Louis Jourdan, the suave and dapper French actor who made memorable appearances in such films as Gigi and Octopussy, has died. A family friend said Jourdan died Saturday at his Beverly Hills home. He was 93.
Jourdan was born Louis Gendre on June 19, 1921 in Marseilles. He was educated in France, Britain and Turkey and studied to be an actor at the Ecole Dramatique before getting his first film role in 1939 as war clouds gathered over Europe. During WWII, when the German Gestapo arrested his father, he and two brothers joined the French Resistance, and he put his acting career on hold.
He came to the United States in the late 1940s and appeared in films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s The Paradine Case and later Max Ophuls’ Letter From An Unknown Woman.
He had a breakthrough role in Vincente Minnelli’s adaptation of the beloved French novella Gigi, playing opposite Leslie Caron and fellow Frenchman Maurice Chevalier. The film won nine Oscars, while Jourdan was nominated for a Golden Globe. He also played one of the romantic interests in Minnelli’s version of Madame Bovary.
In 1956, he played Doris Day’s jealous husband in the Oscar-nominated Julie. He also appeared in Broadway shows during the 1950s, including stagings of The Immoralist and Tonight In Samarkand, and appeared in television shows from very early in the medium’s commercial existence, including roles in shows such as Studio One In Hollywood and The Ford Television Theater.
In 1969, he starred opposite Mary Tyler Moore in the noted TV movie Run A Crooked Mile.
Later in his career, he had high-profile roles as the villain in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy and Wes Craven’s Swamp Thing (1982). He also appeared in two versions of The Count Of Monte Cristo, in a 1961 film and a 1975 television version that starred Richard Chamberlain. He’d later reunite with Chamberlain in a TV adaptation of The Man In The Iron Mask.
He continued working until the early 1990s in film, TV and Broadway but retired in 1992 after appearing in Year Of The Comet. He was awarded France’s Legion D’Honneur in 2010 at a Los Angeles ceremony.