Charles Boyer - Biography
Charles Boyer was known as one of the great cinematic lovers with his passionate, deep-set eyes and ultra suave manner. He was born in Figeac, France on August 28, 1899. He went to the Sorbonne in Paris where he earned a degree in Philosophy. My first memory of seeing him on film was in the Garden of Allah, 1936 where he starred with Marlene Dietrich and I was completely swept away by his suave and sophisticated manner and deep voice with French accent. He had done many films in France and been very successful. His first film was L'Homme du Large (The Big House).
He went to Hollywood to make the French remake of Wallace Berry's great American movie, The Big House. Since he had been such a big star in France he was taking a great risk by leaving the French film industry. He fell for Hollywood and decided to stay to take his chance in American films. Apart from a few words he did not speak English so he started taking English lessons. His first big break in a Hollywood role was a very small part of a chauffeur to Jean Harlow in Red Headed Woman, 1932. He became a true star with this role and went on to play opposite the most alluring actresses of the 30's and 40's such as Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn, Irene Dunne Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, Bette Davis and Claudette Colbert.
In 1934 he married Pat
Paterson, his first and only wife. During World War II he became
active in encouraging French-American relations and established the
French Research Foundation, for which he was awarded a special Academy
Award in 1942 for "progressive cultural achievement". He was
nominated for the Oscar four times but never won (see listing below).
With actors Dick Powell and David Niven, Boyer co-founded Four Star Television in 1951. In the 1950's he was a guest star on I Love Lucy and in the 1940's was the voice of Capt. Daniel Gregg in Lux Radio Theater's presentation of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. The cartoon character 'Pepe Le Pew' was based on his Pepe Le Moko character in the film Algiers. Pepes's appearance would change many times through the years but the first version was created by Michael Maltese in 1945 when Pepe debuted in "Odor-able Kitty" a Chuck Jones film. Although he is a skunk, the manor and accent of Pepe reminds us of Boyer's performances.
Boyer had a sad end to his life on August 26, 1978. He committed suicide by taking a fatal dose of barbiturates two days after the death of his wife Patricia Peterson who had died of cancer (see his grave site).