Menjou in A Star Is Born (1937)
Adolphe Jean Menjou
February 18, 1890
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||October 29, 1963 (aged 73)|
|Resting place||Hollywood Forever Cemetery|
Katherine Conn Tinsley
(m. 1920; div. 1927)
(m. 1928; div. 1934)
Verree Teasdale (m. 1934; his death)
Adolphe Jean Menjou (February 18, 1890 – October 29, 1963) was an American actor. His career spanned both silent films and talkies. He appeared in such films as Charlie Chaplin's A Woman of Paris, where he played the lead role; Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory with Kirk Douglas; Ernst Lubitsch's The Marriage Circle; The Sheik with Rudolph Valentino; Morocco with Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper; and A Star Is Born with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, and was nominated for an Academy Award for The Front Page in 1931.
Menjou was born on February 18, 1890, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to a French father, Albert Menjou (1858–1917), and an Irish mother from Galway, Nora (née Joyce 1869–1953). His brother, Henry Arthur Menjou (1891–1956), was a year younger. He was raised 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, for which he trained in Pennsylvania before going overseas.
Career and stardom
After returning from the war, Menjou 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 voted Best Dressed Man in America nine times. In 1929, he attended the preview of Maurice Chevalier's first Hollywood film Innocents of Paris, and personally reassured Chevalier that he would enjoy a great future, despite the mediocre screenplay. His own 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 staunch Republican who equated the Democratic Party with socialism. He supported the Hoover administration's policies during the Great Depression. Menjou told a friend that he feared that if a Democrat won the White House, they "would raise taxes [and] destroy the value of the dollar," depriving Menjou of a good portion of his wealth. He took precautions against this threat: "I've got gold stashed in safety deposit boxes all over town... They'll never get an ounce from me." In the 1944 presidential election, he joined other celebrity Republicans at a rally in the Los Angeles Coliseum, organized by studio executive David O. Selznick, to support the Dewey–Bricker ticket and 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 rally's large turnout, most Hollywood celebrities who took public positions supported the Roosevelt–Truman ticket.
In 1947, Menjou cooperated with the House Committee on Un-American Activities saying that Hollywood "is one of the main centers of Communist activity in America". He added: "it is the desire and wish of the masters of Moscow to use this medium for their purposes" which is "the overthrow of the American government". 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, whose other members included John Wayne, Barbara Stanwyck (with whom Menjou costarred in Forbidden in 1932 and Golden Boy in 1939) and her husband, actor Robert Taylor.
Because of his political leanings, Menjou came into conflict with actress Katharine Hepburn, with whom he appeared in Morning Glory, Stage Door, and State of the Union (also starring Spencer Tracy). Hepburn was strongly opposed to the HUAC hearings, and their clashes were reportedly instant and mutually cutting. During a government deposition, Menjou said, "Scratch a do-gooder, like Hepburn, and they'll yell, 'Pravda'." To this, Hepburn called Menjou "wisecracking, witty—a flag-waving super-patriot who invested his American dollars in Canadian bonds and had a thing about Communists." In his book Kate, Hepburn biographer William Mann said that during the filming of State of the Union, she and Menjou spoke to each other only while acting.
Later years and death
In 1955, Menjou played Dr. Elliott Harcourt in "Barrier of Silence", episode 19 of the first season of the television series Science Fiction Theatre. He guest-starred as Fitch, with Orson Bean and Sue Randall as John and Ellen Monroe, in a 1961 episode, "The Secret Life of James Thurber", based on the works of American humorist James Thurber, in 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 was that of the town curmudgeon in Disney's Pollyanna (1960).
Menjou was married to Verree Teasdale from 1934 until his death on October 29, 1963; they had one adopted son. He previously married Kathryn Carver in 1928; they divorced in 1934. A prior marriage to Kathryn Conn Tinsley also ended in divorce.
In 1948, Menjou published his autobiography, It Took Nine Tailors.
Because of Menjou's public support of HUAC, the propaganda of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) often depicted their western opponents with Menjou-style moustaches, and it was considered a statement of political opposition to trim one's moustache that way. The style became a symbol for the resourceful criminal, and in Germany is still called Menjou-Bärtchen (Menjou beardlet). In German film and theatre, dubious men, opportunists, corrupt politicians, fraudulent persuaders, marriage impostors and other "slick" criminals often wear Menjou-Bärtchen. In real life, the style is often associated with opportunism.
Salvador Dalí admired Adolphe Menjou. He declared "la moustache d'Adolphe Menjou est surréaliste" and began offering fake mustaches from a silver cigarette case to other people with the words "Moustache? Moustache?" Moustache?"
- The Acid Test (1914, Short) as Extra (uncredited)
- The Man Behind the Door (1914) as Ringmaster (uncredited)
- A Parisian Romance (1916) as Julianai
- Nearly a King (1916) as Baron
- The Price of Happiness (1916) as Howard Neal
- The Habit of Happiness (1916) as Society Man (uncredited)
- The Crucial Test (1916) as Count Nicolai
- The Devil at His Elbow (1916) as Wilfred Carleton
- The Reward of Patience (1916) as Paul Dunstan
- Manhattan Madness (1916) as Minor Role (uncredited)
- The Scarlet Runner (1916) as Bit Part
- The Kiss (1916) as Pennington
- The Blue Envelope Mystery (1916) as Bit Part (uncredited)
- The Valentine Girl (1917) as Joe Winder
- Wild and Woolly (1917) (uncredited)
- The Amazons (1917) (uncredited)
- An Even Break (1917) as Bit Part (uncredited)
- The Moth (1917) as Teddy Marbridge / The Husband
- What Happened to Rosa (1920) as Reporter Friend of Dr. Drew (uncredited)
- The Faith Healer (1921) as Dr. Littlefield
- Courage (1921) as Bruce Ferguson
- Through the Back Door (1921) as James Brewster
- The Three Musketeers (1921) as Louis XIII
- Queenie (1921) as Count Michael
- The Sheik (1921) as Dr. Raoul de St. Hubert
- Head Over Heels (1922) as Sterling
- Arabian Love (1922) as Captain Fortine (uncredited)
- Is Matrimony a Failure? (1922) as Dudley King
- The Fast Mail (1922) as Cal Baldwin
- The Eternal Flame (1922) as Duc de Langeais
- Pink Gods (1922) as Louis Barney
- Clarence (1922) as Hubert Stein
- Singed Wings (1922) as Bliss Gordon
- The World's Applause (1923) as Robert Townsend
- Bella Donna (1923) as Mr. Chepstow
- Rupert of Hentzau (1923) as Count Rischenheim
- A Woman of Paris (1923) as Pierre Revel
- The Spanish Dancer (1923) as Don Salluste
- The Marriage Circle (1924) as Prof. Josef Stock
- Shadows of Paris (1924) as Georges de Croy, His Secretary
- The Marriage Cheat (1924) as Bob Canfield
- Broadway After Dark (1924) as Ralph Norton
- For Sale (1924) as Joseph Hudley
- Broken Barriers (1924) as Tommy Kemp
- Sinners in Silk (1924) as Arthur Merrill
- Open All Night (1924) as Edmund Durverne
- The Fast Set (1924) as Ernest Steel
- Forbidden Paradise (1924) as Chancellor
- A Kiss in the Dark (1925) as Walter Grenham
- The Swan (1925) as Albert von Kersten-Rodenfels
- Are Parents People? (1925) as Mr. Hazlitt
- Lost: A Wife (1925) as Tony Hamilton
- The King on Main Street (1925) as King Serge IV of Molvania
- The Grand Duchess and the Waiter (1926) as Albert Durant
- Fascinating Youth (1926) as Himself
- A Social Celebrity (1926) as Max Haber
- The Ace of Cads (1926) as Chappel Maturin
- The Sorrows of Satan (1926) as Prince Lucio de Rimanez
- Blonde or Brunette (1927) as Henri Martel
- Evening Clothes (1927) as Lucien d'Artois
- Service for Ladies (1927) as Albert Leroux
- A Gentleman of Paris (1927) as Marquis de Marignan
- Serenade (1927) as Franz Rossi
- A Night of Mystery (1928) as Captain Ferreol
- His Tiger Wife (1928) as Henri
- His Private Life (1928, with Kathryn Carver) as Georges St. Germain
- Marquis Preferred (1929) as Marquis d'Argenville
- Fashions in Love (1929) as Paul de Remy
- Soyons gais (1930) as Bob Brown
- Mon gosse de père (1930) as Jérome
- Amor audaz (1930) as Albert d'Arlons
- Mysterious Mr. Parkes (1930) as Courtenay Parkes
- Morocco (1930) as Monsieur La Bessiere
- New Moon (1930) as Governor Boris Brusiloff
- The Easiest Way (1931) as William Brockton
- Men Call It Love (1931) as Tony
- The Front Page (1931) as Walter Burns
- The Great Lover (1931) as Jean Paurel
- The Parisian (1931) as Jérome Rocheville
- Friends and Lovers (1931) as Captain Geoffrey Roberts
- Prestige (1931) as Capt. Remy Bandoin
- Wir schalten um auf Hollywood (1931) as Himself
- Forbidden (1932) as Bob
- Wife Beware (1932, first film ever shown at a drive-in) as Maj. Carey Liston
- Bachelor's Affairs (1932) as Andrew Hoyt
- Diamond Cut Diamond (1932) as Dan McQueen
- The Night Club Lady (1932) as Police Commissioner Thatcher Colt
- A Farewell to Arms (1932) as Rinaldi
- The Circus Queen Murder (1933) as Thatcher Colt
- Morning Glory (1933) as Louis Easton
- The Worst Woman in Paris? (1933) as Adolphe Ballou
- Convention City (1933) as T.R. (Ted) Kent
- Easy to Love (1934) as John
- Journal of a Crime (1934) as Paul Moliet
- The Trumpet Blows (1934) as Pancho Montes / Pancho Gomez
- Little Miss Marker (1934) as Sorrowful Jones
- The Great Flirtation (1934) as Stephan Karpath
- The Human Side (1934) as Gregory Sheldon
- The Mighty Barnum (1934) as Bailey Walsh
- Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935) as Nicolai Nicoleff
- Broadway Gondolier (1935) as Professor Eduardo de Vinci
- The Milky Way (1936) as Gabby Sloan
- Sing, Baby, Sing (1936) as Bruce Farraday
- Wives Never Know (1936) as J. Hugh Ramsey
- One in a Million (1936) as Tad Spencer
- A Star Is Born (1937) as Oliver Niles
- Café Metropole (1937) as Monsieur Victor
- One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937) as John Cardwell
- Stage Door (1937) as Anthony Powell
- The Goldwyn Follies (1938) as Oliver Merlin
- Letter of Introduction (1938) as John Mannering
- Thanks for Everything (1938) as J. B. Harcourt
- King of the Turf (1939) as Jim Mason
- Golden Boy (1939) as Tom Moody
- The Housekeeper's Daughter (1939) as Deakon Maxwell
- That's Right—You're Wrong (1939) as Stacey Delmore
- Turnabout (1940) as Phil Manning
- A Bill of Divorcement (1940) as Hilary Fairfield
- Road Show (1941) as Colonel Carleton Carroway
- Father Takes a Wife (1941) as Senior
- Roxie Hart (1942) as Billy Flynn
- Syncopation (1942) as George Latimer
- You Were Never Lovelier (1942) as Eduardo Acuña
- Hi Diddle Diddle (1943) as Col. Hector Phyffe
- Sweet Rosie O'Grady (1943) as Tom Moran
- Step Lively (1944) as Wagner
- Man Alive (1945) as Kismet
- Heartbeat (1946) as Ambassador
- The Bachelor's Daughters (1946) as Alexander Moody
- I'll Be Yours (1947) as J. Conrad Nelson
- Mr. District Attorney (1947) as Craig Warren
- The Hucksters (1947) as Mr. Kimberly
- State of the Union (1948) as Jim Conover
- My Dream Is Yours (1949) as Thomas Hutchins
- Dancing in the Dark (1949) as Melville Crossman
- To Please a Lady (1950) as Gregg
- The Tall Target (1951) as Colonel Caleb Jeffers
- Across the Wide Missouri (1951) as Pierre
- The Sniper (1952) as Police Lt. Frank Kafka
- Man on a Tightrope (1953) as Fesker
- Timberjack (1955) as 'Sweetwater' Tilton
- The Ambassador's Daughter (1956) as Senator Jonathan Cartwright
- Bundle of Joy (1956) as J.B. Merlin
- The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown (1957) as Arthur Martin
- Paths of Glory (1957) as Major General Georges Broulard
- I Married a Woman (1958) as Frederick W. Sutton
- Pollyanna (1960) as Mr. Pendergast
|1946||Screen Guild Players||Experiment Perilous|
|1946||This Is Hollywood||The Bachelor's Daughters|
- Obituary Variety, October 30, 1963, page 71.
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- With Love, the Autobiography of Maurice Chevalier (Cassell, 1960), p. 191.
- Wilson, Victoria (2013). A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True, 1907–1940. New York City: Simon & Schuster. p. 266. ISBN 978-0684831688.
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- "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, ...
- Resting Places
- "Adolphe Menjou - Hollywood Walk of Fame". Walkoffame.com. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
- Rob White; Edward Buscombe (2003). British Film Institute Film Classics. Taylor & Francis. p. 120. ISBN 978-1-57958-328-6.
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- Lewis, Mary Beth. "Ten Best First Facts", in Car and Driver, 1/88, p.92.
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- "New Star". Harrisburg Telegraph. November 16, 1946. p. 17. Retrieved September 14, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
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