CHARLES BOYER Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Charles Boyer                                                                                   
Born: 28 August 1899 Figeac, France                                                                   
Died: 26 August 1978 Phoenix, Arizona, USA                                                           
Charles Boyer (August 28, 1899 – August 26, 1978) was a four-time Academy Award-nominated           
French actor who starred in several classic Hollywood films. His most famous                         
role was in the 1944 film Gaslight. After moving to the U.S., he became an                           
American citizen.                                                                                     
Born in Figeac, France, to Maurice and Louise Boyer - was just a shy small-town                       
boy who discovered the movies and theater at the age of eleven. Working as a                         
hospital orderly during World War I, Charles Boyer started to come out of                             
himself performing comic sketches for the soldiers there. Nevertheless Boyer                         
acceded to his mother's request that he graduate from the Sorbonne (earned a                         
degree in philosophy) before studying acting at the Paris Conservatory. In the                       
1920s he was not only the popular romantic leading man on stage but was employed                     
in silent films.                                                                                     
MGM signed him to a contract, and nothing much came of his first Hollywood stay                       
from 1929-31. At first Boyer did film roles only for the money, but follow-up                         
roles were unsatisfying.                                                                             
His first big break was a very small part of a chauffeur to Jean Harlow in Red-Headed                 
Woman, 1932. He settled in the Hollywood in 1934, after starring in a French                         
adaptation of Liliom directed by Fritz Lang. Later the same year his films began                     
to win public favor, though the psychiatric drama Private Worlds (1935) was                           
not well received, either by critics or audiences. He loved life in the                               
United States, and went on to play opposite the alluring actresses of the 30's                       
and 40's.                                                                                             
During this period, Boyer had continued making European films, and with                               
Mayerling in 1936 it made him an international star. The offscreen Boyer was                         
bookish and private, far removed from the Hollywood high life. But onscreen he                       
made women swoon as he romanced Marlene Dietrich in The Garden of Allah (1936),                       
Greta Garbo in Conquest (1937), and Irene Dunne in Love Affair (1939). He                             
became a major star in The Garden of Allah, which was his first film in                               
In 1938, he landed his famous role, as Pepe le Moko, the thief on the run, in                         
Algiers an English-language remake of the hit French film Pepe le Moko with Jean                     
Gabin. Although he never invited costar Hedy Lamarr to "Come with me to the                           
Casbah", the line would stick with him, thanks to generations of impressionists.                     
Boyer's role as Pepe Le Moko was already world famous when animator Chuck Jones                       
based the character of Pepe le Pew, the romantic skunk introduced in 1945's Odor-able                 
Kitty, on Boyer and his most well-known performance.                                                 
He played in three classics of unrequited love with some of greatest leading                         
ladies : All This, and Heaven Too (1940), opposite Bette Davis, Hold Back the                         
Dawn (1941), opposite Olivia de Havilland, and Back Street (1941), opposite                           
Margaret Sullavan. Charles was made a naturalized citizen of the United                               
States in 1942.                                                                                       
In contrast to his glamorous image, Boyer began losing his hair early, had a                         
pronounced paunch, and was noticeably shorter than leading ladies like Ingrid                         
Bergman. When Bette Davis first saw him on the set of All This and Heaven Too,                       
she did not recognize him and tried to have him removed from the set.                                 
In 1943, he was awarded an Honorary Oscar Certificate for "progressive cultural                       
achievement" in establishing the French Research Foundation in Los Angeles as a                       
source of reference (certificate). He never won an Oscar for acting, though he                       
was nominated four times - for Conquest (1937), Algiers (1938), Gaslight (1944)                       
and Fanny (1961).                                                                                     
Charles Boyer is best known for his role in the 1944 film Gaslight in which he                       
tried to convince Ingrid Bergman's character that she was going insane. He                           
became famous for his declarations of love in movies with Dietrich, Garbo or                         
Bergman. And in the 1940s he was the voice of Capt. Daniel Gregg in Lux                               
Radio Theater's presentation of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.                                             
After World War II, he continued to appear on films, TV, Broadway stage, and the                     
London stage. In 1948, Charles Boyer was made a chevalier of the French Legion                       
of Honor.                                                                                             
When another film with Bergman, Arch of Triumph (1948), failed at the box office,                     
he started looking for character parts. He also moved into television as one of                       
the pioneering producers and stars of Four Star Theatre; Four Star Productions                       
would make him and partners David Niven and Dick Powell rich. In the 1950s                           
he was a guest star on I Love Lucy. Charles was nominated for the Golden Globe                       
for Best Actor in the 1952 film The Happy Time, and for the Emmy for Best                             
Continuing Performance by an Actor in a Dramatic Series for his work in Four                         
Star Playhouse (1952-1956).                                                                           
In 1950, he appeared on the Broadway stage in one of his most notable roles,                         
that of Don Juan, in a dramatic reading of the third act of George Bernard Shaw's                     
Man and Superman. This is the act popularly known as Don Juan in Hell. In 1952,                       
he won Broadway's 1951 Special Tony Award for Don Juan in Hell. It was directed                       
by actor Charles Laughton. Laughton co-starred as the Devil, with Cedric                             
Hardwicke as the statue of the military commander slain by Don Juan, and Agnes                       
Moorehead as Dona Anna, the commander's daughter, one of Juan's former conquests.                     
The production was a critical success, and was subsequently recorded complete by                     
Columbia Masterworks, one of the first complete recordings of a non-musical                           
stage production ever made. As of 2006, however, it has never been released on                       
CD. He was also nominated for Tony Award as Best Actor (Dramatic) for his                             
performance in the 1963 Broadway production of Lord Pengo.                                           
Onscreen, he continued to shine with older roles in Fanny (1961), Barefoot in                         
the Park (1967) with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, and Stavisky (1974), the                         
latter winning him the New York Film Critics Circle Award.                                           
Another successful TV program was The Rogues with David Niven and Gig Young; The                     
series only lasted through the 1964-65 season but remains fondly remembered for                       
its sophistication and humor by many who saw it.                                                     
Boyer's career lasted longer than other romantic male actor of his era, earning                       
him the title "the last of the cinema's great lovers." He recorded a very                             
dark album called Where Does Love Go? in 1966. The album consisted of famous                         
love songs sung (or rather talked) with Charles Boyer's distinctive deep voice                       
and French accent. The record was reportedly Elvis Presley's favorite album for                       
the last 11 years of his life, the one he most listened to.                                           
His last major film role was that of the High Lama in a poorly received musical                       
version of Lost Horizon (1973), although he also had a notable part as a corrupt                     
city official in the 1969 film version of The Madwoman of Chaillot, featuring                         
Katharine Hepburn. His long, distinguished career included the motion pictures                       
Around the World in 80 Days (1956), How to Steal a Million (1966), Is Paris                           
Burning? (1966), and, his final film, A Matter of Time (1976), with Ingrid                           
Bergman and Liza Minnelli.                                                                           
For his contribution to the motion picture and television industries, Charles                         
Boyer has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6300 Hollywood Blvd.