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Dalio in Casablanca
|Born||Israel Moshe Blauschild
23 November 1899
|Died||20 November 1983
|Spouse(s)||Jany Holt (1936-39)
Madeleine LeBeau (1939-42)
Michèle Béryl (?-?)
Life and career
Dalio was born Israel Moshe Blauschild in Paris to Romanian-Jewish immigrant parents. He performed in cabarets, revues and stage plays in the 1920s and acted in French films in the 1930s. After divorcing his first wife, Jany Holt, he married the young actress Madeleine Lebeau in 1939.
In June 1940, Lebeau and Dalio left Paris ahead of the invading German army and reached Lisbon. They are presumed to have received transit visas from Aristides de Sousa Mendes, allowing them to enter Spain and journey on to Portugal. It took them two months to get visas to Chile. However, when their ship, the S.S. Quanza, stopped in Mexico, they were stranded (along with around 200 other passengers) when the Chilean visas they had purchased turned out to be forgeries. Eventually they were able to get temporary Canadian passports and entered the United States. Dalio's parents would later die in Nazi concentration camps.
In Hollywood, Dalio was never able to rescale the heights of prominence that he had enjoyed in France. Dalio appeared in 19 movies in America during the Second World War, in stereotypical roles as Frenchman. In German-occupied France, the Nazis used his picture on posters as a representative of "a typical Jew".
Dalio's first movie in the United States was the 1941 Fred MacMurray comedy One Night in Lisbon where he portrayed a hotel concierge. Later that year, he appeared in the Edward G. Robinson movie Unholy Nights and the Gene Tierney movie The Shanghai Gesture. He remained busy in 1942, appearing in Flight Lieutenant starring Pat O'Brien and Glenn Ford. Dalio next portrayed a Frenchman, Focquet, in the movie The Pied Piper. In this movie, Monty Woolley portrayed an Englishman trying to get out of France with an ever-increasing number of children ahead of the German invasion. Dalio then appeared among the star-studded cast in Tales of Manhattan.
In 1942, he appeared in a couple of scenes as Emil the croupier in Casablanca (for which he was paid $667). In one of the movie's memorable scenes, when Renault closes down Rick's Cafe Americain using the pretext, "I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!", Emil approaches him and hands him his usual bribe money as "Your winnings sir." His wife Madeleine LeBeau was also in the film, playing Yvonne, Rick's on-again, off-again girlfriend. On June 22, while Lebeau was filming her scenes with Hans Twardowski, Dalio filed for divorce in Los Angeles on the grounds of desertion.
In 1943, he received some larger roles, for example in the war dramas Tonight We Raid Calais and Paris After Dark, in which he appeared with his ex-wife LeBeau. Later that year, Dalio played a French policeman in The Song of Bernadette. One of his best-known roles in American films was in the 1944 film adaptation of To Have and Have Not, opposite Humphrey Bogart.
When the war in Europe ended in May 1945, Dalio returned to France to continue his movie career. His first appearance that year was in Son dernier rôle. He appeared in ten more movies in France and one in England through the late 1940s. He played Captain Nikarescu in Black Jack (1950).
Dalio appeared in two movies in 1953, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes starring Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe and Flight to Tangier starring Joan Fontaine. In 1954, Dalio appeared in two American movies before returning to France, Lucky Me starring Doris Day and Sabrina starring Bogart and Audrey Hepburn. In Sabrina, the bearded Dalio played one of Hepburn's fellow cooking students in Paris.
In 1955, Dalio was back in America to appear in the poorly received television series Casablanca, where he portrayed the Claude Rains character, Captain Renault. Dalio had the role of a French sergeant in the war drama Jump into Hell about the French defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam. In 1957, Dalio appeared with Paul Henreid in the musical comedy Ten Thousand Bedrooms with Dean Martin. He also appeared as a French priest in a war movie, again about the French involvement in Vietnam, called China Gate (which features the acting of Nat King Cole). Finally that year, Dalio played Zizi in The Sun Also Rises (his third movie based on an Ernest Hemingway novel) starring Tyrone Power and Ava Gardner. In the next four years, he went on to appear in Lafayette Escadrille, The Perfect Furlough starring Tony Curtis, The Man Who Understood Women starring Henry Fonda, Pillow Talk starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day, Can-Can starring Frank Sinatra and The Devil at 4 O'Clock starring Sinatra and Spencer Tracy.
After making some more movies in France, Dalio received a small role in the mystery The List of Adrian Messenger, again with Sinatra and Curtis in 1963. This was followed with the part of Father Cluzeot in the John Wayne movie, Donovan's Reef. After appearing again with Tony Curtis in Wild and Wonderful in 1964, Dalio returned to France. He continued making movies for Hollywood, but he also appeared in many French productions.
Some later movies of Dalio's include Lady L starring Sophia Loren and Paul Newman in 1965, How to Steal a Million starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole in 1966 and How Sweet It Is! starring Debbie Reynolds and James Garner in 1968. Dalio played the "dirty" old Italian in Catch-22 and also appeared in The Great White Hope with James Earl Jones, both in 1970. After this, he did movies almost entirely in France, the best known of them being The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob. In 1975, Marcel served in the classic La Bête by Walerian Borowczyk. His last appearance was in a TV movie portraying Lord Exeter in Les Longuelune in 1982.
Dalio also appeared in numerous television shows both in the United States (between 1954 and 1963) and in France (1968 to 1981). These include guest appearances in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Peter Gunn, 77 Sunset Strip, Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond and Ben Casey. In the 1955 US TV series of Casablanca he took on the role of Captain Louis Renault, played by Claude Rains in the original film.
Dalio married Madeleine Prime in Los Angeles, in 1981.
Dalio, who appeared in almost 150 movies, died in Paris on 18 November 1983 at the age of 83. He is buried in Cimetière parisien de Bagneux in Hauts de Seine, France.
- Pépé le Moko (1937)
- La Grande Illusion (1937)
- La Règle du jeu (1939)
- The Shanghai Gesture (1941)
- One Night in Lisbon (1941)
- Casablanca (1942)
- Paris After Dark (1943)
- To Have and Have Not (1944)
- Sabrina (1954)
- Razzia sur la chnouf (1955)
- Le Diable et les Dix Commandements (1963)
- Tendre Voyou (fr) (1966)
- La Bête (1975)
- Shadow of the Castles (1977)
- Surprise Sock (1978)