Active - 1931 - 1946  |   Born - Dec 18, 1883 in Toulon, France  |   Died - Sep 20, 1946 in Paris, France  |   Genres - Comedy Drama, Drama, Comedy

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French actor Raimu (sometimes billed as Jules Raimu) was on-stage from the age of 15, performing at "coffee concerts" and appearing as a supernumerary in casino shows in his native Toulon. After several years' ascendency in music halls and regional shows, Raimu was "discovered" for the legitimate stage in 1916 by writer/director Sacha Guitry. Throughout the 1920s, Raimu was a leading light of the Parisian theater scene, alternating between classic comedy roles, modern-dress fare, and well-received appearances at the Cigale and the Folies Bergere. In 1929, Raimu was cast in what was considered his finest role to date, the philosophical Marseilles tavern keeper Cesar in Marcel Pagnol's Marius. When time came to commit Marius to film in 1931, it was a "given" that Raimu would re-create his roles. An unhappy fling at moviemaking some 20 years earlier had made him reluctant to stand before the cameras, but Raimu agreed to make his talkie debut in Le Blanc et le Noir (1931), directed by old mentor Sacha Guitry. After this pleasant experience, Raimu, as enthusiastic as a schoolboy, agreed to appear in Marius (1931); he would go on to repeat his Cesar characterization in the two remaining entries in Pagnol's "Marseilles Trilogy," Fanny (1932) and Cesar (1935). Though little known in America outside the big cities that could support "art" cinema houses, Raimu was regarded by the rest of the world as one of France's greatest actors; some observers, notably Orson Welles, considered him the greatest. In 1943, Raimu took a three-year sabbatical from filmmaking when he was invited to join La Comedie Francaise, where he excelled in the plays of Moliere. At war's end, Raimu made one last film, The Eternal Husband (1946), before his death at age 63.

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