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Louis Jourdan

Performer
( b. Jun 19, 1921 Marseilles, FRANCE - d. Feb 14, 2015 Beverly Hills, California, USA ) Male
Also known as: Louis Henri Gendre [Birthname]
Louis Jourdan was a handsome, sad-eyed French actor who worked in films and on television in Europe and the United States for more than 50 years, as a romantic hero in movies like "Gigi" and later as a suave villain in movies like "Octopussy."

Mr. Jourdan had a reserved, quiet manner that lent his performances an aura of mystery and even of melancholy and that served him well in both sympathetic and unsympathetic roles. His durability was remarkable, considering that his European screen career as well as his American one began inauspiciously.

Born Louis Henri Gendre in Marseilles, Mr. Jourdan attended acting school in Paris and was tapped for a role in the film "Le Corsaire," directed by Marc Allégret. But the outbreak of World War II interrupted the production, and the movie was never completed. He appeared in several films during the Occupation, often directed by Mr. Allégret, for whom he also sometimes worked as an assistant director. After his father, a hotelier, was arrested by the Gestapo, Mr. Jourdan joined the Resistance.

After the war he went to the United States and attracted the attention of the producer David O. Selznick, who cast him in the courtroom drama "The Paradine Case" (1947), very much against the wishes of the director, Alfred Hitchcock. Mr. Jourdan was more fortunate in his next Hollywood assignment, playing a concert pianist who seduces and abandons Joan Fontaine in Max Ophuls's elegant romantic tragedy. "Letter From an Unknown Woman" (1948).

The next year he won the important role of Rodolphe, the heroine's lover, in Vincente Minnelli's film version of "Madame Bovary." For the next decade he appeared in many high-profile, big-budget studio pictures, usually performing the somewhat limited function of embodying Hollywood's idea of the dashing, cultured, worldly European man.

His greatest success in this mode came when he starred opposite Leslie Caron in Mr. Minnelli's musical "Gigi" (1958), a major hit that won nine Academy Awards, including best picture. (Mr. Jourdan was not nominated, for this or for any other movie in his career; "Gigi" did, however, earn him a Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy or musical.)

Between Hollywood jobs, Mr. Jourdan would occasionally return to Europe to make films, among them Jacques Becker's "Rue de l'Estrapade" (1953). And in 1954 he took a shot at Broadway, playing the lead in a stage adaptation of André Gide's novel The Immoralist. Although he received good reviews, his performance was partly eclipsed by that of a striking young actor in the supporting cast: James Dean.

After the 1950s, the Continental types that had been Mr. Jourdan's bread and butter fell out of favor in American movies. For the last 30 years of his performing life Mr. Jourdan -- still attractive and still impeccably dignified, but looking a bit more world-weary with every passing year -- was cast more often as a Prince of Darkness than as Prince Charming. He played the oily Dr. Anton Arcane in Wes Craven's "Swamp Thing" (1982) and its 1989 sequel, "The Return of Swamp Thing," and the evil Kamal Khan, from whom James Bond is obliged to save the world, in "Octopussy" (1983).

Mr. Jourdan had the opportunity to play more nuanced villains on television. He was a guest murderer on "Columbo" in 1978, a year after he gave a seductive and chilling performance in the title role of "Count Dracula" on the BBC. Louis Jourdan made his last appearance on screen in 1992, in the caper film "Year of the Comet." He played the bad guy.

Source: The New York Times obituary 


ProductionsDate of Productions
13 Rue de l'Amour
[Play, Original]
  • Starring: Louis Jourdan [Moricet]
Mar 16, 1978 - May 21, 1978
Tonight in Samarkand
[Play, Melodrama, Original]
  • Performer: Louis Jourdan [Sourab Kayam]
Feb 16, 1955 - Mar 12, 1955
The Immoralist
[Play, Drama, Original]
  • Starring: Louis Jourdan [Michel]
Feb 08, 1954 - May 01, 1954
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