French actor/singer Bourvil (his professional name taken from the Bourville district of his native Normandy) was musically inclined from his youth, when he played trumpet in a municipal band. Developing his singing while in military service, Bourvil first stepped on stage in 1937 as an amateur entertainer, using the stage name "Andrel." By 1938 he had become a fixture of the French music halls with his signature song, "Ignace," and at the time of the Nazi occupation Bourvil was an established radio performer. Though popular, it took Bourvil a while to develop his own style and stop imitating his idol, Gallic comedian Fernandel. Bourvil made his screen debut in a tiny part in Croisieres siderales (1941), but officially his first film was La Ferme du Pendu, filmed in 1943 and released outside France in 1945. An established comic performer, Bourvil did more stage than film work in the 1950s, though he was memorable as Planchet in the 1953 French Les Trois Mousquetoris,- and, less lovably, as the nasty innkeeper in the 1956 version of Les Miserables. Comparatively unknown to American audiences, Bourvil was given a wonderful moment in the Hollywood-financed war epic The Longest Day (1962), in which as the Mayor of Colleville he effusively greets the invading allied troops at Normandy and offers his negligible services as a soldier. The last of Bourvil's English-language appearances was in another all-star spectacular, Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies (1969).
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Il passe son enfance dans le village de Bourville, en Seine-Maritime, qui lui inspire son nom de scène.
- Boulanger de formation, il préfère partir pour Paris, et tenter de percer dans la chanson, puis dans le registre des "comiques paysans".
- Il a souvent tenu des rôles de naïfs, d'hommes simples parfois un peu bêtes, et ce, souvent face à Louis De Funès.
- Dans L'arbre de Noël, il donne l'une de ses rares interprétations dramatiques.
- Il meurt à 53 ans, atteint de la maladie de Kahler.
- Trente-cinq ans après sa mort, il était 7ème d'un classement des personnalités françaises les plus célèbres.
- C'est lui qui a doublé ses propres films en anglais.
- En 1994, un timbre à son effigie est édité par les postes françaises.