Pierre Olaf

Pierre Olaf (14 July 1928 — 16 September 1995)[1] was a French actor, cabaret artist, and clown. He first achieved success as a stage actor in Paris in the musical revues of Robert Dhéry. He achieved particular acclaim in Dhéry's Jupon Volé (1954) and La Plume de Ma Tante (1955); the latter of which served as an international vehicle for him with productions in Paris, London's West End (1955-1958), and in New York City on Broadway (1958-1960). In 1959 he and the rest of the cast of La Plume de Ma Tante were awarded a non-competitive Special Tony Award. In 1962 he was nominated for a competitive Tony Award for his portrayal of Jacquot in the original Broadway production of Bob Merrill's Carnival! (1961).

Olaf began his career in French cinema in the 1950s. A friend of French director and writer Jean Renoir, he appeared in stage, television, and film works written and directed by him. He was a featured interviewee in the 1993 documentary film on Renoir. He also appeared in many films associated with Dhéry, and performed in both French and American films and television programs during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. In 1962 he was a regular performer on Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall. Some of his notable Hollywood film credits include the Tony Curtis comedy Wild and Wonderful (1964), the James Garner and Dick Van Dyke comedy The Art of Love, and the Academy Award winning musical film Camelot (1967). One of his final screen credits was as Captain Rondicherry in the 1989 television miniseries Around the World in 80 Days made for CBS television.

Early career in French cinema and theatreEdit

Born Pierre-Olaf Trivier in Caudéran in the Gironde department of Bordeaux, France, Olaf began his professional acting career on the stage in his late teens.[1] He excelled in comedy roles; aided in that capacity by his small stature and an "owlish face".[1] He first appeared in French cinema in his early 20s, beginning with the role of Sanchez in Marcel Aboulker's Le Trésor des Pieds-Nickelés (1950).[2] Other French films he appeared in during his early career included Miquette et sa mère (1950),[3] Trois femmes (1952),[4] Soyez les bienvenus (1953),[5] Mam'zelle Nitouche (1954),[6] and Ah ! les belles bacchantes (1954).[7]

On the stage, Olaf was frequently used in the comedic musical revues of Robert Dhéry in Paris during his early career.[1] The French director Jean Renoir cast Olaf as Roberto, a whistling pierrot, in his 1955 film French Cancan, after seeing his performance in Dhéry's 1954 Paris revue Jupon Volé.[8] [1] Renoir became a close friend with Olaf during the making of this film, a friendship which lasted until Renoir's death in 1979.[1] Olaf starred as Philippe in Renoir's 1955 play Orvet at the Théâtre de la Renaissance.[9]

Of Dhéry musical reviews, the most highly regarded on the international stage was La Plume de Ma Tante; which was adapted for the West End's Garrick Theatre from it's original French language Paris production by English songwriter Ross Parker.[10] Premiering in London in 1955, the production ran for two and a half years before transferring to Broadway's Royale Theatre in 1958.[11] Olaf portrayed multiple comedic roles in both the West End and Broadway productions, and was one of the production's main comedic talents.[1][10][11] In 1957 he appeared on BBC Television in "Jack Hylton presents The Robert Dhéry Show" which included adaptations from the West End musical among other material by Dhéry.[12] The entire cast of La Plume de Ma Tante, including Olaf, was awarded a Special Tony Award in 1959.[13]

Carnival!Edit

After the Broadway production of La Plume de Ma Tante closed in December 1960, Dhéry remained in the United States and took the part of Jacquot in the original Broadway production of Bob Merrill's Carnival! starring Anna Maria Alberghetti, Jerry Orbach, and Kaye Ballard.[1][14] The musical premiered at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. for out of town tryout performances in March 1961.[14] After further tryouts in Philadelphia, the production moved to Broadway's Imperial Theatre where it opened on April 12, 1961.[15] The part of Jacquot was a critical success for Olaf who received a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical in 1962.[16] A review in Billboard magazine stated the following about his performance:

"The real showman of the group is Pierre Olaf, the great French clown from 'La Plume de Ma Tante'. Olaf contribute's 'Carnival's' most effective production number, a bright exhilarating turn titled 'Grand Imperial Cirque de Paris'."[17]

Olaf recorded the role of Jacquot on the 1961 original cast album of the musical.[18] That Broadway cast recording reached No. 1 on the Billboard album chart dated July 17, 1961.[19] Olaf later reprised the role of Jacquot at New York City Center in 1968 with the New York City Center Light Opera Company.[20][21]

Work in American television and filmEdit

In late 1961 Olaf went to Hollywood to make his first appearances on American television and film; beginning with the role of a clown in a television adaptation of Leonid Andreyev's He Who Gets Slapped starring Richard Basehart and Julie Harris.[22] He portrayed the title role in the December 1961 television film The Enchanted Nutcracker with Carol Lawrence and Robert Goulet as his co-stars.[23] In 1962 he had a recurring role in comedy sketches in Perry Como's television program Kraft Music Hall.[24] In 1966 he portrayed the recurring role of Milan Petros in the television series The Trials of O'Brien. He also portrayed roles in multiple television miniseries, including Lace (1984, as Serge),[25] The Free Frenchman (1989, Georges Auget), and Around the World in 80 Days (1989, as Captain Rondicherry).[26]

His film roles include Jacquot in Wild and Wonderful (1964),[27][28] Inspector Carnot in The Art of Love (1965),[29] Petros in Too Many Thieves (1967),[30] Dap in Camelot (1967),[31] Chef in Don't Drink the Water (1969),[32] Cozzier in The Gamblers (1970),[33][34][35] Lacoste in Irish Whiskey Rebellion (1972),[36] a Courtier in Cheech & Chong's The Corsican Brothers (1984),[37] and the priest in American Dreamer (1984).[38] He also starred in the 1966 Warner Brothers short film By the Sea.[39]

Other stage work in the United StatesEdit

Olaf remained involved with theatre while venturing into television and film. He starred as Passepartout in the world premiere of Sig Herzig, Sammy Fain and Victor Young's musical adaptation of Around the World in Eighty Days at the Saint Louis Municipal Opera in June 1962.[40] That production co-starred Cyril Ritchard, and it transferred to the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri after its Saint Louis run the following August.[41] In between those production, Olaf starred in Frank Lowe's stage adaptation of James Thurber's The 13 Clocks at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia in July 1962.[42]

Olaf was a featured entertainer at the 1964 New York World's Fair.[43] That same year he returned to Broadway as Jerome Lahutte in Yves Jamiaque's play A Murderer Among Us, and appeared Off-Broadway as Ferdinand Goddard in Cy Young's That Hat!, a musical adaptation of the farce The Italian Straw Hat.[44][45][46] Neither work was well received, with critics blaming the scripts for not giving Olaf material to display his comedic talent.[44][45][46][47] In 1965 he starred as Raphael Bonnardon in the world premiere of Jean-Pierre Aumont's Madame Mousse with Molly Picon in the title role at the Westport Country Playhouse.[48]

Other work in French cinema, television, and theatreEdit

In 1964 Olaf reunited with Robert Dhéry to make the film Allez France!, which screened in the United States two years later with the English language title The Counterfeit Constable.[49][50] He worked with Dhery again ten years later on the film Vos gueules, les mouettes !.[51]

In 1970 Olaf reunited with Renoir to make the 1970 television film-series The Little Theatre of Jean Renoir; portraying Gustave in "La Cireuse électrique".[52][1][53] He was a featured interviewee in the 1993 documentary film on Renoir.[54]

In 1984 Olaf portrayed Bob Cratchit in a French language adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol for TF1 television.[55] In 1985 he created the role of Abdul in the premiere of Peter Ustinov’s play Comme de mal entendu at the Théâtre de la Madeleine.[56]

Later life and deathEdit

In his latter years, Olaf lived in a small apartment in Montmartre, Paris which had window views that overlooked the Sacré-Cœur.[1] He died in Paris on September 16, 1995.[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ronald Bergan (22 September 1995). "Pierre Olaf: Surreal world of a pierrot". The Guardian. p. 17.
  2. ^ Maurice Bessy, Raymond Chirat (1986). "Le Trésor des Pieds-Nickelés". Histoire du cinéma français encyclopédie des films, 1940-1950. Pygmalion. p. 522.
  3. ^ Maurice Bessy, Raymond Chirat (1986). "Miquette et sa mère". Histoire du cinéma français encyclopédie des films, 1940-1950. Pygmalion. p. 518.
  4. ^ Henri Langlois, Huguette Marquand Ferreux (1991). Musée du cinéma Henri Langlois: De l'expressionnisme allemand aux années cinquante. Maeght. p. 169.
  5. ^ Maurice Bessy, Raymond Chirat (1987). "Soyez les bienvenus". Histoire du cinéma français encyclopédie des films, 1951-1955. Pygmalion. p. 192.
  6. ^ Jean-Charles Sabria (1987). "Cinéma français les années 50 : les longs métrages réalisés de 1950 à 1959". Éd. du Centre Pompidou. p. 1952.
  7. ^ Maurice Bessy, Raymond Chirat (1987). "Ah ! les belles bacchantes". Histoire du cinéma français encyclopédie des films, 1951-1955. Pygmalion. p. 341.
  8. ^ Mosk (June 30, 1954). "Legitimate: Plays Abroad - Jupon Vole". Variety. 195 (4). p. 58.
  9. ^ Curt (May 11, 1955). "Legitimate: Shows Abroad - Orvet". Variety. 198 (10). p. 66.
  10. ^ a b Myro (Nov 9, 1955). "Legitimate: Shows Abroad - La Plume de ma Tante". Variety. 200 (10). p. 58.
  11. ^ a b "Legitimate: Show on Broadway; la plume". Variety. 212 (12). Nov 19, 1958. p. 72.
  12. ^ Gray, Andrew. The Stage (Archive: 1880-1959); London (Feb 28, 1957). "TV PAGE: TeleBriefs?" (3, 959). p. 12.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Dan Dietz (2014). The Complete Book of 1950s Broadway Musicals. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 329. ISBN 9781442235052.
  14. ^ a b Carp (Mar 15, 1961). "Legitimate: Shows Out of Town - Carnival!". Variety. 222 (3). p. 66.
  15. ^ Hobe (Apr 19, 1961). "Legitimate: Shows on Broadway - Carnival". Variety. 222 (8). p. 70.
  16. ^ Lee Alan Morrow (1987). The Tony Award Book: Four Decades of Great American Theater. Abbeville Press. p. 229.
  17. ^ "Carnival' Enchanting Musical". Billboard. 73 (16). Apr 24, 1961. p. 5.
  18. ^ Gros (May 10, 1961). "Music: Album Reviews". Variety. 222 (11). p. 74.
  19. ^ "TOP LP's". Billboard. 73 (28). July 17, 1961. p. 38.
  20. ^ Hobe (December 18, 1968). "Legitimate: Show on Broadway". Variety. 253 (5). p. 58.
  21. ^ Zwerdling, Allen (December 20, 1968). "CAPSULE REVIEWS: "CARNIVAL"". Back Stage. 9 (51). p. 44.
  22. ^ Amnon Kabatchnik (2008). Blood on the Stage: Milestone Plays of Crime, Mystery, and Detection: an Annotated Repertoire, 1900–1925. p. 251.
  23. ^ Rose (Dec 27, 1961). "Television Review: THE ENCHANTED NUTCRACKER". Variety. 225 (5). p. 27.
  24. ^ Kali (Oct 10, 1962). "Television Reviews: PERRY COMO'S KRAFT MUSIC HALL". Variety. 228 (7). p. 32.
  25. ^ Alvin H. Marill (1987). "Lace". Movies Made for Television:The Telefeature and the Mini-series, 1964-1986. New York Zoetrope. p. 227.
  26. ^ Tone (April 26, 1989). "Television, Cable & Radio: TELEVISION REVIEWS - NETWORK". Variety. 335 (1). p. 200.
  27. ^ Tube (May 6, 1964). "Film Reviews: Wild And Wonderful". Variety. 234 (11). p. 6.
  28. ^ Eugene Archer (June 11, 1964). "Tony Curtis Comedy". The New York Times.
  29. ^ Dale (May 12, 1965). "Film review: The Art of Love". Variety. 238 (12). p. 6.
  30. ^ John Howard Reid (2006). "Too Many Thieves". Great Cinema Detectives: Best Movies of Mystery, Suspense & Film Noir. p. 232.
  31. ^ "FEATURE REVIEW: 'Camelot'". Boxoffice. 92 (2). October 30, 1967. p. 33.
  32. ^ "Current Film Reviews: DON'T DRINK THE WATER". The Independent Film Journal. 64 (12). November 12, 1969. p. 1138.
  33. ^ Alford, Walter (November 27, 1968). "International: Glazier's 'Gamblers,' Lensed in Yugo, Putting Fresh Focus on Dubrovnik". Variety. 253 (2). p. 30.
  34. ^ "THE GAMBLERS"". Variety. 256 (4). September 10, 1969. p. 17.
  35. ^ "FEATURE REVIEWS: THE GAMBLERS". Boxoffice. 96 (7). December 1, 1969. p. A11.
  36. ^ Alan Goble, ed. (1991). The International Film Index, 1895-1990: Directors' filmography and indexes. Bowker-Saur.
  37. ^ Harris M. Lentz (2001). Science Fiction, Horror & Fantasy Film and Television Credits: Filmography. McFarland & Company. p. 955.
  38. ^ Fischer Film Almanach 1991. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag. 1991. p. 22.
  39. ^ "WB to Handle Tiger Films Short; Schoenfeld Another". Boxoffice. 90 (6). November 28, 1966. p. 12.
  40. ^ Bob (Jun 20, 1962). "Legitimate: Stock Reviews - Around the World In 80 Days". Variety. 227 (4). p. 64.
  41. ^ "Legitimate: Stock Having Salubrious Summer; Ont. Fest $67,114, 'Fanny' 53G, Pitt". Variety. 227 (11). Aug 8, 1962. p. 57.
  42. ^ "Legitimate: Pierre Olaf's Wanderings". Variety. 227 (8). Jul 18, 1962. p. 55.
  43. ^ Green, Abel (Aug 7, 1963). "Miscellany: Expo Execs Point to Many Showmen Who'll Insure a 'Fun' Fair in 1964". Variety. 231 (11). p. 2, 58.
  44. ^ a b "Legitimate: Show on Broadway - A Murderer Among Us". Variety. 234 (6). April 1, 1964. p. 80-81.
  45. ^ a b American Version of French Play Opens; Loring Smith, Olaf and Bosley at Morosco. The New York Times. March 26, 1964. p. 43.
  46. ^ a b Kenn (September 30, 1964). "Legitimate: Off-B'way Review". Variety. 236 (6). p. 64.
  47. ^ "The Theater: 'That Hat!'; Musical Version of Old French Farce Opens". The New York Times. September 24, 1964. p. 45.
  48. ^ "Legitimate: Stock Reviews - Madame Mousse". Variety. 240 (1). August 25, 1965. p. 50.
  49. ^ Mosk (Nov 18, 1964). "Film review: AIlez France". Variety. 236 (13). p. 7.
  50. ^ Bosley Crowther (November 22, 1966). "Screen: A Noisy Failure:'Counterfeit Constable' at Little Carnegie". The New York Times.
  51. ^ Mosk (November 6, 1974). "Film Reviews: Vos Gueules, Les Mouettes!". Variety. 276 (13). p. 20.
  52. ^ Vincent CanBY (May 3, 1974). "'Le Petit Theatre de Jean Renoir, C'est Merveilleux". The New York Times. p. 46.
  53. ^ Mosk (July 14, 1971). "Pictures: Film Reviews - Le Petit Theatre De Jean Renoir". Variety. 263 (9). p. 20.
  54. ^ Elley, Derek (December 13, 1993). "Reviews: LONDON FEST - JEAN RENOIR". Variety. 353 (5). p. 39.
  55. ^ Fred Guida (2006). A Christmas Carol and Its Adaptations: A Critical Examination of Dickens's Story and Its Productions on Screen and Television. McFarland & Company. p. 216. ISBN 9780786428403.
  56. ^ Curt (October 2, 1985). "Legitimate: Shows Abroad - Comme De Mal Entendu". Variety. 320 (10). p. 152.

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