TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (11)
|Also Known As:||Died:||August 26, 1978|
|Born:||August 28, 1899||Cause of Death:||suicide from overdose of barbituates|
|Birth Place:||France||Profession:||Cast ... actor TV producer TV director|
With his dark good looks and resonant, deeply accented murmur, Charles Boyer personified European romance in his native France and Hollywood for over four decades in such films as "Algiers" (1938), "All This, And Heaven Too" (1941) and "Gaslight" (1944). Though a studious, retiring figure off-screen, Boyer left female moviegoers swooning in the 1930s and 1940s, earning him four Oscar nominations as dashing, boundlessly erotic men whose lives, spent either in pursuit of crime, fortune or royalty, made them unavailable to the women who fell hopelessly in love with him. He stepped gracefully into character roles in the 1950s, scoring a triumph on Broadway with "Don Juan in Hell" (1951) and moving into production as a co-owner of the successful television company Four Star Pictures. He remained active as a symbol of old Hollywood courtliness throughout the 1960s, earning a final Oscar nod for "Fanny" (1961) before retiring to care for his wife in the late 1970s. Her death in 1978 spurred the grief-stricken actor to take his own life that same year, forever enmeshing his life with his screen image as the tragic lover whose tremendous heart was his greatest burden.
Born August 28, 1899 in the Midi-Pyrenees town of Figeac, France, Charles Boyer was the only child of merchant Louis Boyer and his wife, Louise, an amateur singer. Boyer's father died when he was 10 years old, leading him to find solace in both theater and films. He soon developed a passion for acting, and gained his first experience performing sketches at a hospital for soldiers wounded during World War I. The arrival of a French film company in Figeac gave Boyer his first screen role as a bit player in a crowd scene, and he enlisted the film's lead to convince his mother to allow him to study acting at the Sorbonne. Despite her reservations, she granted his wish, and Boyer soon forged relationships with the Parisian theater community while pursuing his education. In 1920, he was recommended to a theater director by friends as a replacement for an ailing leading man; Boyer's uncanny ability to commit large passages of dialogue to memory scored him the job, and after completing his studies, began his career as a star of the Paris stage. He soon segued to feature films, where he established himself as a romantic leading man.
Though fluent in several languages, Boyer spoke no English, which made MGM's offer of a Hollywood contract in 1929 something of an anomaly. The extraordinary salary offered by the studio helped convince him to come to America, where he was cast in foreign-language versions of MGM features for the European market while learning English. He eventually became proficient enough to play seductive continentals in "Red-Headed Woman" (1932) opposite Jean Harlow, and "Caravan" (1934) with Loretta Young. Fellow French expatriate Claudette Colbert provided his big break in Hollywood by requesting him as her leading man in "Private Worlds" (1935). Female moviegoers fell for his deep, accented voice and dark eyes, both of which helped mint him as the latest matinee idol, giving Errol Flynn and Clark Gable a run for their money. His screen persona stood in direct contrast to his life off-camera, which was spent in pursuit of literature and a quiet life with his wife, actress Pat Paterson.
On the big screen, Boyer romanced many of the screen's most celebrated leading ladies throughout the 1930s, including Marlene Dietrich in his first Technicolor film, "The Garden of Allah" (1936) and Greta Garbo in "Conquest" (1937), which earned him his first Oscar nomination. His most enduring film role came the following year as the roguish thief Pepe le Moko in "Algiers" (1938), which brought a second Oscar nod. For decades, he was credited with uttering the line "Come with me to the Casbah" to his equally exotic co-star Hedy Lamarr, though no such dialogue appeared in the film. Nevertheless, dozens of comics used the line in their overripe impersonations of the actor, as did Pepe Le Pew, the amorous skunk in Warner Bros.' "Looney Tunes" cartoons, whose entire personality was borrowed from Boyer.
With the outbreak of World War II, the 40-year-old Boyer joined the French Army in hopes of aiding his countrymen of ridding their land of the Nazi menace. His stint in the military was short-lived, allegedly due to studio intervention, but he remained involved with the Free French Resistance throughout the European element of the war. Upon his return stateside, he enjoyed an exceptionally successful run of features in the early 1940s, playing the object of unrequited love for Bette Davis in "All This, And Heaven Too" (1940), as well as Olivia de Havilland and Paulette Goddard in "Hold Back the Dawn" (1941). By this time, however, his onscreen charisma required considerable help by the makeup and wardrobe department: Boyer had begun to lose his hair, and developed a considerable paunch that, along with his short stature, frequently surprised his leading ladies expecting to ignite onscreen sparks with the ultimate continental lover.
In 1943, he received an Honorary Oscar Certificate for establishing the French Research Foundation, which he had founded in the late '30s as a research center for Hollywood productions to present truer representations of French culture on screen. The following year, he enjoyed one of his best roles as a scheming husband who conspired to drive his wife (Ingrid Bergman) mad in order to collect her riches in "Gaslight" (1944), which brought him a third Oscar nomination. Privately, Boyer believed that his days as a leading man were numbered, and after the failure of Lewis Milestone's epic "Arch of Triumph" (1948), also with Bergman, he shifted his focus to supporting roles and theater while developing a second career in production.
Boyer won a special Tony Award in 1952 for a dramatic reading of George Bernard Shaw's "Don Juan in Hell," which featured director Charles Laughton, Agnes Moorhead and Sir Cedric Hardwicke. That same year, he partnered with Dick Powell, David Niven and Ida Lupino to form Four Star Television, a production company that would oversee such popular programs as "Wanted Dead or Alive" (CBS, 1958-1961), "The Rifleman" (ABC, 1958-1963), "Honey West" (ABC, 1965-66) and "The Big Valley" (ABC, 1965-69). The four owners initially appeared together as part of the rotating cast of an anthology series called "Four Star Playhouse" (CBS, 1952-1956), and Boyer and Niven later co-starred with Gig Young as benevolent con men in "The Rogues" (NBC, 1964-65). The success of these and other shows helped to make Boyer a wealthy man in his final years, though the period was sorely tempered by the death of his only son, Michael, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1964.
Boyer continued to make appearances in features and on stage throughout the 1960s and 1970s, frequently as aging, philosophical roués in "Fanny" (1961), which earned him a fourth Oscar nomination, "How to Steal a Million" (1966) with Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole, and "Barefoot in the Park" (1967) as Jane Fonda's charming but still amorous landlord. His appearances slowed considerably in the 1970s, though he was one of the few performers to emerge from the debacle that was the 1973 remake of "Lost Horizon," for which he played the High Lama, with his dignity intact. The following year, he won a special tribute from the jury of the 1974 Cannes Film Festival for his turn as a friendly aristocrat opposite Jean-Paul Belmondo's embezzler in Alain Resnais' "Stavisky" (1974). It would be his final appearance in a French film. Boyer's last screen project was "A Matter of Time" (1976), an offbeat musical fantasy by Vincente Minnelli that reunited him with Ingrid Bergman. His wife, Pat, was diagnosed with cancer the following year, and Boyer devoted himself to her care. She succumbed to the illness on Aug. 23, 1978, and after putting his affairs in order, Boyer committed suicide two days later by an overdose of barbiturates.
By Paul Gaita
Holz ( 2007-01-22 )
Source: TCM Cartoon Alley
Reported to be the inspiration for Mel Blanc's voice characterization of Pepe' Le Pew in the Warner Brothers Cartoons.
albatros1 ( 2007-10-03 )
Source: Wikipedia The Internet Encyclopedia
Charles Boyer (August 28, 1899 – August 26, 1978) was a four-time Academy Award-nominated French-American actor who starred in several classic Hollywood films, as well as television director and producer. 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. 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. In 1935, he starred in the psychiatric drama Private Worlds, and although the film was not a huge success, Charles Boyer was. 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). 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. 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 1943, he was awarded a 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. 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). 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 musical version of Lost Horizon (1973, a commercial failure), although he also had a notable part as a corrupt city official in the 1969 film version of The Madwoman of Chaillot. 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. Boyer's marriage to British actress Pat Paterson, his first and only wife, was as romantic as his movies. It was love at first sight when they met at a dinner party in 1934. Two weeks later, they were engaged. Three months later, they were married. Later, they would move from Hollywood to Paradise Valley, Arizona. The marriage would last 44 years. Two days after his wife died from cancer in 1978, Boyer committed suicide with an overdose of Seconal while at a friend's home at Scottsdale. He was taken to the hospital in Phoenix where he died. He was interred in Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California, United States alongside his wife, and son Michael Charles Boyer, who had committed suicide playing Russian roulette after breaking up with his girlfriend in 1965 at the age of 21.
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