from the film A Star Is Born (1937).
|Born||Adolphe Jean Menjou
February 18, 1890
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||October 29, 1963
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Katherine Conn Tinsley (m. 1920–27)
|Relatives||Henri Menjou (brother)|
Adolphe Jean Menjou (February 18, 1890 – October 29, 1963) was an American actor. His career spanned both silent films and talkies, appearing in such films as Paths of Glory, The Sheik, A Woman of Paris, Morocco, and A Star is Born. He was nominated for an Academy Award for The Front Page in 1931.
Menjou was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to a French father, Albert Menjou, and an Irish mother from Galway, Nora (née Joyce). He had a brother named Henri who was a year younger. He was reared Roman Catholic, attended the Culver Military Academy, and graduated from Cornell University with a degree in engineering. Attracted to the vaudeville stage, he made his movie debut in 1916 in The Blue Envelope Mystery. During World War I, he served as a Captain in the United States Army ambulance service.
Menjou was married to Verree Teasdale from 1934 until his death on 29 October 1963 and had one adopted son. He was previously married to Kathryn Carver in 1928. They divorced in 1934. A prior marriage to Kathryn Conn Tinsley also ended in divorce.
Returning from the war, he became a star in such films as The Sheik and The Three Musketeers. When he starred in 1923's A Woman of Paris, he solidified the image of a well-dressed man-about-town, and was later voted the Best Dressed Man in America nine times. His career stalled with the coming of talkies, but in 1930, he starred in Morocco, with Marlene Dietrich. He was nominated for an Academy Award for The Front Page (1931).
Menjou was a Republican. In 1944, he joined other celebrity Republicans at a rally in the Los Angeles Coliseum arranged by David O. Selznick in support of the Dewey-Bricker ticket as well as Governor Earl Warren of California, who would be Dewey's running mate in 1948. The gathering drew 93,000, with Cecil B. DeMille as the master of ceremonies and short speeches by Hedda Hopper and Walt Disney. Despite the good turnout at the rally, most Hollywood celebrities who took a public position sided with the Roosevelt-Truman ticket.
In 1947, Menjou cooperated with the House Committee on Un-American Activities in its hunt for communists in Hollywood. Menjou was a leading member of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a group formed to oppose communist influence in Hollywood. Other members included John Wayne, Barbara Stanwyck (with whom he co-starred in Forbidden in 1932 and Golden Boy in 1939) and her husband, actor Robert Taylor.
Because of his political sympathies, Menjou came into conflict with actress Katharine Hepburn. Menjou appeared with her in the films Stage Door and State of the Union, which also starred Spencer Tracy. Hepburn was strongly opposed to Americans co-operating with the McCarthy hearings. Their clashes were reportedly instant, and mutually cutting; Menjou said of Hepburn during the House Committee on Un-American Activities investigation into alleged communist infiltration, "Scratch a do-gooder, like Hepburn, and they'll yell, 'Pravda'." To this, Hepburn called Menjou, "Wisecracking, witty—a flag-waving superpatriot who invested his American dollars in Canadian bonds and had a thing about Communists." Unsurprisingly, it was reported by William Mann in his biography of Hepburn, Kate, that during the filming of State of the Union, she and Menjou only spoke to each other when required to in the film script.
Later years and death
Menjou ended his film career with such roles as French General George Broulard in 1957's Paths of Glory.
He guest starred as Fitch, with Orson Bean and Sue Randall as John and Ellen Monroe, in an 1961 episode, "The Secret Life of James Thurber", based on the works of the American humorist James Thurber, of the CBS anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson. He also appeared in the Thanksgiving episode of NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford, which aired on November 22, 1956. His final film role as the town curmudgeon in Disney's Pollyanna was one of his best known roles.
In 1948, he published his autobiography, It Took Nine Tailors. Menjou has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6822 Hollywood Blvd.
Menjou had a brother Henri Menjou (1891–1956) who made an attempt to become an actor. He made three films for Paramount in the mid-1930s.
In Honor Thy Mother, the thirteenth episode of the ninth season of Cheers (aired January 3, 1991) where Carla Tortelli's mother pressures Carla to follow the family tradition and name one of her sons with her father's first name and her mother's maiden name, resulting in the name Benito Mussolini, Rebecca Howe quips to the bar "Well, it could have been worse. What if her father's name had been Adolf?" to which Woody Boyd adds "Yeah, and her mother's maiden name could have been Menjou. Phew! She really dodged a bullet there."
In Abyssinia, Henry, the final episode of the third season of M*A*S*H*, Trapper John McIntyre compliments Henry Blake on his custom-made, pin-striped, double breasted suit by saying, "Henry, that suit is really you," to which Hawkeye Pierce responds, "If you're Adolphe Menjou."
In Irresistible Andy, the fifth episode of the first season of The Andy Griffith Show, Sheriff Andy Taylor compliments Barney Fife upon seeing him wearing his signature Salt and Pepper suit for the first time and calls him "The Adolphe Menjou of Mayberry."
In The Bob Hope Show, the tenth episode of the thirteenth season of The Jack Benny Program, after announcing he won the American Tailors Association award for being the "Best Dressed Male Performer in Television", Jack says "and Rochester, Rochester says I was silly buying Adolphe Menjou's old clothes."
In Billy Wilder's 1950 film Sunset Boulevard Jack Webb (as Artie Green) upon seeing his friend in evening clothes, asks William Holden (as Joe Gillis) "Judas E. Priest, who did you borrow that from? Adolphe Menjou?" to which Joe replies "Close, but no cigar".
Because of Menjou's public support of McCarthy's communists hunt the anti-imperialistic propaganda of the GDR (German Democratic Republic) used to display their western opponents typically with a Menjou-style moustache. Vice versa, in the GDR it was rated as a statement of political opposition to trim one's moustache that way. This kind of beard became a general symbol for the demimonde, criminal Westler and in Germany it is still called Menjou-Bärtchen (Menjou beardlet). In German film and theatre play dubious gentlemen, opportunists, corrupt politicians, fraudulent persuaders, marriage impostors or other charming criminals are often equipped with such a Menjou-Bärtchen and in real life it is linked by prejudice and self-fulfilling prophecy to occupations like car trader, travelling salesman, insurance agent, pimp, investment consultant or estate agent.
- Obituary Variety, October 30, 1963, page 71.
- Ed Sullivan (February 11, 1940). "Looking at Hollywood with Ed Sullivan". Chicago Daily Tribune. Retrieved September 2, 2009.
- Brumburgh, Gary. "Adolphe Menjou". FullMovieReview. Retrieved April 10, 2011.
- David M. Jordan, FDR, Dewey, and the Election of 1944 (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2011), pp. 231-232
- "Hollywood Is a Main Red Center, Adolphe Menjou Tells House Body. Calls Hollywood A Center Of Reds". New York Times. May 16, 1947. Retrieved May 25, 2011. "Adolphe Menjou, a veteran actor, told a House Un-American Activities subcommittee today that "Hollywood is one of the main centers of Communist activity in America." ..."
- "The Ford Show Episode Guide". ernieford.com. Archived from the original on November 28, 2010. Retrieved November 23, 2010.
- "Dapper Adolphe Menjou Dies After Long Illness". Associated Press. October 29, 1963. Retrieved May 25, 2011. "He had been suffering from jaundice for some time. Death came at his home in Beverly Hills. With him were his third wife, the former Veree Teasdale, ..."
- Lewis, Mary Beth. "Ten Best First Facts", in Car and Driver, 1/88, p.92.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Adolphe Menjou.|
- Adolph Menjou at the Internet Movie Database
- Adolphe Menjou at the TCM Movie Database
- Adolphe Menjou at AllMovie
- Photographs of Adolphe Menjou