Louis de Funès

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Louis de Funès
Louis de Funès — Le Gendarme et les Extra-terrestres.jpg
Louis de Funès during the filming of The Gendarme and the Extra-Terrestrials, in 1978.
Born Louis Germain David de Funès de Galarza
(1914-07-31)31 July 1914
Courbevoie, France
Died 27 January 1983(1983-01-27) (aged 68)
Nantes, France
Cause of death heart attack
Nationality French
Other names Fufu
Occupation actor, comedien, musician
Years active 1945–1982
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)
Children Daniel
Patrick
Olivier
Awards Grand prix du rire, 1957, Comme un cheveu sur la soupe
Victoire du cinéma, 1965
Legion Honneur Chevalier ribbon.svg Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur, 1973
César d’honneur, 1980

Louis Germain David de Funès de Galarza (French pronunciation: ​[lwi də fy.nɛs];[1] 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.[2]

Biography[edit]

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.

Theatrical career[edit]

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.

Film career[edit]

Louis de Funès during the shooting of Le gendarme et les extra-terrestres

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.[3] 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!").[4]

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.[5] 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.

Louis de Funès on the set of L'homme orchestre, in 1970.

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.

Style[edit]

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 12 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[edit]

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.

The tomb of Louis de Funès

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[edit]

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.

Filmography[edit]

1945–1964
Year Title Role Director Notes
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
1964–1982
Year Title Role Director Co-starring Notes
1964 Le gendarme de Saint-Tropez Maréchal des logis-chef Ludovic Cruchot Jean Girault
Fantômas Commissioner Juve André Hunebelle Jean Marais, Mylène Demongeot
1965 Le Corniaud Léopold Saroyan Gérard Oury Bourvil
Les Bons Vivants Léon Haudepin Gilles Grangier and Georges Lautner Mireille Darc (segment "Bons vivants, Les")
Le gendarme à New York Maréchal des logis-chef Ludovic Cruchot Jean Girault
Fantômas se déchaîne Commissioner Juve André Hunebelle Jean Marais, Mylène Demongeot
1966 Le Grand Restaurant Monsieur Septime Jacques Besnard
La Grande Vadrouille Stanislas Lefort Gérard Oury Bourvil, Terry-Thomas
1967 Fantômas contre Scotland Yard Commissioner Juve André Hunebelle Jean Marais, Mylène Demongeot
Oscar Bertrand Barnier Édouard Molinaro
Les grandes vacances Charles Bosquier Jean Girault
1968 Le Petit Baigneur Louis-Philippe Fourchaume Robert Dhéry
Le tatoué Félicien Mézeray Denys de La Patellière Jean Gabin
Le gendarme se marie Maréchal des Logis-chef Ludovic Cruchot Jean Girault
1969 Hibernatus Hubert Barrère de Tartas Édouard Molinaro
1970 L'homme orchestre Monsieur Edouard Serge Korber
Le gendarme en balade Maréchal des logis-chef Ludovic Cruchot Jean Girault
1971 Sur un arbre perché Henri Roubier Serge Korber Geraldine Chaplin
Jo Antoine Brisebard Jean Girault
La folie des grandeurs Don Salluste de Bazan Gérard Oury Yves Montand
1973 Les aventures de Rabbi Jacob Victor Pivert
1976 L'aile ou la cuisse Charles Duchemin Claude Zidi Coluche
1978 La Zizanie Guillaume Daubray-Lacaze Annie Girardot
1979 Le gendarme et les extra-terrestres Ludovic Cruchot Jean Girault
1980 L'avare Harpagon Louis de Funès and Jean Girault
1981 La Soupe aux choux Claude Ratinier Jean Girault
1982 Le gendarme et les gendarmettes Maréchal des Logis-chef Ludovic Cruchot Jean Girault et Tony Aboyantz (final film role)

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.forvo.com/word/louis_de_fun%C3%A8s/
  2. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000086/bio
  3. ^ Louis de Funès called Stelli Ma Chance ("My Luck") whenever they were together (Louis de Funès : Jusqu’au bout du rire, p. 43.).
  4. ^ "La Tentation de Barbizon". Le cinema de Louis. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 30 October 2016. 
  5. ^ Mémoires d'éléphant (Paris 1988), p. 250.

External links[edit]