Monday, October 26, 2009

Charles Boyer

Charles Boyer was born on August 28, 1899 in Figeac, Lot, Midi-Pyrenees, France.

Boyer appeared in more than 80 films between 1920 and 1976. Starting his career on the stage, he later found success in European and Hollywood movies in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

During World War I, Charles Boyer worked as a hospital orderly and performed comic sketches for the soldiers at the hospital. He began his studies at Sorbonne, and was waiting for a chance to study acting at the Paris Conservatory. He went to Paris to finish his education but spent most of his time pursuing a theatrical career. In 1920s he was a suave and sophisticated ladies' man on the stage and also appeared in several silent films.

MGM signed him to a contract but nothing much came of his first few years in Hollywood. However, with the coming of talkies, his deep voice made him a romantic star.

His first big break came with a very small role in Jean Harlow's Red-Headed Woman (1932). Roles in Caravan (1934) with Loretta Young and Private Worlds (1935) with Claudette Colbert soon followed.

Some of his most notable films include Conquest (1937), Algiers (1938), Love Affair (1939), Gaslight (1944), Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), Casino Royale (1967), Barefoot in the Park (1967), and Fanny (1961).

He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for Conquest (1937), Algiers (1938), Gaslight (1944) and Fanny (1961). He also received a special Tony Award in 1952 for his performance in the 1951 Broadway production of "Don Juan in Hell".

In addition to French and English, he spoke Italian, German, and Spanish and was also an avid bookworm.

Chuck Jones used his French voice and mannerisms when he created famed cartoon skunk Pepé Le Pew.

In addition, to his work in movies and theatre, he also appeared in several television shows, including a delightful performance as himself on I Love Lucy. He received an Emmy nomination for Best Continuing Performance by an Actor in a Dramatic Series for "Four Star Playhouse" (1952).

On February 14, 1934, he married Pat Paterson with whom he had one son, Michael. They remained married 44 years until her death from cancer on August 24, 1978. Grief strickin over the loss of his wife and the earlier death of his only son Micheal (Michael died at the age of 21 playing Russian Roulette), Charles Boyer commited suicide by taking a fatal dose of barbiturates on August 26, 1978.

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