Louis Jourdan

Active - 1940 - 1994  |   Born - Jun 19, 1921   |   Died - Feb 14, 2015   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Romance, Adventure, Action

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Born Louis Gendre in Marseille, France in 1921, Louis Jourdan (his mother's maiden name) was Hollywood's go-to Frenchman for the majority of his career, which spanned over five decades. He trained as an actor with Rene Simon at the Ecole Dramatique and made his onscreen debut in 1939, going on to play cultivated, polished, dashing lead roles in a number of French romantic comedies and dramas. After his father was arrested by the Gestapo, Louis and his two brothers joined the French underground; his film career came to a halt when he refused to act in Nazi propaganda films. In 1948 David O. Selznick invited him to Hollywood to appear in The Paradine Case (1948); he remained in the U.S. and went on to star in a number of Hollywood films.

Jourdan quickly followed The Paradine Case with Letter From an Unknown Woman, opposite Joan Fontaine and a supporting role in Madame Bovary, directed by Vincente Minnelli. He continued to work in both France and Hollywood, often playing the French playboys. In 1958, he reteamed with Minnelli to play Gaston in the musical Gigi, opposite Leslie Caron, and got to showcase his singing voice in the film.

He spent a significant part of his career filming adaptations of Alexandre Dumas works. He played the title character in The Count of Monte Cristo (1961) and later played the villain, De Villefort, in a TV movie of the same story, followed by a turn as D'Artagnan in The Man in the Iron Mask (1977). In 1983, he played a Bond villain, Kamal Khan, in Octopussy. Jourdan slowed his film output by the late 1980s, and made his last film, Year of the Comet, in 1992. He died in 2015, at age 93.

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