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Louis de Funès

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Louis de Funès
Louis de Funès 1970.jpg
De Funès in 1970
Louis Germain David de Funès de Galarza

(1914-07-31)31 July 1914
Courbevoie, France
Died27 January 1983(1983-01-27) (aged 68)
Nantes, France
Other namesFufu
Years active1945–1982
Spouse(s)Germaine Louise Elodie Carroyer (m. 1936; div. 1942)
Jeanne Barthelémy de Maupassant (m. 1943)
Children3, including Olivier
AwardsGrand prix du rire, 1957, Comme un cheveu sur la soupe
Victoire du cinéma, 1965
Legion Honneur Chevalier ribbon.svg
Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur, 1973
César d'honneur, 1980
Louis de Funès signature.png

Louis Germain David de Funès de Galarza (French: [lwi ʒɛʁmɛ̃ david də fynɛs də ɡalaʁza];[1] 31 July 1914 – 27 January 1983) was a French actor and comedian. He is France's favourite actor, according to a series of polls conducted since the late 1960s, having played over 150 roles in film and over 100 on stage.[2] His acting style is remembered for its high-energy performance and his wide range of facial expressions and tics. A considerable part of his best-known acting was directed by Jean Girault.

One of the most famous French actors of all time, Louis de Funès also enjoys widespread international recognition. In addition to his immense fame in the French-speaking world, he is also still a household name in many other parts of the world, including German-speaking countries, the former Soviet Union, former Eastern Bloc, Italy, Spain, Greece, Albania, ex-Yugoslavia, as well as Turkey, Iran, Israel, and Mauritius.

Despite his international fame, Louis de Funès remains almost unknown in the English-speaking world. He was exposed to a wider audience only once in the United States, in 1974, with the release of The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob, which is best remembered for its Rabbi Jacob dance scene and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. Louis de Funès has two museums dedicated to his life and acting: one in the Château de Clermont, near Nantes, where he resided, as well as another in the town of Saint-Raphaël, Southern France.[3][4]

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Early life

Louis de Funès was born on 31 July 1914 in Courbevoie, Hauts-de-Seine to parents who hailed from Seville, Spain. Since the couple's families opposed their marriage, they eloped to France in 1904. His father, Carlos Luis de Funès de Galarza, a nobleman whose mother descended from the Counts de Galarza (of Basque origin).[5] His father was from Funes.[6] He had been a lawyer in Spain, but became a diamond cutter upon arriving in France. His mother, Leonor Soto Reguera, was Galician, daughter to Galician lawyer Teolindo Soto Barro, of Portuguese descent.

Known to friends and intimates as "Fufu", de Funès spoke French, Spanish and English. During his youth, he was fond of drawing and playing the piano. He was an alumnus of the lycée Condorcet in Paris. He later dropped out, and his early life was rather inconspicuous; as a youth and young adult, de Funès held menial jobs, from which he was repeatedly fired. He became a bar pianist, working mostly as a jazz pianist in Pigalle, Paris, where he made his customers laugh each time he grimaced. He studied acting for one year at the Simon acting school, where he made some useful contacts, including with Daniel Gélin, among others. In 1936, he married Germaine Louise Elodie Carroyer, with whom he had one child: a son named Daniel; the couple divorced in late 1942. Through the early 1940s, de Funès continued playing the piano in clubs, thinking there was not much call for a short, balding, skinny actor. His wife and Daniel Gélin encouraged him until he managed to overcome his fear of rejection. His wife supported him in the most difficult moments and helped him to manage his career efficiently.

During the occupation of Paris in the Second World War, he continued his piano studies at a music school, where he fell in love with a secretary, Jeanne Barthelémy de Maupassant. She had fallen in love with "the young man who played jazz like God"; they married in 1943 and remained together for forty years until de Funès' death in 1983. They had two sons: Patrick (born on 27 January 1944), who became a doctor, and Olivier (born on 11 August 1949), who became a pilot for Air France Europe and also followed in his father's footsteps by becoming an actor. Olivier de Funès became known for the roles he played in some of his father's films (Les Grandes Vacances, Fantômas se déchaîne, Le Grand Restaurant and Hibernatus being the most famous).

Theatrical career

De Funès began his show business career in the theatre, where he enjoyed moderate success and also played small roles in films. Even after he attained the status of a movie star, he continued to play theatre roles. His stage career culminated in a magnificent performance in the play Oscar, a role which he would reprise a few years later in the film adaptation.

Film career

De Funès during the shooting of Le gendarme et les extra-terrestres
De Funès during the shooting of Le gendarme et les extra-terrestres

In 1945, thanks to his contact with Daniel Gélin, de Funès made his film debut at the age of 31 with a bit part in Jean Stelli's La Tentation de Barbizon.[7] He appears on screen for less than 40 seconds in the role of the porter of the cabaret Le Paradis, welcoming the character played by Jérôme Chambon in the entrance hall and pointing him to the double doors leading to the main room, saying: "C'est par ici, Monsieur" ("It's this way, Sir"). Chambon declines the invitation, pushing the door himself instead of pulling it open. De Funès then says: "Bien, il a son compte celui-là, aujourd'hui!" ("Well, he had enough, today!").[8]

He went on to perform in 130 film roles over the next 20 years, playing minor roles in over 80 movies before being offered his first leading roles. During this period, de Funès developed a daily routine of professional activities: in the morning, he did dubbing for recognized artists such as Totò, an Italian comic of the time; during the afternoon, he did film work; and in the evening, he performed as a theatre actor.

From 1945 to 1955, he appeared in 50 films, usually as an extra or walk-on. In 1954, he went on to star in such films as Ah! Les belles bacchantes and Le Mouton à cinq pattes. A break came in 1956, when he appeared as the black-market pork butcher Jambier (another small role) in Claude Autant-Lara's well-known World War II comedy, La Traversée de Paris. He achieved stardom in 1963 with Jean Girault's film, Pouic-Pouic. This successful film guaranteed de Funès top billing in all of his subsequent films. At the age of 49, de Funès unexpectedly became a major star of international renown with the success of Le gendarme de Saint-Tropez. After their first successful collaboration, director Jean Girault perceived de Funès as the ideal actor to play the part of the scheming, opportunistic and sycophant gendarme; the first film would led to a series of six.

Another collaboration with director Gérard Oury produced a memorable tandem of de Funès with Bourvil—another great comic actor—in the 1965 film, Le Corniaud. The success of the de Funès-Bourvil partnership was repeated in La Grande Vadrouille, one of the most successful and the largest-grossing film ever made in France, drawing an audience of 17.27 million. It remains his greatest success.[9] Oury envisaged a further reunion of the two comics in his film La Folie des grandeurs, but Bourvil's death in 1970 led to the unlikely pairing of de Funès with Yves Montand in that film.

De Funès on the set of L'homme orchestre in 1970
De Funès on the set of L'homme orchestre in 1970

Eventually, de Funès became France's leading comic actor. Between 1964 and 1979, he topped France's box office of the year's most successful movies seven times. In 1968, all three of his films were in the top ten in France for the year, topped by Le Petit Baigneur.[10]

He co-starred with many of the major French actors of his time, including Jean Marais and Mylène Demongeot in the Fantomas trilogy, and also Jean Gabin, Fernandel, Coluche, Annie Girardot, and Yves Montand. He also worked with Jean Girault in the famous 'Gendarmes' series. In a departure from the Gendarme image, de Funès collaborated with Claude Zidi, who wrote for him a new character full of nuances and frankness in L'aile ou la cuisse (1976), which is arguably the best of his roles. Later, de Funès' considerable musical abilities were showcased in films such as Le Corniaud and Le Grand Restaurant. In 1964, he debuted in the first of the Fantômas series, which launched him into superstardom.

In 1975, Oury turned again to de Funès for a film entitled Le Crocodile, in which he was to play the role of a South American dictator. But in March 1975, de Funès was hospitalized for heart problems and forced to take a break from acting, causing Le Crocodile to be cancelled. After his recovery, he appeared opposite another comic genius, Coluche, in L'Aile ou la cuisse. In 1980, de Funès realised a long-standing dream of making a film version of Molière's play, L'Avare.

De Funès made his final film, Le Gendarme et les gendarmettes, in 1982.


Unlike the characters he played, de Funès was said to be a very shy person in real life. Capable of an extremely rich and rapidly changing range of facial expressions, de Funès was nicknamed "the man with forty faces per minute." In many of his films, he played the role of a humorously excitable, cranky, middle-aged or mature man with a propensity for hyperactivity, bad faith, and uncontrolled fits of anger. Along with his short height – 1.64 m (5 ft 4+12 in) – and his facial contortions, this hyperactivity produced a highly comic effect. This was particularly visible when he was paired with Bourvil, who was always given roles of calm, slightly naive, good-humoured men. In de Funès' successful lead role in a cinematic version of Molière's The Miser (L'Avare), these characteristics are greatly muted, percolating just beneath the surface.

Later years and death

In the later part of his life, de Funès achieved great prosperity and success. He became a knight of France's Légion d'honneur in 1973. He resided in the Château de Clermont, a 17th-century château located in the commune of Le Cellier, 27 kilometers (17 mi) from Nantes in the west of France. The château, overlooking the river Loire, was inherited by his wife, whose aunt had married a descendant of Maupassant. De Funès was an aficionado of roses and planted a rose garden on the château grounds; a variety of rose was named after him: the Louis de Funès rose. A monument honoring him was erected in the château rose garden.

The tomb of Louis de Funès in Le Cellier, France
The tomb of Louis de Funès in Le Cellier, France

In his later years, de Funès suffered from a heart condition after having two heart attacks caused by the excessive strain of his stage antics. He died of a third heart attack on 27 January 1983, a few months after making his final film. He was laid to rest in the Cimetière du Cellier, the cemetery situated on the Château de Clermont grounds.


De Funès was portrayed on a postage stamp issued on 3 October 1998 by the French postal service. He was also portrayed in French comics, including as a gambler in Lucky Luke ("The One-Armed Bandit") and as a film studio worker in Clifton ("Dernière Séance"). In 2013, a museum dedicated to De Funès was created in the Château de Clermont where he had resided. In 2019, another De Funès museum opened in Saint-Raphaël, Var.


Year Title Role Director Notes
1945 La Tentation de Barbizon Le portier du paradis Jean Stelli Uncredited
1947 Six heures à perdre the driver Alex Joffé and Jean Lévitte
Last Chance Castle Bar Patron Hugging Yolande Jean-Paul Paulin Uncredited
Dernier refuge the driver Alex Joffé
Antoine et Antoinette Un garçon épicier / Un invité à la noce Jacques Becker Uncredited
1948 Croisière pour l'inconnu Le cuisinier Pierre Montazel Uncredited
1949 Du Guesclin L'astrologue / Aymérigot Marches / un seigneur / un mendiant Bernard de Latour
Mission à Tanger Le colonel espagnol André Hunebelle
Je n'aime que toi the orchestra's pianist Pierre Montazel
Vient de paraître Jacques Houssin Uncredited
Millionnaires d'un jour Philippe's solicitor André Hunebelle
1950 Au revoir M. Grock a spectator Pierre Billon Uncredited
Pas de week-end pour notre amour Constantin, domestique du baron Pierre Montazel
Mon ami Sainfoin the guide Paul-Adrien Schaye
Un certain monsieur Thomas Boudeboeuf Yves Ciampi
Rendez-vous avec la chance the waiter Emil-Edwin Reinert
Adémaï au poteau-frontière Soldier Paul Colline Uncredited
Father's Dilemma Un prete Alessandro Blasetti
His Last Twelve Hours Nicolas Luigi Zampa Uncredited
Quay of Grenelle Monsieur Vincent – le quincailler Emil E. Reinert Uncredited
The King of the Bla Bla Bla Gino Maurice Labro
Fugitive from Montreal Jean Devaivre
Street Without a King Hippolyte Marcel Gibaud
Les joueurs Piotr Petrovitch Spotniev Claude Barma TV movie
1951 Bibi Fricotin Le pêcheur Marcel Blistène
Folie douce Jean-Paul Paulin
The Straw Lover Bruno Gilles Grangier
Without Leaving an Address a father-to-be in the hospital Jean-Paul Le Chanois
The Red Rose Manito Marcello Pagliero
Dr. Knock Le malade qui a perdu 100 grammes Guy Lefranc Uncredited
Boniface somnambule Anatole Maurice Labro
The Passerby the lockmaster Henri Calef
La vie est un jeu Un voleur Raymond Leboursier
They Were Five Albert Jack Pinoteau
Le Voyage en Amérique un employee of Air France Henri Lavorel
No Vacation for Mr. Mayor the adviser Maurice Labro
Le Dindon the manager Claude Barma
La poison André Chevillard Sacha Guitry
My Wife Is Formidable a skier André Hunebelle
Un amour de parapluie Jean Laviron Short, Uncredited
Jeanne avec nous Claude Vermorel Claude Vermorel TV movie
Champions Juniors Pierre Blondy Short, Uncredited
Boîte à vendre Claude André Lalande Short, Uncredited
1952 Wolves Hunt at Night Waiter Bernard Borderie Uncredited
The Seven Deadly Sins Martin Gaston, le Français Yves Allégret (segment "Paresse, La / Sloth")
Monsieur Leguignon, Signalman Un habitant du quartier Maurice Labro
Agence matrimoniale Charles Jean-Paul Le Chanois
Love Is Not a Sin Monsieur Cottin Claude Cariven
Le jugement de Dieu an employee Raymond Bernard Uncredited
Je l'ai été trois fois the sultan's interpreter Sacha Guitry
Monsieur Taxi Le peintre qui voit rouge André Hunebelle
La Putain respectueuse the night club visitor Charles Brabant
She and Me the waiter Guy Lefranc
La Fugue de Monsieur Perle Le fou qui pêche dans un lavabo Pierre Gaspard-Huit
Le Huitième Art et la Manière Le mari fan de radio Maurice Regamey Short
La jungle en folie Claude André Lalande
1953 Le rire Himself Maurice Regamey
Tambour battant Le maître d'armes Georges Combret
La Vie d'un honnête homme Émile Sacha Guitry
Les Dents longues an employee Daniel Gélin
Au diable la vertu Monsieur Lorette Jean Laviron
The Tour of the Grand Dukes Le directeur de l'hôtel André Pellenc
The Sparrows of Paris Doctor Maurice Cloche
Les Compagnes de la nuit Client Ralph Habib Uncredited
Innocents in Paris Célestin Gordon Parry
Capitaine Pantoufle Monsieur Rachoux Guy Lefranc
Dortoir des grandes Monsieur Triboudot Henri Decoin
Légère et court vêtue Paul Duvernois Jean Laviron
Mon frangin du Sénégal Doctor Guy Lacourt
Le Chevalier de la nuit Adrien Péréduray Robert Darène
1954 Huis clos Jacqueline Audry
L'Étrange Désir de monsieur Bard Monsieur Chanteau Géza von Radványi
Le Blé en herbe Le forain Claude Autant-Lara
Les Intrigantes Monsieur Marcange Henri Decoin
Mam'zelle Nitouche Un maréchal des logis Yves Allégret
Tourments Eddy Gorlier Jacques Daniel-Norman
Le Secret d'Hélène Marimon Le jardinier Ravan Henri Calef
Faites-moi confiance Tumlatum Gilles Grangier
The Pirates of the Bois de Boulogne Le commissaire Norbert Carbonnaux
Les hommes ne pensent qu'à ça Monsieur Célosso Yves Robert
The Sheep Has Five Legs Pilate Henri Verneuil
Poisson d'avril Le garde-champêtre Gilles Grangier
Service Entrance Cesare Grimaldi Carlo Rim
Scènes de ménage Monsieur Boulingrin André Berthomieu
Ah! Les belles bacchantes Michel Lebœuf Jean Loubignac
Les Impures Le chef de train Pierre Chevalier Uncredited
Queen Margot René Bianchi Jean Dréville Uncredited
Papa, maman, la bonne et moi Monsieur Calomel Jean-Paul Le Chanois
1955 Ingrid – Die Geschichte eines Fotomodells D'Arrigio Géza von Radványi
The Babes Make the Law Jeannot la Bonne Affaire Raoul André
Napoléon Soldier Laurent Passementier Sacha Guitry Uncredited
Frou-Frou Colonel Cousinet-Duval Augusto Genina
L'impossible Monsieur Pipelet Uncle Robert André Hunebelle
Les Hussards Luigi Alex Joffé
Mädchen ohne Grenzen Géza von Radványi
Papa, maman, ma femme et moi Monsieur Calomel Jean-Paul Le Chanois
1956 Si Paris nous était conté Antoine Allègre Sacha Guitry
Bonjour sourire Monsieur Bonoeil Claude Sautet
La Bande à papa L'inspecteur Victor Eugène Merlerin Guy Lefranc
La Loi des rues Paulo – les Chiens Ralph Habib
Bébés à gogo Monsieur Célestin Ratier Paul Mesnier
Short Head Prosper / Père Grazziani / Colonel Luc de la Frapinière / Le premier garçon de Turbolaria Norbert Carbonnaux
La Traversée de Paris Jambier Claude Autant-Lara
1957 Comme un cheveu sur la soupe Pierre Cousin Maurice Regamey
1958 Ni vu, ni connu Léon Blaireau Yves Robert
Life Together Maître Stéphane, le notaire Clément Duhour
Taxi, Roulotte et Corrida Maurice Berger André Hunebelle
1959 Totò à Madrid Prof. Francisco Montiel Stefano Vanzina
I Tartassati Hector "Ettore" Curto Stefano Vanzina
Mon pote le gitan Monsieur Védrines François Gir
1960 Certains l'aiment froide Ange Galopin Jean Bastia
Candide ou l'optimisme au XXe siècle Gestapo officer Norbert Carbonnaux
Les Tortillards Emile Durand Jean Bastia
1961 Captain Fracasse Scapin Pierre Gaspard-Huit
La Belle Américaine Viralot Robert Dhéry
Dans l'eau qui fait des bulles Paul Ernzer Maurice Delbez
1962 Les Sept péchés capitaux (several)
La Vendetta Valentino Amoretti Jean Chérasse
Le Crime ne paie pas Le barman du 'Blue Bar' Gérard Oury (segment "L'homme de l'avenue")
Le Diable et les Dix Commandements Antoine Vaillant Julien Duvivier (segment "Bien d'autrui ne prendras")
The Gentleman from Epsom Gaspard Ripeux Gilles Grangier
Un clair de lune à Maubeuge Jean Chérasse Uncredited
Nous Irons A Deauville Ludovic Lambersac Francis Rigaud
1963 Les Veinards Antoine Beaurepaire Philippe de Broca and Jean Girault (segment "Un gros lot")
Carambolages Norbert Charolais Marcel Bluwal
Pouic-Pouic Léonard Monestier Jean Girault
1964 Faites Sauter la Banque Victor Garnier Jean Girault
Des pissenlits par la racine Jack Georges Lautner
Une souris chez les hommes Marcel Ravelais Jacques Poitrenaud
Year Title Role Director Co-starring Notes
1964 Le gendarme de Saint-Tropez Maréchal des logis-chef Ludovic Cruchot Jean Girault
Fantômas Commissioner Juve André Hunebelle Jean Marais, Mylène Demongeot
1965 Le Corniaud Léopold Saroyan Gérard Oury Bourvil
Les Bons Vivants Léon Haudepin Gilles Grangier and Georges Lautner Mireille Darc (segment "Bons vivants, Les")
Le gendarme à New York Maréchal des logis-chef Ludovic Cruchot Jean Girault
Fantômas se déchaîne Commissioner Juve André Hunebelle Jean Marais, Mylène Demongeot
1966 Le Grand Restaurant Monsieur Septime Jacques Besnard
La Grande Vadrouille Stanislas Lefort Gérard Oury Bourvil, Terry-Thomas
1967 Fantômas contre Scotland Yard Commissioner Juve André Hunebelle Jean Marais, Mylène Demongeot
Oscar Bertrand Barnier Édouard Molinaro
Les grandes vacances Charles Bosquier Jean Girault
1968 Le Petit Baigneur Louis-Philippe Fourchaume Robert Dhéry
Le tatoué Félicien Mézeray Denys de La Patellière Jean Gabin
Le gendarme se marie Maréchal des Logis-chef Ludovic Cruchot Jean Girault
1969 Hibernatus Hubert Barrère de Tartas Édouard Molinaro
1970 L'homme orchestre Monsieur Edouard Serge Korber
Le gendarme en balade Maréchal des logis-chef Ludovic Cruchot Jean Girault
1971 Sur un arbre perché Henri Roubier Serge Korber Geraldine Chaplin
Jo Antoine Brisebard Jean Girault
La folie des grandeurs Don Salluste de Bazan Gérard Oury Yves Montand
1973 Les aventures de Rabbi Jacob Victor Pivert
1976 L'aile ou la cuisse Charles Duchemin Claude Zidi Coluche
1978 La Zizanie Guillaume Daubray-Lacaze Annie Girardot
1979 Le gendarme et les extra-terrestres Ludovic Cruchot Jean Girault
1980 L'avare Harpagon Louis de Funès and Jean Girault
1981 La Soupe aux choux Claude Ratinier Jean Girault
1982 Le gendarme et les gendarmettes Maréchal des Logis-chef Ludovic Cruchot Jean Girault et Tony Aboyantz (final film role)

See also


  1. ^ Team, Forvo. "Louis de Funès pronunciation: How to pronounce Louis de Funès in French".
  2. ^ "Louis de Funès". IMDb.
  3. ^ Simon, Loïc. "Le Musée Louis de Funès a ouvert ses portes au Château de Clermont", (in French), 2 May 2014.
  4. ^ Musée Louis de Funès, (in French).
  5. ^ — Biografía de Louis de Funès. Consultada en abril de 2008.
  6. ^ Suárez Sandomingo, José Manuel (2015). Orteganos Ilustres. Axac.
  7. ^ Louis de Funès called Stelli Ma Chance ("My Luck") whenever they were together (Louis de Funès : Jusqu'au bout du rire, p. 43.).
  8. ^ "La Tentation de Barbizon". Le cinema de Louis. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  9. ^ Mémoires d'éléphant (Paris 1988), p. 250.
  10. ^ "French Public Favored Their Own Features in '68; 2 Yanks In Dozen". Variety. 15 January 1969. p. 41.

External links

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