February 8, 1915
|Died||September 13, 1997 (aged 82)
Mougins (Alpes-Maritimes), France
Georges Guétary, born Lambros Vorloou (Greek: Λάμπρος Βορλόου Lambros Vorloou [ˈlambros vorˈlou]; February 8, 1915 – September 13, 1997) was a French singer, dancer, cabaret performer and film actor, best known for his role in the 1951 musical An American in Paris.
Early life and career
Guétary was born in Alexandria, Egypt, to Greek parents. His father was a textile executive. He studied music in Egypt and in Paris, and made his stage debut in 1937. He performed as a singer and dancer with the famed chanteuse Mistinguett at the Casino de Paris.
The British newspaper The Independent said at the time of his death that "part of Guétary's exotic charm, and much of his stage persona as a 'Latin lover' with a voice of Creme Chantilly resided in his mischievous innocence combined with an erotic mystery inherent in his ancestry."
He changed his name during World War II, to forestall scrutiny from officials who were deporting foreigners to concentration camps. Guétary became a French citizen in 1950.
After the war, Guétary appeared on stage in London and New York. He received critical praise for his performance in London opposite Lizbeth Webb in the 1947 operetta Bless the Bride, which ran for nearly a thousand performances.
January 5, 1949, Georges Guétary recorded the first version of the song Maître Pierre. This song composed by Henri Betti with the lyrics by Jacques Plante would be a great success performed by many singers and accordionists.
An American in Paris and afterwards
Guétary was best known in the United States for his role as Henri Baurel in An American in Paris, in which he plays a friend, and unknowing romantic rival, of the American painter Jerry Mulligan, played by Gene Kelly. In the film, Guétary plays an aging cabaret performer who is in love with a young girl played by Leslie Caron. She falls in love with Mulligan.
Kelly was nearly three years older than Guétary, and the role was originally intended for the much older Maurice Chevalier, who turned down the part. Kelly's biographer, Clive Hirschhorn, said that Kelly recruited Guétary for the part even though he knew that Guétary was too young. In its review, however, Variety said that Guétary was "cast neatly as the older man."
In the film, Guétary is noted for a solo number in which he strides up a stairway singing George Gershwin's Stairway to Paradise. He also appeared with Kelly in a rendition of Gershwin's 'S Wonderful in which both sing, without the other knowing it, about their love for Caron. At the end of the film, the object of their affection, Caron, chooses to go with Kelly despite her affection for Guétary.
Guétary returned to the stage and to French films following his appearance in American in Paris. In 1958 he appeared on Broadway in the musical Portofino. New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson said he was "the kissingest philanderer the season has produced."
Guétary was married to Janine Guyon, a producer in French television. They had two children.
- Monsieur Hector (1940)
- Le cavalier noir (1945)
- An American in Paris (1951)
- Paris Still Sings (1951)
- Love Is Just a Fairytale (1955)
- Kirkup, James (1997-09-20). "Obituary: Georges Guetary". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-07-22.
- Van Gelder, Lawrence (1997-09-20). "Georges Guetary, 82, Suave French Singer, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-22.
- "An American in Paris". Variety. 1951-08-29. Retrieved 2009-07-22.
- "Eugene Curran Kelly was born on Aug. 23, 1912, in Pittsburgh." Krebs, Albin (1996-02-03). "Gene Kelly, Dancer of Vigor and Grace, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-22.
- Hirschhorn, Clive (1984). Gene Kelly: a biography. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 198. ISBN 978-0-312-31802-4.