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Louis de Funès was a French actor and comedian. With his roles in over 130 films, he became the most popular actor in his homeland. In addition, he is the epitome of successful humor in his work in many other European countries. He actually started out as a pianist, but then switched to acting. In it, his art of the grimace made him world famous, while at the same time he created the high art of the comic tantrum. Active from 1945 until his death from a heart attack in 1983, he lived until the end in a chateau near Nantes.
Early life of Louis de Funes
Since the families of his Spanish parents were against their marriage, they moved from Seville to Courbevoie, a suburb of Paris, in 1904. Her son Louis was born here in 1914. In his youth, the then inconspicuous Louis de Fués was enthusiastic about drawing and playing the piano. He soon dropped out of university and worked as a jazz pianist, mainly at the famous Pigalle in Paris. Already here he finds that he easily and frequently made the audience laugh with his grimaces. He then took acting lessons for a year, which gave him some contacts that would be helpful to him later on. At the time of the German occupation of Paris, he continued to work as a pianist. Excessive self-doubt prevented him from pursuing the career as an actor that he actually aspired to. His short height of only 1.64 meters and the fact that he had less and less hair on his head at a young age also contributed to this.
Career of Louis de Funès
Nevertheless, he finally decided, not least because of the support of his wife, to put his money on the acting card from 1945 onwards. At first he had to keep his head above water with numerous insignificant supporting roles. He was 31 when he made his film debut. In his first role, he spent a total of 40 seconds on screen. Nevertheless, Louis de Funès persevered. However, it took him 80 minor roles before he finally landed his first starring role in a film. Until then he had supported himself and his family (he had two children with his wife) with dubbing work and roles in the theater.
Eventually he made his breakthrough as an actor who was valued first in France and then in almost all of Europe. His proliferation of grimaces earned him the nickname “the man with 40 grimaces a minute.” In 1956 he had his first smaller but well-recognized success as the butcher Jambier in “La Traversée de Paris”. In 1963, he finally made the transition to becoming a star in French films. “Pouic-Pouic” was the name of the film by Jean Girault, with whom he almost always worked, which made Louis de Funés a celebrated comedian. Ultimate fame came to him with the huge success of The Gendarme de St. Tropez, which was released in 1964.
Highlights of Louis de Funès’ career
That would possibly be the most successful film by Louis de Funés ever. The comedian celebrated other great successes with “Louis, the miser”, “Breast or Club” and “Louis and his extraterrestrial cabbages”. Almost every film with him became a success after his breakthrough. From the mid-1960s, his works also became immensely popular outside of France. In Germany in particular, he remained extremely popular until his death and far beyond. This was partly due to a dubbing of his films that was far removed from the original. His most demanding film is “The Adventures of Rabbi Jacob” from 1973, which attracted over 7 million people to the cinema in France alone. However, his most successful role throughout his life was that of gendarme in St. Tropez. Several episodes of this series had already appeared in the 1960s, but he revived this character in the late 1970s – again with great success with the public.
Famous quotes from Louis de Funès
“Laughter is to the soul what oxygen is to the lungs.”
“Some people have become fathers without their wives noticing.”
“Blackout is a wonderful antidote to talkativeness. It works on parrots, it should be used on humans too.”
Amazing facts about Louis de Funès
Because of his great popularity in France, de Funès hired a bodyguard who protected him from overly intrusive admirers during public appearances.
His second wife, to whom he was married for over 40 years, was a relative of Guy de Maupassant.
It is little known that he also read numerous classical works on disc.
In private, he was considered a quiet and reserved character, in complete contrast to his tantrums on stage and screen. His passion was growing roses at his chateau in the Loire.