Fernand Gravey

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Fernand Gravey (December 25, 1905, Ixelles (Belgium) - November 2, 1970, Paris, France[1]), also known as Fernand Gravet in America, was the son of actors Georges Mertens and Fernande Depernay, who have appeared in silent films produced by pioneer "Belge Cinéma Film" (a subsidiary of Pathé).


Early life

He started performing at the age of five, under his father's direction. Prior to World War I, he received an education in Britain and could speak both French and English fluently, something which would become useful in his movie roles.

During the First World War, Gravet, who stood about five feet nine inches tall, went into the British Merchant Marine Corp.

Film career

He had made four silent films in 1913 and 1914, but his first film of any importance was L'Amour Chante in 1930. In 1933, he made his first English language film, Bitter Sweet, which would become more famous in its 1940 incarnation with Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.

In 1937, after several other French and British films, Gravet became the focus of an extravagant Hollywood publicity campaign, instructing moviegoers to pronounce his name properly: "Rhymes with 'Gravy'".

The roles offered to him were rather standard and he was cast in the same type Louis Jourdan would be cast in the 50's and 60's. The first two films he made in America were for Warner Brothers: The King and the Chorus Girl (1937), opposite Joan Blondell and Jane Wyman, and Fools for Scandal (1938), opposite Carole Lombard and Ralph Bellamy. He then signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and was cast as Johann Strauss in the enormously expensive biopic The Great Waltz, opposite Luise Rainer and Miliza Korjus.

He returned to France just before the Nazi occupation. Although he had agreed to star in German-approved French films, he was also a great underminer of the invaders as a member of the French Secret Army and the Foreign Legion.

Gravet returned to film a war hero, and continued to star in such productions as La Ronde (with Danielle Darrieux), and Royal Affairs in Versailles (1954).

Among his last English language performances were How to Steal a Million (1966), Guns for San Sebastian (1968) and The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969), in which he played the police inspector.

Selected filmography


  1. ^ Death certificate # 8/445/1970

External links