Eddie Constantine

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Eddie Constantine
Eddie Constantine (1972).jpg
Constantine in 1972
Israël Constantine

(1917-10-29)29 October 1917
Died25 February 1993(1993-02-25) (aged 75)
Wiesbaden, Germany
  • Actor
  • Singer
Years active1936–1993
Helene Musil
(m. 1942; div. 1976)
Dorothea Gibson
(m. 1977; div. 1977)
Maya Faber-Jansen
(m. 1979)

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

He became well known for a series of French B movies in which he played secret agent Lemmy Caution. He may be 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 seventies. His final appearance as the character was in Jean-Luc Godard's Germany Year 90 Nine Zero (1991).


Israël Constantine[2][3] was born in Los Angeles to Jewish immigrant parents, a Russian father and Polish mother; his father was a jeweler. In pursuit of a singing career, he went to Vienna for voice training. However, when he returned to the United States, his career failed to take off, and he started taking work as a film extra.[4] Having failed to make a career in the United States, Constantine returned to Europe in the early 1950s and started singing and performing in Paris 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 and so he has songwriting credits on the English versions of some of her most famous songs (especially "Hymne à l'amour"/"Hymn to Love").[5]

Eddie Constantine at the airport in Copenhagen, 1958

In the 1950s Constantine was a star in France because of 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), This Man Is Dangerous, Ça va barder (1953), Je suis un sentimental (1955), Lemmy pour les dames (1961) and Your Turn, Darling (1963).

When not playing Lemmy Caution, Constantine would have a character that was still typically be a suave-talking, seductive, smooth guy although he often played that for laughs. He turned his accent and perceived American cockiness to advantage in such roles, and he later described his film persona as having been "James Bond before James Bond".[6] One of his best remembered later roles was as the visiting Mafia boss Charlie in the British gangster film The Long Good Friday (1980).

One of his most notable roles was in Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville (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 television dramas as well as film. Constantine later claimed that he had never taken his acting career seriously, as he considered himself to be a singer by trade, and that had been an actor strictly for the money.[6] In 1982 he appeared in Rosa von Praunheim's film Red Love. He nevertheless worked with directors including 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 that year, in Godard's experimental film Germany Year 90 Nine Zero.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Eddie Constantine in the 1990s

Constantine was married three times: to Helene Musil (1942-1976, divorced), with whom he had three children; Dorothea Gibson (1977, divorced); and the film producer Maya Faber-Jansen (1979–1993, Constantine's death), with whom he had one child.[4] His daughter Tanya Constantine, born in 1943, is a photographer. His daughter Barbara Constantine, born in 1955, is a writer. His son Lemmy Constantine, born in 1957, is also a singer and actor. His daughter Mia Constantine, born in 1981, is a theater director.


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
This Man Is Dangerous Jean Sacha
1954 The Women Couldn't Care Less Bernard Borderie
Avanzi di galera [it] Vittorio Cottafavi Franco Cesari
Yours Truly, Blake Jean Laviron Larry Blake
1955 Ça va barder [fr] John Berry Johnny Jordan
Je suis un sentimental John Berry Barney Morgan
Vous pigez ? [fr] Pierre Chevalier Lemmy Caution
1956 Ce soir les jupons volent [fr] Dimitri Kirsanoff Monsieur Howard Uncredited
Folies-Bergère [fr] Henri Decoin Bob Wellington
L'Homme et l'Enfant [fr] Raoul André Fred Barker
Bonsoir Paris, bonjour l'amour [fr] Ralph Baum cameo appearance
1957 Et par ici la sortie Willy Rozier Eddie Uncredited
Le Grand Bluff [fr] Patrice Dally [fr] Eddie F. Morgan
Ces dames préfèrent le mambo Bernard Borderie Burt Brickford
Les Truands Carlo Rim Jim Esposito
1958 Incognito [fr] Patrice Dally [fr] Bob Stanley
Hoppla, jetzt kommt Eddie [de] Werner Klingler Eddie Petersen
Passport to Shame Alvin Rakoff Johnny McVey
1959 Du rififi chez les femmes Alex Joffé Interpol Agent Williams
The Treasure of San Teresa (Hot Money Girl) Alvin Rakoff Larry Brennan
SOS Pacific Guy Green Mark Reisner
1960 Bombs on Monte Carlo Georg Jacoby Captain Eddie Cronen
Women Are Like That Bernard Borderie Lemmy Caution
Jack of Spades Yves Allégret Patrick
Ravishing Robert Lamoureux cameo appearance Uncredited
Ça va être ta fête [fr] Pierre Montazel John Lewis / John Jarvis
1961 Me faire ça à moi [fr] Pierre Grimblat [fr] Eddie MacAvoy
Destination Fury Giorgio Bianchi Felice Esposito
Cause toujours, mon lapin [fr] Guy Lefranc Jackson
1962 Une grosse tête [fr] Claude de Givray Napoléon "Naps" Dubois
The Seven Deadly Sins Jean-Luc Godard cameo appearance (segment "La paresse")
Lemmy pour les dames Bernard Borderie Lemmy Caution
Cléo from 5 to 7 Agnès Varda cameo appearance Uncredited
Lykke og krone Colbjørn Helander [no] and Stein Saelen cameo appearance
Bonne chance, Charlie Jean-Louis Richard Charlie
L'Empire de la nuit [fr] Pierre Grimblat [fr] Eddie
Nous irons à Deauville Francis Rigaud [fr] Friend of Pin-Up Girl Uncredited
1963 Jeff Gordon, Secret Agent Raoul André Jeff Gordon
Les Femmes d'abord [fr] Raoul André Bobby Carao
Tela de araña José Luis Monter Eddie Ross
Your Turn, Darling Bernard Borderie Lemmy Caution
1964 Die ganze Welt ist himmelblau [de] Franz Antel Himself
How Do You Like My Sister? Michel Boisrond Himself
Laissez tirer les tireurs [fr] Guy Lefranc Jeff Gordon
Nick Carter va tout casser Henri Decoin Nick Carter
Lucky Jo Michel Deville Lucky Jo
1965 Ces dames s'en mêlent Raoul André Jeff Gordon
Faites vos jeux, mesdames [fr] Marcel Ophuls Mike Warner
Cent briques et des tuiles Pierre Grimblat [fr] Le consommateur au bar
Alphaville Jean-Luc Godard Lemmy Caution
Je vous salue, mafia! Raoul Lévy Rudy Hamberg
Nick Carter and Red Club Jean-Paul Savignac [fr] Nick Carter
1966 Cartas boca arriba [fr] (Attack Of The Robots) Jesus Franco Al Pereira
Residencia para espías [it] (Residence for Spies) Jesus Franco Dan Leyton
1968 Ces messieurs de la famille [fr] Raoul André Cousin Lemmy
À tout casser John Berry Ric
1969 Les Gros Malins [fr] Raymond Leboursier Eddie
Lions Love Agnès Varda Himself
1970 Malatesta Peter Lilienthal Malatesta TV movie
Eine Rose für Jane Hans W. Geißendörfer Boss TV movie
1971 Supergirl – Das Mädchen von den Sternen Rudolf Thome Partygast bei Polonsky TV movie
Beware of a Holy Whore Rainer Werner Fassbinder Himself
Haytabo (Eddie geht weiter) Ulli Lommel the professor
1973 Geen paniek Ko Koedijk Bill Silkstocking
World on a Wire Rainer Werner Fassbinder Man in car TV serial
1974 Une baleine qui avait mal aux dents [fr] Jacques Bral Eddie
1975 Souvenir of Gibraltar Henri Xhonneux Father Jo
Der zweite Frühling [de] Ulli Lommel Frank Cabot
1976 Raid on Entebbe Irvin Kershner Capt. Michel Bacos TV movie
1977 Bloedverwanten Wim Lindner Priest
Le Couple témoin William Klein Dr. Goldberg
1978 It Lives Again Larry Cohen Dr. Forrest
1979 The Third Generation Rainer Werner Fassbinder Peter Lurz
Ticket of No Return (Bildnis einer Trinkerin) Ulrike Ottinger Küstler
1980 Exit... nur keine Panik Franz Novotny Poigrard
Panic Time Udo Lindenberg Lemmy Caution
Car-napping Wigbert Wicker police officer Laroux
The Long Good Friday John Mackenzie Charlie
1981 Die Alptraumfrau Lothar Lambert
Tango durch Deutschland Lutz Mommartz Eddie
Neige Juliet Berto et Jean-Henri Roger Pierrot
Freak Orlando Ulrike Ottinger Säulenheiliger
1982 Red Love Rosa von Praunheim Pawel Pawlowitsch
Boxoffice Josef Bogdanovitch Hugh Barren
1983 Der Schnüffler [de] Ottokar Runze Gregori Ustinov
La Bête noire [fr] Patrick Chaput the bar proprietor
Das Mikado-Projekt Torsten Emrich Lemmy Caution
1984 Rambo Zambo Reinhard Donga Harry TV movie
Fluchtpunkt Berlin Christopher Petit Himself
Uno scugnizzo a New York [it] Mariano Laurenti Sammy
Tiger – Frühling in Wien [de] Peter Patzak Lemmy Caution
Seifenblasen Alfred Ninaus
1985 Seifenblasen Alfred Ninaus [de] cameo appearance
Paul Chevrolet en de ultieme hallucinatie [nl] Pim de la Parra Boy Pappa
1986 Makaroni Blues [no] Bela Csepesanyi Lemmy Caution
Roncalli Michael Mackenroth Pablo TV Series
1987 Frankenstein's Aunt Juraj Jakubisko Alois - Water Spirit TV Series, 7 episodes
Freckled Max and the Spooks Juraj Jakubisko Alojz
Helsinki Napoli All Night Long Mika Kaurismäki Old Gangster
1989 Le retour de Lemmy Caution Josée Dayan Lemmy Caution TV movie
Europa, abends Claudia Schröder Mr. Hardayle
1991 Europa Lars von Trier Colonel Harris
Germany Year 90 Nine Zero Jean-Luc Godard Lemmy Caution
Tokyo no kyujitsu [ja] Naoki Nagao William Wright
1993 Three Shake-a-leg Steps to Heaven [lb] Andy Bausch Don Fabrizzi


  1. ^ "Eddie Constantine (obituary)". Variety. 5 March 1993. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  2. ^ Azzopardi, Michel (1997). Le temps des vamps: 1915-1965. L'Harmattan. ISBN 978-2-7384-4866-8.
  3. ^ McKinney, Mark (2008). History and politics in French language comics and graphic novels. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1-60473-004-3.
  4. ^ a b c IMDB entry for Eddie Constantine, archived from the original on 11 June 2011, retrieved 20 July 2010
  5. ^ DISCOGS entry for La Vie En Rose / Édith Piaf Sings In English, retrieved 20 July 2010
  6. ^ a b Eddie Constantine biography at cinemapassion.com

External links[edit]