan frequently argued with Selznick, who put him on suspension a number of times for refusing roles.

With Joan Fontaine, Jourdan starred in 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 “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.

Classic French Actor Louis Jourdan Dies At Age 93.

 

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