Louis Jourdan

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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)
Born Louis Robert Gendre
(1921-06-19) 19 June 1921 (age 93)
Marseille, France
Occupation Actor
Years active 1939–1992
Spouse(s) Berthe Frédérique "Quique" Jourdan
(m.1946–present); 1 child
Children Louis 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]

Louis Jourdan with Felicia Montealegre (1955)

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]


Year Film Role Notes
1939 Le Corsaire (The Pirate) Film never completed
1940 La Comédie du bonheur (Italy: Ecco la felicità) (England Comedy of Happiness) Fédor
1941 Parade en sept nuits Freddy, le clown
Her First Affair (France: Premier rendez-vous) Pierre Rougemont
1942 La Belle aventure André d'Éguzon
L'Arlésienne Frédéri
1943 Untel père et fils (US: The Heart of a Nation) Christian (uncredited)
1944 Les Petites du quai aux fleurs Francis
1945 La Vie de Boheme Rodolphe/Rodolfo
Félicie Nanteuil (US: Twilight) Robert de Ligny
1947 The Paradine Case André Latour, Paradine's Valet
1948 Letter from an Unknown Woman Stefan Brand
No Minor Vices Octavio Quaglini
1949 Madame Bovary Rodolphe Boulanger
1951 Bird of Paradise André Laurence
Anne of the Indies Captain Pierre François La Rochelle
1952 The Happy Time Uncle Desmond Bonnard
1953 Paris Precinct Insp. Beaumont TV (15 episodes, 1953–1955)
Decameron Nights Giovanni Boccaccio/Paganino/Giulio/Don Bertando
Rue de l'Estrapade Henri Laurent
1954 Three Coins in the Fountain Prince Dino di Cessi
1956 The Bride Is Much Too Beautiful Michel
Julie Lyle Benton
The Swan Dr. Nicholas Agi
1957 Dangerous Exile Duke Philippe de Beauvais
Escapade Frank Raphaël
1958 Gigi Gaston Lachaille Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
2nd Place – Golden Laurel Award for Top Male Musical Performance
1959 The Best of Everything David Savage
1960 Can-Can Philipe Forrestier
1961 The Count of Monte Cristo Edmond Dantès / Comte de Monte Cristo
Le Vergini di Roma Drusco
1962 Il disordine Tom aka Disorder
1963 Irma la Douce Narrator
Mathias Sandorf Le comte Mathias Sandorf
The V.I.P.s Marc Champselle
1966 Les Sultans Laurent
Made in Paris Marc Fontaine
1967 Cervantes Cardinal Acquaviva
To Commit a Murder Charles Beaulieu aka Peau d'espion
1968 To Die in Paris Colonel Bertine Westrex TV
A Flea in Her Ear Henri Tournel
1969 Fear No Evil David Sorell TV
Run a Crooked Mile Richard Stuart TV
1970 Ritual of Evil David Sorell TV
1973 The Great American Beauty Contest Ralph Dupree TV
1975 Piange Il Telefono
1976 L'hippopotamours Le camionneur
1977 Count Dracula Count Dracula TV
The Man in the Iron Mask D'Artagnan TV
Plus ça va, moins ça va Paul Tango
1978 Columbo "Murder Under Glass" Paul Gerard TV
Silver Bears Prince di Siracusa
1979 The French Atlantic Affair Captain Charles Girodt TV
1982 Gamble on Love
Bayou Romance Host (uncredited)
Escape to Love
Swamp Thing Dr. Anton Arcane
1983 Double Deal Peter Sterling
Octopussy Kamal Khan
1984 Cover Up George LeMare TV
1984 The First Olympics: Athens, 1896 Pierre de Coubertin TV
1986 Beverly Hills Madam Douglas Corbin TV
1987 Escuadrón Kassar
Grand Larceny Charles Grand
1989 The Return of Swamp Thing Dr. Anton Arcane
1992 Year of the Comet Philippe

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.

External links[edit]