Monday, October 11, 2010

Charles Boyer (1899-1978)

The French born actor started out in theater in Paris after receiving a degree in Philosophy at the Sorbonne at the end of the 1910's.  He quickly progressed to French films then relocated to the U.S. which started his long and successful career playing the love interest of many of our great actresses.  Mr. Boyer appeared in his first U.S. film in 1930 but it wasn't until his performance in "The Garden Of Allah" 1936 (co-star Marlene Dietrich) that he got noticed and the romantic leads in which he became so famous for began.

Mr. Boyer starred in over 70 films both in the U.S. and abroad during his long career. The two that stand out to me are "Gaslight" 1944 (co-star Ingrid Bergman)  and "Love Affair" 1939 ( co-star Irene Dunne).  In "Gaslight" Boyer isolates his wife and attempts to drive her insane to hide his murderous past.  The scenes with the flickering lights and Ingrid Bergman's expressions as Boyer plays with her mind are cinematic genius. (Charles was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in "Gaslight" but he lost out to Bing Crosby. Ingrid Bergman did win for Best Actress and Gaslight was also nominated for Best Picture but lost out to "Going My Way". (I love Bing Crosby films as much as the next person but Gaslight and Double Indemnity, which was also nominated that year we're fantastic films and in my opinion Oscar worthy).

"Love Affair" was remade in 1984 and starred Warren Beauty and Annette Bening. (Sorry but I prefer the original with Boyer) Mr. Boyer was nominated for an Oscar four times during his career but never won. He was given an Honorary Oscar Certificate in 1944. In later years with leading man roles replaced by younger actors,  Charles was given character parts in movies like "Around The World In 80 Days" 1956 and in "Casino Royale" 1967. He also starred along side David Niven in the TV series "The Rogues" from 1964-1965.

with Loretta Young

Mr. Boyer married only once in 1934 to British actress Pat Paterson. They remained married until her death from cancer in 1978. Heartbroken by her death, Mr. Boyer committed suicide by taking an overdose of Seconal two days later.  Charles was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, CA. His grave site can be viewed HERE. Mr. Boyer is buried next to his wife and his son Michael who committed suicide in 1965 at the age of 21..

with Irene Dunne still from "Love Affair" 1939

autograph from my personal collection

Fun Charles Boyer Facts:

He was described as tall, dark and handsome and with his thick French accent and dark piercing eyes on screen, he captured many a female fans heart. But he was actually 5'9 and wore lifts in his shoes or stood on a box for certain close up scenes with his leading ladies. He also started going bald in his early twenties and wore a toupee while filming. Poor Charles also had quite a ponch and was filmed in ways to hide his protruding stomach.  (Aww the magic of Hollywood)

The cartoon character Pepe Le Pew was modeled after Charles Boyer's character Pepe Le Moko in the film "Algiers" 1938. 

Even though the famous line "Come With Me To The Casbah" appeared in the official trailer for the movie "Algiers" it was emitted from the actual movie. This line was later repeated in cartoons and is one of the most quoted lines from the film.

Betty Davis once walked on to set and tried to have Charles Boyer thrown out due to not recognizing him. He  wasn't wearing his toupee and was dressed shabbily at the time.  (The lovable Bette, I can only imagine the scene she made).

His career lasted longer than any other romantic lead actor winning him the nickname "the last of the cinema's great lovers".

Mr. Boyer recorded an album called "Where Does Love Go" in 1966. It wasn't necessarily singing as much as Charles speaking lyrics in his thick French accent. However it became Elvis Presley\s favorite album in the last 11 yrs of his life and the one he listened to the most.  (I'm guessing Mr. Boyer would have gotten a real kick out of knowing that)

Even though Charles had the reputation of being one of the great lovers due to his on screen persona. He preferred staying at home reading books and considered himself quite dull.

Ingrid Bergman spent time in an insane asylum in preparation for her role in Gaslight.

Have a great day and find yourself a great old movie to enjoy. You can find the full movie schedule for TCM HERE



  1. he is a great actor... jus watching .... all that, and heaven too.

  2. Nirmala,
    Thanks for stopping by! I really liked All That and Heaven Too. I just watched it again recently.

    I hope you'll look through the archives and return often.