Charles Boyer (French: [bwaje]; 28 August 1899 – 26 August 1978) was a French-American actor who appeared in more than 80 films between 1920 and 1976. After receiving an education in drama, Boyer started on the stage, but he found his success in American films during the 1930s. His memorable performances were among the era's most highly praised, in romantic dramas such as The Garden of Allah (1936), Algiers (1938), and Love Affair (1939), as well as the mystery-thriller Gaslight (1944). He received four Academy Award nominations for Best Actor.
Charles Boyer in 1942
|Died||26 August 1978 (aged 78)|
Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
|Cause of death||Severe secobarbital overdose|
|Burial place||Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California, U.S.|
|Spouse(s)||Pat Paterson (1934–1978; her death)|
|Children||Michael Charles Boyer (1943–1965)|
|Awards||Academy Honorary Award (1943)|
Boyer was born in Figeac, Lot, France, the son of Augustine Louise Durand and Maurice Boyer, a merchant. Boyer (which means "cowherd" in the Occitan language) was a shy, small town boy who discovered the movies and theatre at the age of eleven.
Early acting careerEdit
Boyer performed comic sketches for soldiers while working as a hospital orderly during World War I. He began studies briefly at the Sorbonne, and was waiting for a chance to study acting at the Paris Conservatory.
He went to the capital city to finish his education, but spent most of his time pursuing a theatrical career. In 1920, his quick memory won him a chance to replace the leading man in a stage production, Aux jardins de Murcie. He was successful. Then he appeared in a play La Bataille and Boyer became a theatre star overnight.
In the 1920s, he not only played a suave and sophisticated ladies' man on the stage but also appeared in several silent films.
Early French filmsEdit
At first, he performed film roles only for the money and found that supporting roles were unsatisfying. However, with the coming of sound, his deep voice made him a romantic star.
Early trips to HollywoodEdit
Then he did the English-language The Man from Yesterday (1932) with Claudette Colbert at Paramount again directed by Viertel. He had a choice small role in Jean Harlow's Red-Headed Woman (1932) at MGM.
Return to FranceEdit
Boyer went back to France where he starred in F.P.1 Doesn't Answer (1932), Moi et l'impératrice (1933), Les Amoureux (1933) (The Sparrowhawk), and La bataille (1933) with Anabella. The latter was also filmed in an English language version called The Battle with Merle Oberon replacing Anabella and Boyer reprising his role.
Back in Hollywood he was teamed with Marlene Dietrich in The Garden of Allah (1936) for David O. Selznick. He and Dietrich were reunited on I Loved a Soldier (1936) for director Henry Hathaway at Paramount but the film was abandoned.
Boyer paired with Jean Arthur in History Is Made at Night (1937) for Wanger, and Greta Garbo in Conquest (1937) at MGM (where he played Napoleon Bonaparte). Boyer's fee for the latter was $150,000 but with all the re-takes he wound up earning $450,000.
In 1938, he landed his famous role as Pepe le Moko, the thief on the run in Algiers, an English-language remake of the classic French film Pepe le Moko with Jean Gabin, produced by Wanger. Although in the movie Boyer never said to costar Hedy Lamarr "Come with me to the Casbah," this line was in the movie trailer. The line would stick with him, thanks to generations of impressionists and Looney Tunes parodies. Boyer's role as Pepe Le Moko was already world-famous when animator Chuck Jones based the character of Pepé Le Pew, the romantic skunk introduced in 1945's Odor-able Kitty, on Boyer and his most well-known performance. Boyer's vocal style was also parodied on the Tom and Jerry cartoons, most notably when Tom was trying to woo a female cat. (See The Zoot Cat).
World War TwoEdit
He went back to France to make Le corsaire (1939) for Marc Allegret. He was making the movie in Nice when France declared war on Germany in September 1939. Production ceased on the declaration of war. Boyer joined the French army. The film was never completed, although some footage of it was later released.
By November Boyer was discharged from the army and back in Hollywood as the French government thought he would be of more service making films.
Boyer played in three classic film love stories: All This, and Heaven Too (1940) with Bette Davis, directed by Litvak at Warners; as the ruthless cad in Back Street (1941) with Margaret Sullavan, at Universal; and Hold Back the Dawn (1941) with Olivia de Havilland and Paulette Goddard, at Paramount.
In contrast to his glamorous image, Boyer began losing his hair early, had a pronounced paunch, and was noticeably shorter than leading ladies like Ingrid Bergman. When Bette Davis first saw him on the set of All This, and Heaven Too, she did not recognize him and tried to have him removed.
In January 1942 Boyer signed a three-year contract with Universal to act and produce. The contract would cover nine films.
Boyer was reunited with Sullivan in Appointment for Love (1942) at Universal and was one of many stars in Tales of Manhattan (1942), directed by Julien Duvivier and Immortal France (1942). He became a US citizen in 1942.
In 1943, he was awarded an Honorary Oscar Certificate for "progressive cultural achievement" in establishing the French Research Foundation in Los Angeles as a source of reference (certificate).
Boyer had one of his biggest hits with Gaslight (1944) with Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten. He followed it with Together Again (1944) with Dunne; Congo (1944), a short; and Confidential Agent (1945) with Lauren Bacall, at Warners.
In 1947, he was the voice of Capt. Daniel Gregg in the Lux Radio Theater's presentation of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, played in the film by Rex Harrison. In 1948, he was made a chevalier of the French Légion d'honneur. That year he did a thriller A Woman's Vengeance (1948).
Another film he did with Bergman, Arch of Triumph (1948), failed at the box office and Boyer was no longer the box office star he had been. "If you are in a big flop, nobody wants you," he said later.
In 1951, he appeared on the Broadway stage in one of his most notable roles, that of Don Juan, in a dramatic reading of the third act of George Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman. This is the act popularly known as Don Juan in Hell. In 1952, he won Broadway's 1951 Special Tony Award for Don Juan in Hell. It was directed by actor Charles Laughton. Laughton co-starred as the Devil, with Cedric Hardwicke as the statue of the military commander slain by Don Juan, and Agnes Moorehead as Dona Anna, the commander's daughter, one of Juan's former conquests. The production was a critical success, and was subsequently recorded complete by Columbia Masterworks, one of the first complete recordings of a non-musical stage production ever made. As of 2006, however, it has never been released on CD, but in 2009 it became available as an MP3 download.
Boyer did not abandon cinema: he had leading roles in The 13th Letter (1951), The First Legion (1952), and The Happy Time (1952). He had a character role in Thunder in the East (filmed 1951, released 1953) an Alan Ladd film.
Four Star PlayhouseEdit
Boyer moved into television as one of the pioneering producers and stars of the anthology show Four Star Playhouse (1952–56). It was made by Four Star Productions which would make Boyer and partners David Niven and Dick Powell rich.
He returned to Broadway for Norman Krasna's Kind Sir (1953–54) directed by Joshua Logan which ran for 166 performances. (In the film version, Indiscreet (1958), Boyer's role was taken by Cary Grant.)
Back in Hollywood, Boyer had a support role in MGM's The Cobweb (1955).
On 17 March 1957, Boyer starred in an adaptation for TV of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, There Shall Be No Night, by Robert E. Sherwood. The performance starred Katharine Cornell, and was broadcast on NBC as part of the Hallmark Hall of Fame.
In France, Boyer was one of several stars in It Happened on the 36 Candles (1957) and he co-starred with Brigitte Bardot in La Parisienne (1957) and Michele Morgan in Maxime (1958), the latter directed by Henri Verneuil.
In Hollywood Boyer had a support role in The Buccaneer (1958).
Boyer co-starred again with Claudette Colbert in the Broadway comedy The Marriage-Go-Round (1958–1960), but said to the producer, "Keep that woman away from me". The production was a hit and ran for 431 performances. Boyer did not reprise his performance in the film version. He kept busy doing work for Four Star.
Onscreen, he continued in older roles: in Fanny (1961) starring Leslie Caron; Demons at Midnight (1961), in France, the lead; MGM's remake of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1962); Adorable Julia (1962) with Lili Palmer; several episodes of The Dick Powell Theatre; and Love Is a Ball (1963).
Boyer was reunited with Niven in The Rogues (1964–65).
He had good support roles in A Very Special Favor (1965) with Rock Hudson; How to Steal a Million (1966) with Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole; Barefoot in the Park (1967) with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. He had cameos in Is Paris Burning? (1966) and Casino Royale (1967) and was top billed in The Day the Hot Line Got Hot (1968).
His career had lasted longer than that of other romantic actors, winning him the nickname "the last of the cinema's great lovers." He recorded a laid-back album called Where Does Love Go in 1966. The album consisted of famous love songs sung (or rather spoken) with Boyer's distinctive deep voice and French accent. The record was reportedly Elvis Presley's favorite album for the last 11 years of his life, the one he most listened to.
Boyer's son had died in 1965 and Boyer was finding it traumatic to continue living in Los Angeles so in March 1970 he decided to relocate to Europe.
Boyer's final credits included the musical remake of Lost Horizon (1973) and the French film Stavisky (1974), starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, the latter winning him the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor, and also received the Special Tribute at Cannes Film Festival.
Boyer was the star of Hollywood Playhouse on NBC in the 1930s, but he left in 1939 "for war service in France," returning on the January 3, 1940, broadcast. When he went on vacation in the summer of 1940, an item in a trade publication reported: "It is an open secret that he doesn't like the present policy of a different story and characters each week. Boyer would prefer a program in which he could develop a permanent characterization." Boyer would later star in his own radio show entitled "Presenting Charles Boyer" during 1950 over NBC.
Personal life and deathEdit
Boyer become a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1942.
Boyer was the husband of British actress Pat Paterson, whom he met at a dinner party in 1934. The two became engaged after two weeks of courtship and were married three months later. Later, they would move from Hollywood to Paradise Valley, Arizona. The marriage lasted 44 years until her death.
Boyer's only child, Michael Charles Boyer (9 December 1943 – 21 September 1965), committed suicide at age 21. He was playing Russian roulette after separating from his girlfriend. On 26 August 1978, two days after his wife's death from cancer, and two days before his own 79th birthday, Boyer committed suicide with an overdose of Seconal while at a friend's home in Scottsdale. He was taken to the hospital in Phoenix, where he died. He was interred in Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California, alongside his wife and son.
Boyer never won an Oscar, though he was nominated for Best Actor four times in Conquest (1937), Algiers (1938), Gaslight (1944) and Fanny (1961), the latter also winning him a nomination for the Laurel Awards for Top Male Dramatic Performance. He is particularly well known for Gaslight in which he played a thief/murderer who tries to convince his newlywed wife that she is going insane.
He was nominated for the Golden Globe as Best Actor for the 1952 film The Happy Time; and also nominated for the Emmy for Best Continuing Performance by an Actor in a Dramatic Series for his work in Four Star Playhouse (1952–1956).
- L'Homme du large (1920) as Guenn la Taupe - le mauvais génie de Michel
- Chantelouve (1921) as Roger de Thièvres
- Le Grillon du foyer (1922) as Edouard Caleb
- Esclave (1922) as Claude Laporte
- Infernal Circle (1928)
- Captain Fracasse (1929) as Duc de Vallombreuse
- La Barcarolle d'amour (1930) as Andre le Kerdec
- Revolt in the Prison (1930) as Fred Morgan
- The Magnificent Lie (1931) as Jacques
- Le Procès de Mary Dugan (1931) as Le procureur
- Tumultes (1932) as Ralph Schwarz
- The Man from Yesterday (1932) as Rene Gaudin
- Red-Headed Woman (1932) as Albert
- La Bataille (1933) as Le marquis Yorisaka
- I.F.1 ne répond plus (1933) as Ellisen
- The Empress and I (1933)
- L'Épervier (1933) as Comte Georges de Dasetta
- F.P.1 Doesn't Answer (1933)
- The Battle (1934) as Marquis Yorisaka
- Liliom (1934) as Liliom Zadowski
- The Only Girl (1934) as The Duke
- Caravan (1934) as Latzi
- Le Bonheur (1935) as Philippe Lutcher
- Private Worlds (1935) as Dr. Charles Monet
- Break of Hearts (1935) as Franz Roberti
- Shanghai (1935) as Dimitri Koslov
- Mayerling (1936) as L'archiduc Rodolphe
- The Garden of Allah (1936) as Boris Androvsky
- I Loved a Soldier (1936, unfinished film) as Leutnant Baron Almasy
- History Is Made at Night (1937) as Paul Dumond
- Conquest (1937) as Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte
- Tovarich (1937) as Prince Mikail Alexandrovitch Ouratieff
- Orage (1938) as André Pascaud
- Algiers (1938) as Pepe le Moko
- Love Affair (1939) as Michel
- When Tomorrow Comes (1939) as Philip Chagal
- Le Corsaire (1939)
- All This, and Heaven Too (1940) as Duc de Praslin
- Back Street (1941) as Walter Saxel
- Hold Back the Dawn (1941) as Georges Iscovescu
- Appointment for Love (1941) as Andre 'Pappy' Cassil
- Tales of Manhattan (1942) as Paul Orman
- Flesh and Fantasy (1943) as Paul Gaspar (Episode 3)
- The Heart of a Nation (1943, US version only) as Introductory Narrator [US version only]
- The Constant Nymph (1943) as Lewis Dodd
- Gaslight (1944) as Gregory Anton
- Together Again (1944) as George Corday
- The Fighting Lady (1944, French version only) as Narrator
- Confidential Agent (1945) as Luis Denard
- The Battle of the Rails (1946) as Narrator (voice, uncredited)
- Cluny Brown (1946) as Adam Belinski
- A Woman's Vengeance (1948) as Henry Maurier
- Arch of Triumph (1948) as Dr. Ravic
- The 13th Letter (1951) as Dr. Paul Laurent
- The First Legion (1951) as Father Marc Arnoux
- The Happy Time (1952) as Jacques Bonnard
- Thunder in the East (1952) as Prime Minister Singh
- The Earrings of Madame de... (1953) as Général André de...
- Boum sur Paris (1953) as Himself
- The Cobweb (1955) as Dr. Douglas N. Devanal
- Nana (1955) as Comte Muffat
- Lucky to Be a Woman (1956) as Count Gregorio Sennetti
- Around the World in 80 Days (1956) as Monsieur Gasse, balloonist
- Paris, Palace Hotel (1956) as Henri Delormel
- It Happened on the 36 Candles (1957) as Himself (uncredited)
- La Parisienne (1957) as Le prince Charles
- Maxime (1958) as Maxime Cherpray
- The Buccaneer (1958) as Dominique You
- Fanny (1961) as Cesar
- Midnight Folly (1961) as Pierre
- The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1962) as Marcelo Desnoyers
- Adorable Julia (1962) as Michael Grosselyn
- Love Is a Ball (1963) as M. Etienne Pimm
- A Very Special Favor (1965) as Michel Boullard
- How to Steal a Million (1966) as DeSolnay
- Is Paris Burning? (1966) as Docteur Monod
- Casino Royale (1967) as Le Grand
- Barefoot in the Park (1967) as Victor Velasco
- Hot Line (1968) as Vostov
- The April Fools (1969) as Andre Greenlaw
- The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969) as The Broker
- Lost Horizon (1973) as The High Lama
- Stavisky (1974) as Le baron Jean Raoul
- A Matter of Time (1976) as Count Sanziani (final film role)
- The Candid Camera Story (Very Candid) of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures 1937 Convention (1937) as Himself (uncredited)
- Hollywood Goes to Town (1938) as Himself
- Les îles de la liberté (1943) as Narrator
- Congo (1945) as Voice
- On Stage! (1949) as Himself
- 1955 Motion Picture Theatre Celebration (1955) as Himself (uncredited)
- Four Star Playhouse (29 episodes, 1952–1956) as Various characters
- Toast of the Town (2 episodes, 1953) as Himself
- Charles Boyer Theater (1953) as Himself / Host
- The Jackie Gleason Show (1 episode, 1953) as Himself
- I Love Lucy (1 episode, 1956) as Himself
- Climax! (1 episode, 1956) as Himself
- Hallmark Hall of Fame (1 episode, 1957)
- Playhouse 90 (1 episode, 1957) as Himself
- A Private Little Party for a Few Chums (1957) as Himself
- Goodyear Theatre (unknown episodes, 1957–1958) as Alternate Lead Player (1957-1958)
- Alcoa Theatre (3 episodes, 1957–1958) as Man / Lemerrier / Dr. Jacques Roland
- What's My Line? (4 episodes, 1957–1958, 1962–1963) as Himself - Mystery Guest
- The Dinah Shore Chevy Show (1 episode, 1960) as Himself
- The Dick Powell Show (4 episodes, 1962–1963) as Carlos Morell / Andreas
- A Golden Prison: The Louvre (1964, presenter) as Narrator
- The Rogues (8 episodes, 1964–1965) as Marcel St. Clair
- The Bell Telephone Hour (1 episode, 1966) as Himself
- The Name of the Game (1 episode, 1969) as Henri Jarnoux
- Film '72 (1 episode, 1976) as Himself
Golden Globe AwardsEdit
|1952||Best Actor - Drama||The Happy Time||Nominated|
- Obituary Variety, 30 August 1978.
- John Arthur Garraty, Mark Christopher Carnes and American Council of Learned Societies (1999). American national biography. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-512782-9.
- TCM Film Guide, pf. 29.
- Swindell, Larry (1983). Charles Boyer: The Reluctant Lover. Doubleday.
- From obscurity to instant fame Charles Boyer memorized a play in a few hours and became a star Swindell, Larry. The Globe and Mail; Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]18 Mar 1983: E.3.
- Q&A: Charles Boyer Diehl, Digby. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]24 Sep 1972: n18.
- Charles Boyer, Epitome of Suave Leading Man, Dies: Charles Boyer, Star for Decades, Dies Incomplete Source Los Angeles Times 27 Aug 1978: a1.
- "Charles Boyer – Biography". Classic Movie Favorites. Retrieved 24 September 2008.
- Straight From the Studios: Miriam Hopkins Slated to Become a Goldwyn Star; Charles Boyer Is Recalled to Hollywood; News Notes From Celluloid Capital. By Philip K. Scheuer The Washington Post 30 Aug 1934: 10.
- "Charles Boyer". All-Movie Guide. Retrieved 21 June 2009.
- Charles Boyer, French Star Los Angeles Times 5 May 1935: A1.
- Boller, Jr., Paul F.; George, John (1989). They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505541-1.
- TCM Film Guide, p. 31.
- Charles Boyer Refuses to Try To Fool Public: French Star Is Student Of Acting, Who Believes In Unremitting Work Charles Boyer By Melrose GowerHollywood, Feb. 18. The Washington Post (19 Feb 1939: T3.
- Le Corsaire at Louis Jourdan website accessed 20 January 2014
- Le Corsair at A Lost Film
- Charles Boyer Called for Service Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]23 Sep 1939: 1.
- CASE OF CHARLES BOYER New York Times 24 Nov 1939: 22.
- "Charles Boyer". TCM Movie Database. Archived from the original on 18 April 2009. Retrieved 21 June 2009.
- SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Charles Boyer Signs a 3-Year Producer-Actor Contract With Universal New York Times22 Jan 1942: 13.
- Actor Charles Boyer Becomes U.S. Citizen The Christian Science Monitor 14 Feb 1942: 8.
- Charles Boyer Highest Paid Warner Actor Los Angeles Times 20 Mar 1946: 1.
- "Lux Radio Theatre Log". Audio Classics Archive. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
- "PREMIERE TONIGHT FOR 'RED GLOVES'; Charles Boyer Stars in Harris Production of Sartre Play, Opening at Mansfield". timesmachine.nytimes.com. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
- ALONG BROADWAY: Charles Boyer Will Make Stage Debut Los Angeles Times10 Oct 1948: D2.
- "Don Juan in Hell by George Bernard Shaw". Amazon.com. Saland Publishing. 28 April 2009.
- Charles Boyer Joins New The Washington Post ]31 Aug 1952: L4.
- Charles Boyer Sheds the Tag of 'Lover Boy' Boyle, Hal. Chicago Daily Tribune 11 Dec 1955: f5.
- KIND SIR' ARRIVES AT ALVIN TONIGHT: Krasna Comedy to Star Mary Martin and Charles Boyer -- Logan Is Sole Sponsor By SAM ZOLOTOW. New York Times 4 Nov 1953: 28.
- What's My Line? - James C. Hagerty; Charles Boyer; James Michener (panel) (Mar 10, 1957)
- "HALLMARK HALL OF FAME: THERE SHALL BE NO NIGHT, ACT 1 (TV)". The Paley Center for Media. Retrieved 18 May 2010.
- Dick, Bernard F. (2008). Claudette Colbert: She Walked in Beauty. University Press of Mississippi.
- Charles Boyer Finance Chief of Handsome Four Star Board RICH DU BROW. Chicago Daily Tribune 10 Apr 1960: s_a4.
- Charles Boyer Shines in 'Lord Pengo' Comedy Los Angeles Times 22 Nov 1962: B10.
- "Man & Boy". The Actors Company Theatre. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
- Accent Is On--Guess Who?--Charles Boyer Los Angeles Times 04 Feb 1962: A32.
- "Clambake – United Artists 1967". For Elvis Fans Only. EPE. Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 24 September 2008.
- "Charles Boyer Awards". Hollywood.com. Retrieved 24 September 2008.
- "Boyer Returns" (PDF). Broadcasting. 15 December 1939. p. 82. Retrieved 13 July 2015.[permanent dead link]
- "Jergens Summer Plans" (PDF). Broadcast inf. 15 May 1940. p. 36. Retrieved 13 July 2015.[permanent dead link]
- British Film Institute (1995). Ginette Vincendeau (ed.). Encyclopedia of European Cinema (Cassell FilmStudies). London: Continuum International Publishing Group (formerly Cassell Academic).
- Wilson, Paul F. "Charles Boyer (1899–1978)". Find A Grave. Retrieved 21 June 2009.
- "Celebrity Sightings – B". Bankruptcy & Debt Information from Doney & Associates. Retrieved 24 September 2008.
- "Entry for Michael C. Boyer". California Department of Health Services Office of Health Information and Research. Rootsweb. Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- Donnelley, Paul. Fade To Black: A Book Of Movie Obituaries, 2nd Edition. London: Omnibus Press, 2005, First edition 2003. ISBN 978-1-84449-430-9.
- "Hollywood Walk of Fame - Charles Boyer". walkoffame.com. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
Only the motion pictures star is listed
- "Hollywood Star Walk - Charles Boyer". latimes.com. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
Both stars are listed