Louis de Funès
|Louis de Funès|
Louis de Funès during the filming of The Gendarme and the Extra-Terrestrials, in 1978.
|Born||Louis Germain David de Funès de Galarza
31 July 1914
|Died||27 January 1983
|Cause of death||heart attack|
|Occupation||actor, comedien, musician|
|Height||5 ft 4 1⁄2 in (1.64 m)|
|Spouse(s)||Germaine Louise Elodie Carroyer
(m. 1936; div. 1942)
Jeanne Barthelémy de Maupassant
(m. 1943; 1983)
|Awards||Grand prix du rire, 1957, Comme un cheveu sur la soupe
Victoire du cinéma, 1965
Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur, 1973
César d’honneur, 1980
Louis Germain David de Funès de Galarza (French pronunciation: [lwi də fy.nɛs]; 31 July 1914 – 27 January 1983) was a popular French actor and one of the giants of French comedy alongside Bourvil and Fernandel. His acting style is remembered for its high energy performance, wide range of facial expressions and exclamations, and exaggerated impatience, haughtiness and selfishness. A considerable part of his best known acting was directed by Jean Girault, and with whom he wrote and directed the French classic L'Avare (1980), in which de Funès also starred.
He was (and often still is) a household name in several European countries (Greece, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Poland, Bulgaria, GDR Germany, Spain, Turkey, Albania, Romania, USSR, Iran and Yugoslavia in particular) for many years, yet remained almost unknown in the Anglosphere. He was exposed to a wider audience only once in the United States, in 1974, with the release of The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob, which was nominated for a Golden Globe. According to a 1968 poll, he was France's favourite actor – having played over 130 roles in film and over 100 on stage.
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Louis de Funès was born on 31 July 1914 in Courbevoie, Hauts-de-Seine to parents who hailed from Seville, Spain. Since the couple's families opposed their marriage, they eloped to France in 1904. His father, Carlos Luis de Funès de Galarza, a nobleman whose mother descended from the marquesses de Galarza, had been a lawyer in Spain, but became a diamond cutter upon arriving in France. His mother, Leonor Soto Reguera, was of Galician extraction, daughter to Galician lawyer Teolindo Soto Barro.
Known to friends and intimates as "Fufu", de Funès spoke French, Spanish and English well. During his youth, he was fond of drawing and playing the piano. He was an alumnus of the lycée Condorcet in Paris, a distinction he shared with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Valéry, Paul Verlaine, Marcel Proust, Jean Cocteau, Serge Gainsbourg, and Claude Lévi-Strauss, amongst others. He later dropped out, and his early life was rather inconspicuous; as a youth and young adult, de Funès held menial jobs, from which he was repeatedly fired. He became a bar pianist, working mostly as a jazz pianist in Pigalle, Paris, where he made his customers laugh each time he made a grimace. He studied acting for one year at the Simon acting school, where he made some useful contacts, including with Daniel Gélin, among others. In 1936, he married Germaine Louise Elodie Carroyer, with whom he had one child: a son named Daniel; the couple were divorced in late 1942.
During the occupation of Paris in the Second World War, he continued his piano studies at a music school, where he fell in love with a secretary, Jeanne Barthelémy de Maupassant, (no relationship with de Maupassant). She had fallen in love with "the young man who played jazz like god"; they married in 1943 and remained together for forty years, until de Funès' death in 1983. They had two sons: Patrick (born on 27 January 1944), who became a doctor; and Olivier (born on 11 August 1949), who became a pilot for Air France Europe and also followed his father in the acting profession. He became known for the roles he played in some of his father's films (Les Grandes Vacances, Fantômas se déchaine, Le Grand Restaurant, and Hibernatus are the most famous).
Through the early 1940s, de Funès continued playing piano in clubs, thinking there was not much call for a short, balding, skinny actor. His wife and Daniel Gélin encouraged him until he managed to overcome his fear of rejection. His wife supported him in the most difficult moments, and helped him to manage his career efficiently.
Louis de Funès began his show business career in the theatre, where he enjoyed moderate success and also played small roles in films. Even after he attained the status of a movie star, he continued to play theatre roles. His stage career culminated in a magnificent performance in the play Oscar, a role which he would reprise a few years later in the film adaptation.
In 1945, thanks to his contact with Daniel Gélin, de Funès made his film debut at the age of 31 with a bit part in Jean Stelli's La Tentation de Barbizon. He appears on screen for less than 40 seconds in the role of the porter of the cabaret Le Paradis, welcoming the character played by Jérôme Chambon in the entrance hall and pointing him to the double doors leading to the main room, saying: "C'est par ici, Monsieur" ("This way please, Sir"). Chambon declines the invitation, pushing the door himself instead of pulling it open. De Funès then says: "Ben, il a son compte celui-là, aujourd'hui!" ("Well that one's had enough, today!").
He went on to perform in 130 film roles over the next 20 years, playing minor roles in over 80 films before being offered his first leading roles. During this period, de Funès developed a daily routine of professional activities: in the morning he did dubbing for recognized artists such as Totò, an Italian comic of the time; during the afternoon he worked in film; and in the evening, he performed as a theatre actor.
From 1945 to 1955, he appeared in 50 films, usually as an extra or walk-on. In 1954, he went on to star in such films as Ah! Les belles bacchantes and Le Mouton à cinq pattes. A break came in 1956, when he appeared as the black-market pork butcher Jambier (another small role) in Claude Autant-Lara's well-known World War II comedy, La Traversée de Paris. He achieved stardom in 1963 with Jean Girault's film, Pouic-Pouic. This successful film guaranteed de Funès top billing in all of his subsequent films. At the age of 49, de Funès unexpectedly became a major star of international renown with the success of Le gendarme de Saint-Tropez. After their first successful collaboration, director Jean Girault perceived de Funès as the ideal actor to play the part of the scheming, opportunistic and sycophant gendarme; the first film therefore lead to a series of six.
Another collaboration with director Gérard Oury produced a memorable tandem of de Funès with Bourvil—another great comic actor—in the 1964 film, Le Corniaud. The success of the de Funès-Bourvil partnership was repeated two years later in La Grande Vadrouille, one of the most successful and the largest grossing film ever made in France, drawing an audience of 17.27 million. It remains his greatest success. Oury envisaged a further reunion of the two comics in his film La Folie des grandeurs, but Bourvil's death in 1970 led to the unlikely pairing of de Funès with Yves Montand in that film.
Eventually he became France's leading comic actor. Between 1964 and 1979, he topped France's box-office of the year's most successful movies seven times.
He co-starred with many of the major French actors of his time, including Jean Marais and Mylène Demongeot in the Fantomas trilogy, and also Jean Gabin, Fernandel, Coluche, Annie Girardot, and Yves Montand. He also worked with Jean Girault in the famous 'Gendarmes' series. In a departure from the Gendarme image, de Funès collaborated with Claude Zidi, who wrote for him a new character full of nuances and frankness in L'aile ou la cuisse (1976), which is arguably the best of his roles. Later, de Funès' considerable musical abilities were showcased in films such as Le Corniaud and Le Grand Restaurant. In 1964, he debuted in the first of the Fantômas series, which launched him into superstardom.
In 1975, Oury turned again to de Funès for a film entitled Le Crocodile', in which he was to play the role of a South American dictator. But in March 1975, de Funès was hospitalized for heart problems and forced to take a rest from acting, causing Le Crocodile to be cancelled. After his recovery, he appeared opposite another comic genius, Coluche, in L'Aile ou la cuisse. In 1980, de Funès realised a long-standing dream to make a film version of Molière's play, L'Avare.
Louis de Funès made his final film, Le Gendarme et les gendarmettes in 1982.
Unlike the characters he played, de Funès was said to be a very shy person in real life. Capable of an extremely rich and rapidly changing range of facial expressions, de Funès was nicknamed "the man with forty faces per minute." In many of his films, he played the role of a humorously excitable, cranky, middle-aged or mature man with a propensity for hyperactivity, bad faith, and uncontrolled fits of anger. Along with his short height – he measured 1.64 m (5 ft 4 1⁄2 in) – and his facial contortions, this hyperactivity produced a highly comic effect. This was particularly visible when he was paired with Bourvil, who was always given roles of calm, slightly naive, good-humoured men. In de Funès' successful lead role in a cinematic version of Molière's The Miser (L'Avare), these characteristics are greatly muted, percolating just beneath the surface.
Later years and death
In the later part of his life, de Funès achieved great prosperity and success. He became a knight of France's Légion d'honneur in 1973. He resided in the Château de Clermont, a 17th-century castle located in the commune of Le Cellier, which is situated 27 kilometers (17 mi) from Nantes in the West of France. This castle, overlooking the Loire River, was inherited by his wife, whose aunt had married a descendant of Maupassant. De Funès was an aficionado of roses. He planted a rose garden on the château grounds and a variety of rose has been named for him (the Louis de Funès rose). A monument honoring him was erected in the rose garden of his wife's castle.
In his later years, he suffered from a heart condition after having suffered a heart attack caused by straining himself too much with his stage antics. Louis de Funès died of a heart attack on 27 January 1983, a few months after making his final film. He was laid to rest in the Cimetière du Cellier, the cemetery situated in the grounds of the château.
De Funès' legacy
Louis de Funès was portrayed on a postage stamp issued on 3 October 1998 by the French post office. He was portrayed as a gambler in "The One-Armed Bandit" issue of the cult comic book series Lucky Luke. In 2013, a museum dedicated to de Funès was created in Château de Clermont.
|1945||La Tentation de Barbizon||Le portier du paradis||Jean Stelli||Uncredited|
|1947||Six heures à perdre||the driver||Alex Joffé and Jean Lévitte|
|Le Château de la dernière chance||Bar Patron Hugging Yolande||Jean-Paul Paulin||Uncredited|
|Dernier refuge||the driver||Alex Joffé|
|Antoine et Antoinette||Un garçon épicier / Un invité à la noce||Jacques Becker||Uncredited|
|1948||Croisière pour l'inconnu||Le cuisinier||Pierre Montazel||Uncredited|
|1949||Du Guesclin||L'astrologue / Aymérigot Marches / un seigneur / un mendiant||Bernard de Latour|
|Mission à Tanger||Le colonel espagnol||André Hunebelle|
|Je n'aime que toi||the orchestra's pianist||Pierre Montazel|
|Vient de paraître||Jacques Houssin||Uncredited|
|Millionnaires d'un jour||Philippe's solicitor||André Hunebelle|
|1950||Au revoir M. Grock||a spectator||Pierre Billon||Uncredited|
|Pas de week-end pour notre amour||Constantin, domestique du baron||Pierre Montazel|
|Mon ami Sainfoin||the guide||Paul-Adrien Schaye|
|Un certain monsieur||Thomas Boudeboeuf||Yves Ciampi|
|Rendez-vous avec la chance||the waiter||Emil-Edwin Reinert|
|Adémaï au poteau-frontière||Soldier||Paul Colline||Uncredited|
|Father's Dilemma||Un prete||Alessandro Blasetti|
|His Last Twelve Hours||Nicolas||Luigi Zampa||Uncredited|
|Quai de Grenelle||Monsieur Vincent - le quincailler||Emil E. Reinert||Uncredited|
|Le roi du bla bla bla||Gino||Maurice Labro|
|Fugitive from Montreal||Jean Devaivre|
|La rue sans loi||Hippolyte||Marcel Gibaud|
|Les joueurs||Piotr Petrovitch Spotniev||Claude Barma||TV Movie|
|1951||Bibi Fricotin||Le pêcheur||Marcel Blistène|
|Folie douce||Jean-Paul Paulin|
|L'amant de paille||Bruno||Gilles Grangier|
|...Sans laisser d'adresse||a father-to-be in the hospital||Jean-Paul Le Chanois|
|La rose rouge||Manito||Marcello Pagliero|
|Dr. Knock||Le malade qui a perdu 100 grammes||Guy Lefranc||Uncredited|
|Boniface somnambule||Anatole||Maurice Labro|
|La passante||the lockmaster||Henri Calef|
|La vie est un jeu||Un voleur||Raymond Leboursier|
|Ils étaient cinq||Albert||Jack Pinoteau|
|Le Voyage en Amérique||un employee of Air France||Henri Lavorel|
|Pas de vacances pour Monsieur le Maire||the adviser||Maurice Labro|
|Le Dindon||the manager||Claude Barma|
|La poison||André Chevillard||Sacha Guitry|
|Ma femme est formidable||a skier||André Hunebelle|
|Un amour de parapluie||Jean Laviron||Short, Uncredited|
|Champions Juniors||Pierre Blondy||Short, Uncredited|
|Boîte à vendre||Claude André Lalande||Short, Uncredited|
|1952||Les loups chassent la nuit||Waiter||Bernard Borderie||Uncredited|
|The Seven Deadly Sins||Martin Gaston, le Français||Yves Allégret||(segment "Paresse, La / Sloth")|
|Monsieur Leguignon Lampiste||Un habitant du quartier||Maurice Labro|
|Agence matrimoniale||Charles||Jean-Paul Le Chanois|
|Love Is Not a Sin||Monsieur Cottin||Claude Cariven|
|Le jugement de Dieu||an employee||Raymond Bernard||Uncredited|
|Je l'ai été trois fois||the sultan's interpreter||Sacha Guitry|
|Monsieur Taxi||Le peintre qui voit rouge||André Hunebelle|
|La Putain respectueuse||the night club visitor||Charles Brabant|
|She and Me||the waiter||Guy Lefranc|
|La Fugue de Monsieur Perle||Le fou qui pêche dans un lavabo||Pierre Gaspard-Huit|
|Le Huitième Art et la Manière||Le mari fan de radio||Maurice Regamey||Short|
|La jungle en folie||Claude André Lalande|
|1953||Le rire||Himself||Maurice Regamey|
|Tambour battant||Le maître d'armes||Georges Combret|
|La Vie d'un honnête homme||Émile||Sacha Guitry|
|Les Dents longues||an employee||Daniel Gélin|
|Au diable la vertu||Monsieur Lorette||Jean Laviron|
|The Tour of the Grand Dukes||Le directeur de l'hôtel||André Pellenc|
|The Sparrows of Paris||Doctor||Maurice Cloche|
|Les Compagnes de la nuit||Client||Ralph Habib||Uncredited|
|Innocents in Paris||Célestin||Gordon Parry|
|Capitaine Pantoufle||Monsieur Rachoux||Guy Lefranc|
|Dortoir des grandes||Monsieur Triboudot||Henri Decoin|
|Légère et court vêtue||Paul Duvernois||Jean Laviron|
|Mon frangin du Sénégal||Doctor||Guy Lacourt|
|Le Chevalier de la nuit||Adrien Péréduray||Robert Darène|
|1954||Huis clos||Jacqueline Audry|
|L'Étrange Désir de monsieur Bard||Monsieur Chanteau||Géza von Radványi|
|Le Blé en herbe||Le forain||Claude Autant-Lara|
|Les Intrigantes||Monsieur Marcange||Henri Decoin|
|Mam'zelle Nitouche||Un maréchal des logis||Yves Allégret|
|Tourments||Eddy Gorlier||Jacques Daniel-Norman|
|Le Secret d'Hélène Marimon||Le jardinier Ravan||Henri Calef|
|Faites-moi confiance||Tumlatum||Gilles Grangier|
|Les corsaires du Bois de Boulogne||Le commissaire||Norbert Carbonnaux|
|Les hommes ne pensent qu'à ça||Monsieur Célosso||Yves Robert|
|The Sheep Has Five Legs||Pilate||Henri Verneuil|
|Poisson d'avril||Le garde-champêtre||Gilles Grangier|
|Escalier de service||Cesare Grimaldi||Carlo Rim|
|Scènes de ménage||Monsieur Boulingrin||André Berthomieu|
|Ah! Les belles bacchantes||Michel Lebœuf||Jean Loubignac|
|Les Impures||Le chef de train||Pierre Chevalier||Uncredited|
|La Reine Margot||René Bianchi||Jean Dréville||Uncredited|
|Papa, maman, ma femme et moi||Monsieur Calomel||Jean-Paul Le Chanois|
|1955||Ingrid - Die Geschichte eines Fotomodells||D'Arrigio||Géza von Radványi|
|Les pépées font la loi||Jeannot la Bonne Affaire||Raoul André|
|Napoléon||Soldier Laurent Passementier||Sacha Guitry||Uncredited|
|Frou-Frou||Colonel Cousinet-Duval||Augusto Genina|
|L'impossible Monsieur Pipelet||Uncle Robert||André Hunebelle|
|Les Hussards||Luigi||Alex Joffé|
|Mädchen ohne Grenzen||Géza von Radványi|
|1956||Si Paris nous était conté||Antoine Allègre||Sacha Guitry|
|Bonjour sourire||Monsieur Bonoeil||Claude Sautet|
|La Bande à papa||L'inspecteur Victor Eugène Merlerin||Guy Lefranc|
|La Loi des rues||Paulo - les Chiens||Ralph Habib|
|Bébés à gogo||Monsieur Célestin Ratier||Paul Mesnier|
|Courte tête||Prosper / Père Grazziani / Colonel Luc de la Frapinière / Le premier garçon de Turbolaria||Norbert Carbonnaux|
|La Traversée de Paris||Jambier||Claude Autant-Lara|
|1957||Comme un cheveu sur la soupe||Pierre Cousin||Maurice Regamey|
|1958||Ni vu, ni connu||Léon Blaireau||Yves Robert|
|La Vie à deux||Maître Stéphane, le notaire||Clément Duhour|
|Taxi, Roulotte et Corrida||Maurice Berger||André Hunebelle|
|1959||Totò à Madrid||Prof. Francisco Montiel||Stefano Vanzina|
|I Tartassati||Hector "Ettore" Curto||Stefano Vanzina|
|Mon pote le gitan||Monsieur Védrines||François Gir|
|1960||Certains l'aiment froide||Ange Galopin||Jean Bastia|
|Candide ou l'optimisme au XXe siècle||Gestapo officer||Norbert Carbonnaux|
|Les Tortillards||Emile Durand||Jean Bastia|
|1961||Captain Fracasse||Scapin||Pierre Gaspard-Huit|
|La Belle Américaine||Viralot||Robert Dhéry|
|Dans l'eau qui fait des bulles||Paul Ernzer||Maurice Delbez|
|1962||Les Sept péchés capitaux||(several)|
|La Vendetta||Valentino Amoretti||Jean Chérasse|
|Le Crime ne paie pas||Le barman du 'Blue Bar'||Gérard Oury||(segment "L'homme de l'avenue")|
|Le Diable et les Dix Commandements||Antoine Vaillant||Julien Duvivier||(segment "Bien d'autrui ne prendras")|
|Le Gentleman d'Epsom||Gaspard Ripeux||Gilles Grangier|
|Un clair de lune à Maubeuge||Jean Chérasse||Uncredited|
|Nous Irons A Deauville||Ludovic Lambersac||Francis Rigaud|
|1963||Les Veinards||Antoine Beaurepaire||Philippe de Broca and Jean Girault||(segment "Un gros lot")|
|Carambolages||Norbert Charolais||Marcel Bluwal|
|Pouic-Pouic||Léonard Monestier||Jean Girault|
|1964||Let's Rob the Bank||Victor Garnier||Jean Girault|
|Des pissenlits par la racine||Jack||Georges Lautner|
|Une souris chez les hommes||Marcel Ravelais||Jacques Poitrenaud|
This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- Louis de Funès called Stelli Ma Chance ("My Luck") whenever they were together (Louis de Funès : Jusqu’au bout du rire, p. 43.).
- "La Tentation de Barbizon". Le cinema de Louis. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
- Mémoires d'éléphant (Paris 1988), p. 250.