Louis Jourdan

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Louis Jourdan
Louis Jourdan in Madame Bovary trailer.JPG
Jourdan in trailer for Madame Bovary (1949)
BornLouis Robert Gendre
(1921-06-19) 19 June 1921 (age 93)
Marseille, France
Years active1939–1992
Spouse(s)Berthe Frédérique "Quique" Jourdan
(m.1946–present); 1 child
ChildrenLouis Henry Jourdan (1951–1981)
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Not to be confused with Louis Jordan.
Louis Jourdan
Louis Jourdan in Madame Bovary trailer.JPG
Jourdan in trailer for Madame Bovary (1949)
BornLouis Robert Gendre
(1921-06-19) 19 June 1921 (age 93)
Marseille, France
Years active1939–1992
Spouse(s)Berthe Frédérique "Quique" Jourdan
(m.1946–present); 1 child
ChildrenLouis Henry Jourdan (1951–1981)

Louis Jourdan (born Louis Robert Gendre, 19 June 1921)[1] is a retired French film and television actor. He is 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).

Early life[edit]

Jourdan was born Louis Robert Gendre, one of three sons born in Marseille, France to Yvonne (née Jourdan) and Henry Gendre, a hotel owner.[2] 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).[3]

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.

World War II[edit]

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.[4]

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 along with his wife and three sons.[4] "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."[4] After the liberation of France, he returned to Paris with his wife,[when?] his childhood sweetheart, Berte Frederique ("Quique"). The couple had one son. Jourdan started appearing in French films.[citation needed]

Hollywood career[edit]

Cited by author James McKay as the "epitome of the suave Continental",[5] 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 Selznick's The Paradine Case, a drama directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Gregory Peck. In Hollywood, he became friends with several stars who shared his love of the game of croquet. Jourdan frequently argued with Selznick, who put him on suspension a number of times for refusing roles.[6]

After appearing in Three Coins in the Fountain (1954), Jourdan made his Broadway début in the lead role in Billy Rose's drama, The Immoralist. He returned to the Great White Way for a short run in 1955, and also that year he made his American TV début as Inspector Beaumont in the TV series Paris Precinct. In 1956, he appeared in the film The Swan along with Grace Kelly and Sir Alec Guinness, playing the role of "Dr Nicholas Agi".[7]

During the 1950s, Jourdan acted in several major films, taking the male lead in The Bride Is Much Too Beautiful (1956) with Brigitte Bardot as the lead actress. However, he may be best remembered as the romantic lead with Leslie Caron and Maurice Chevalier in the film version of the novella by Colette, Gigi (1958). This film won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Jourdan co-starred with Frank Sinatra and Shirley MacLaine in the musical Can-Can (1960).[7]

In later years, Jourdan also appeared on television, including 1977's Count Dracula for the BBC and the 1978 Columbo episode Murder Under Glass. He later played Anton Arcane in the movie Swamp Thing (1982) and in its sequel The Return of Swamp Thing (1989). During the 1970s, Jourdan recorded a series of spoken word albums of the Babar the Elephant books that were released by Caedmon Records. In 1983, Jourdan played the villainous Kamal Khan in the James Bond movie Octopussy. He played the role of Pierre de Coubertin in The First Olympics: Athens 1896, a 1984 TV series about the 1896 Summer Olympics.[7]

Personal life[edit]

On 11 March 1946, Jourdan married Berthe Frédérique (nicknamed "Quique"), with whom he had his only child, Louis Henry Jourdan (b. 6 October 1951),[8] a son who died of a drug overdose on 12 May 1981[9] and was buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, Los Angeles, California.

Louis Jourdan has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6153 and 6445 Hollywood Boulevard.

Later years[edit]

He retired and lives, at least part-time, with his wife of more than sixty years, "Quique", in the Greater Los Angeles Area. In July 2010, Jourdan was made an Officier de la Legion d'honneur, which he received, accompanied by friends, including Sidney Poitier and Kirk Douglas.[10]


1939Le Corsaire (The Pirate)Film never completed
1940La Comédie du bonheur (Italy: Ecco la felicità) (England Comedy of Happiness)Fédor
1941Parade en sept nuitsFreddy, le clown
Her First Affair (France: Premier rendez-vous)Pierre Rougemont
1942La Belle aventureAndré d'Éguzon
1943Untel père et fils (US: The Heart of a Nation)Christian(uncredited)
1944Les Petites du quai aux fleursFrancis
1945La Vie de BohemeRodolphe/Rodolfo
Félicie Nanteuil (US: Twilight)Robert de Ligny
1947The Paradine CaseAndré Latour, Paradine's Valet
1948Letter from an Unknown WomanStefan Brand
No Minor VicesOctavio Quaglini
1949Madame BovaryRodolphe Boulanger
1951Bird of ParadiseAndré Laurence
Anne of the IndiesCaptain Pierre François La Rochelle
1952The Happy TimeUncle Desmond Bonnard
1953Paris PrecinctInsp. BeaumontTV (15 episodes, 1953–1955)
Decameron NightsGiovanni Boccaccio/Paganino/Giulio/Don Bertando
Rue de l'EstrapadeHenri Laurent
1954Three Coins in the FountainPrince Dino di Cessi
1956The Bride Is Much Too BeautifulMichel
JulieLyle Benton
The SwanDr. Nicholas Agi
1957Dangerous ExileDuke Philippe de Beauvais
EscapadeFrank Raphaël
1958GigiGaston LachailleNominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
2nd Place – Golden Laurel Award for Top Male Musical Performance
1959The Best of EverythingDavid Savage
1960Can-CanPhilipe Forrestier
1961The Count of Monte CristoEdmond Dantès / Comte de Monte Cristo
Le Vergini di RomaDrusco
1962Il disordineTomaka Disorder
1963Irma la DouceNarrator
Mathias SandorfLe comte Mathias Sandorf
The V.I.P.sMarc Champselle
1966Les SultansLaurent
Made in ParisMarc Fontaine
1967CervantesCardinal Acquaviva
To Commit a MurderCharles Beaulieuaka Peau d'espion
1968To Die in ParisColonel Bertine WestrexTV
A Flea in Her EarHenri Tournel
1969Fear No EvilDavid SorellTV
Run a Crooked MileRichard StuartTV
1970Ritual of EvilDavid SorellTV
1973The Great American Beauty ContestRalph DupreeTV
1975Piange Il Telefono
1976L'hippopotamoursLe camionneur
1977Count DraculaCount DraculaTV
The Man in the Iron MaskD'ArtagnanTV
Plus ça va, moins ça vaPaul Tango
1978Columbo "Murder Under Glass"Paul GerardTV
Silver BearsPrince di Siracusa
1979The French Atlantic AffairCaptain Charles GirodtTV
1982Gamble on Love
Bayou RomanceHost(uncredited)
Escape to Love
Swamp ThingDr. Anton Arcane
1983Double DealPeter Sterling
OctopussyKamal Khan
1984Cover UpGeorge LeMareTV
1984The First Olympics: Athens, 1896Pierre de CoubertinTV
1986Beverly Hills MadamDouglas CorbinTV
Grand LarcenyCharles Grand
1989The Return of Swamp ThingDr. Anton Arcane
1992Year of the CometPhilippe

Select Theatre Credits[edit]


  1. ^ "Louis Jourdan Takes on the Chevalier Role in Gigi and Proves He Remembers It Well", People.com; accessed 18 April 2014.
  2. ^ Louis Jourdan profile, FilmReference.com; accessed 5 June 2014.
  3. ^ Louis Jourdan - 20s and 30s, Louisjourdan.net, accessed 26 January 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "Louis Jourdan's War Service", Lewiston Evening Journal, 5 March 1960, which was reprinted here; accessed 21 January 2014
  5. ^ McKay, James (26 April 2010). Dana Andrews: The Face of Noir. McFarland. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-7864-5676-5. 
  6. ^ "Jourdan the Glamorous Gaul" by Rex Garner, Cornonet (1960); accessed 21 January 2014.
  7. ^ a b c Louis Jourdan at the Internet Movie Database
  8. ^ "Louis Jourdan". nndb.com. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  9. ^ "Louis Jourdan Jr. Is Found Dead", NYTimes.com, 14 May 1981; accessed 18 April 2014
  10. ^ A day with the French Ambassador on YouTube; retrieved 5 September 2010.

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