Eddie Constantine

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Eddie Constantine
Anna Karina with Constantine in
Godard's Alphaville
Born Edward Constantinowsky
(1917-10-29)October 29, 1917
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died February 25, 1993(1993-02-25) (aged 75)
Wiesbaden, Germany
Occupation Film actor, singer

Eddie Constantine (born Edward Constantinowsky; October 29, 1917 – February 25, 1993) was an American French[1][2] actor and singer who spent his career working in Europe.

He became well known for a series of French B movies in which he played secret agent Lemmy Caution and is now best remembered for his role in Jean-Luc Godard's philosophical science fiction film Alphaville (1965).

Constantine also appeared in films by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (as himself in Beware of a Holy Whore 1971), Lars von Trier, and Mika Kaurismäki. He continued reprising the role of Lemmy Caution well into his 70s; his final appearance as the character was in Jean-Luc Godard's Allemagne 90 neuf zéro (1991).


Edward Constantinowsky[3][4] was born in Los Angeles to immigrant parents, a Russian father and Polish mother. In pursuit of a singing career, he went to Vienna for voice training, but when he returned to America his career didn't take off and he started taking work as a film extra.[1] Having failed to make a career in America, Constantine returned to Europe in the 1950s and started singing and performing in Parisian cabarets. He was noticed by Edith Piaf, who cast him in the musical La p'tite Lili. Constantine also helped Piaf with translations for her 1956 album, La Vie En Rose / Édith Piaf Sings In English, so that he has song-writing credits on the English versions of some of her most famous songs (especially "Hymne à l'amour"/"Hymn to Love").[5]

In the 1950s Constantine was a star in France due to his role as the hard-boiled detective/secret agent Lemmy Caution (from Peter Cheyney's novels) in a series of French B-pictures, including La môme vert-de-gris (1953), Cet homme est dangereux (1953), Ça va barder (1953), Je suis un sentimental (1955), Lemmy pour les dames (1961) and À toi de faire... mignonne (1963).

Constantine eventually became a French citizen and enjoyed great popularity in several European countries, including France and Germany. When not playing Lemmy Caution, Constantine's character would still typically be a suave-talking, seductive, smooth guy, although he often played this for laughs. He turned his accent and perceived American cockiness to advantage in such roles, and later described his film persona as having been "James Bond before James Bond".[6]

One of his most notable roles was in Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965), in which he reprised (to a more radical end) the role of Lemmy Caution, in a departure from the style of his other films. His box-office appeal in France waned in the mid-1960s. Having remarried to a German television producer, he eventually relocated to Germany, where he worked as a character actor, appearing in German TV dramas as well as film. Constantine later claimed he had never taken his acting career seriously, as he considered himself to be a singer by trade, and had been an actor strictly for the money.[6] He nevertheless worked with directors such as Godard and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and his last notable film appearance was in Lars Von Trier's Europa in 1991. He had taken up the part of Lemmy for the last time in the same year, in Godard's experimental film Allemagne 90 neuf zéro.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Constantine was married three times, to Helinka Musilova (divorced), with whom he had three children, Dorothea Gibson (1977–78, divorced), and the film producer Maya Faber-Jansen (1979–93, Constantine's death), with whom he had one child.[1] His son, born in 1957 and named after Constantine's famous role, is Lemmy Constantine (entry on French Wikipedia), who is also a singer and actor.


Eddie Constantine died of a heart attack on February 25, 1993, aged 75.


Year Title Director Role Notes
1953 Egypt by Three Victor Stoloff Nick (third episode)
La môme vert-de-gris Bernard Borderie Lemmy Caution
Cet homme est dangereux Jean Sacha Lemmy Caution
1954 Repris de justice (Avanzi di galera) Vittorio Cottafavi Franco Cesari
Les femmes s'en balancent Bernard Borderie Lemmy Caution
Votre dévoué Blake Jean Laviron Larry Blake
1955 Ça va barder John Berry Johnny Jordan
Je suis un sentimental John Berry Barney Morgan
1956 Les Truands Carlo Rim Jim Esposito
Vous pigez ? Pierre Chevalier Lemmy Caution
Ce soir les jupons volent Dimitri Kirsanoff M. Howard
Folies-Bergère Henri Decoin Bob Wellington
L'Homme et l'Enfant Raoul André Fred Barker
Bonsoir Paris, bonjour l'amour (fr) Ralph Baum cameo appearance
1957 Le Grand Bluff Patrice Dally Eddie F. Morgan
Ces dames préfèrent le mambo Bernard Borderie Burt Brickford
1958 Passport to Shame Alvin Rakoff Johnny McVey
Incognito Patrice Dally Bob Stanley
Hoppla, jetzt kommt Eddie - Bien joué mesdames Werner Klingler Eddie Petersen
1959 Du rififi chez les femmes Alex Joffé Williams
The Treasure of San Teresa - Larry agent secret Alvin Rakoff Larry Brennan
SOS Pacific Guy Green Mark
1960 Me faire ça à moi Pierre Grimblat Eddie MacAvoy
Comment qu'elle est Bernard Borderie Lemmy Caution
Ça peut toujours servir (Bomben auf Monte Carlo) Georg Jacoby Kapitän Eddie Cronen
Chien de pique Yves Allégret Patrick
Ça va être ta fête Pierre Montazel John Lewis / John Jarvis
Ravissante Robert Lamoureux cameo appearance
1961 Une grosse tête Claude de Givray Naps
En Pleine bagarre (Mani in alto) Giorgio Bianchi Felice Esposito
Cause toujours, mon lapin Guy Lefranc Jackson
1962 The Seven Deadly Sins Jean-Luc Godard (6th segment) cameo appearance
Cléo from 5 to 7 Agnès Varda cameo appearance
Lemmy pour les dames Bernard Borderie Lemmy Caution
Bonne chance, Charlie Jean-Louis Richard Charlie
L'Empire de la nuit Pierre Grimblat Eddie
Nous irons à Deauville Francis Rigaud cameo appearance
1963 Des frissons partout Raoul André Jeff Gordon
Les Femmes d'abord Raoul André Bobby Carao
À toi de faire... mignonne Bernard Borderie Lemmy Caution
Rote Lippen soll man küssen Franz Antel as himself
Lykke og krone Coljörn Helander and Stein Saelen cameo appearance
Comment trouvez-vous ma sœur ? Michel Boisrond as himself
1964 Ces dames s'en mêlent Raoul André "Jeff Gordon"
Nick Carter va tout casser Henri Decoin Nick Carter
Laissez tirer les tireurs Guy Lefranc Jeff Gordon
Lucky Jo (fr) Michel Deville Lucky Jo
1965 Nick Carter et le trèfle rouge Jean-Paul Savignac Nick Carter
Cent briques et des tuiles Pierre Grimblat cameo appearance
Faites vos jeux, mesdames ou Feu à volonté Marcel Ophuls Mike Warner
Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution Jean-Luc Godard Lemmy Caution
Je vous salue, mafia! Raoul Lévy Rudy
1966 Residencia para espías Jesus Franco Dan Leyton
Cartes sur table (Cartas boca arriba) (Attack Of The Robots) Jesus Franco Al Pereira (Al Peterson)
1967 Ces messieurs de la famille Raoul André Cousin Lemmy
1968 Les Gros Malins Raymond Leboursier Eddie
À tout casser (fr) John Berry Ric
1969 Lions Love Agnès Varda as himself
1970 Malatesta Peter Lilienthal Mr Malatesta
1971 Haytabo (Eddie geht weiter) Ulli Lommel the professor
Beware of a Holy Whore (Warnung vor einer heiligen Nutte) Rainer Werner Fassbinder as himself
Supergirl – Das Mädchen von den Sternen Rudolf Thome party guest
1973 Geen paniek Ko Koedijk Bill Silkstocking
1975 Une baleine qui avait mal aux dents Jacques Bral Eddie
Souvenir of Gibraltar Henri Xhonneux Father Jo
Der Zweite Frühling Ulli Lommel Frank Cabot
1977 Mort au sang donneur (Bloedverwanten) Wim Lindner Priest
Le Couple témoin William Klein Jean-Michel
1978 Les Monstres sont toujours vivants (It Lives Again) Larry Cohen Dr. Forrest
1979 The Third Generation (Die Dritte Generation) Rainer Werner Fassbinder Peter Lurz
Bildnis einer Trinkerin (de) Ulrike Ottinger cameo appearance
1980 Exit... nur keine Panik Franz Novotny cameo appearance
Panische Zeiten (de) Udo Lindenberg cameo appearance
Car-napping Wigbert Wicker police officer Laroux
The Long Good Friday John Mackenzie Charlie
1981 Tango durch Deutschland Lutz Mommartz Eddie
Neige Juliet Berto et Jean-Henri Roger Pierrot
Freak Orlando Ulrike Ottinger cameo appearance
1982 Rote Liebe Rosa von Praunheim Pawel Pawlowitsch
Boxoffice Josef Bogdanovitch Hugh Barren
1983 Das Mikado-Projekt Torsten Emrich Lemmy Caution
Der Schnüffler (de) Ottokar Runze Gregori Ustinov
La Bête noire Patrick Chaput the bar proprietor
1984 Seifenblasen Alfred Ninaus cameo appearance
Tiger - Frühling in Wien Peter Patzak Lemmy Caution
Fluchtpunkt Berlin Christopher Petit as himself
Uno Scugnizzo a New York Mariano Laurenti Sammy
1985 Paul Chevrolet en de ultieme hallucinatie Pim de la Parra Boy Pappa
1986 Makaroni Blues Bela Csepesanyi Lemmy Caution
1987 Pehavý Max a strasidlá Jaraj Jakubisco Vodník Alojz
Helsinki Napoli All Night Long Mika Kaurismäki Old Gangster
1989 Europa, abends Claudia Schröder Mr. Hardayle
1991 Europa Lars von Trier Colonel Harris
Allemagne 90 neuf zéro Jean-Luc Godard Lemmy Caution
Tokyo no kyujitsu (東京の休日) Naoki Nagao cameo appearance
1993 Three Shake-a-leg Steps to Heaven (lb) Andy Bausch Don Fabrizzi


  1. ^ a b c d IMDB entry for Eddie Constantine, retrieved 2010-07-20 
  2. ^ "Constantine, Eddie". Retrieved February 2, 2012. 
  3. ^ Azzopardi, Michel (1997). Le temps des vamps: 1915-1965. L'Harmattan. ISBN 978-2-7384-4866-8. 
  4. ^ McKinney, Mark (2008). History and politics in French language comics and graphic novels. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1-60473-004-3. 
  5. ^ DISCOGS entry for La Vie En Rose / Édith Piaf Sings In English, retrieved 2010-07-20 
  6. ^ a b Eddie Constantine biography at cinemapassion.com

External links[edit]