Actor, singer and rake Maurice Chevalier was born 128 years ago today in Paris, France. Here are 10 MC Did-You-Knows:
- Chevalier began his show biz career at age 13, singing in a local cafe.
- At 27, Chevalier was involved briefly with an performer named Fréhel, among France’s biggest stars of the day. She helped him get his first major role, in a show in Marseille called l’Alcazar, for which his critical notices were very positive.
- Chevalier once served as sparring partner to former light heavyweight champion of the world, boxer Georges Carpentier.
- Chevalier spent two years as a prisoner of war in Germany during World War I.
- Chevalier moved to London in 1917 and found success there at the Palace Theatre; he went on to make his Broadway debut in 1922 in the operetta Dédé.
- When talkies arrived, Chevalier headed for Hollywood, debuting in Innocents of Paris in 1929.
- By 1930, Chevalier had earned the only two Oscar nominations of her career, both in the Best Actor in a Leading Role category, for The Love Parade (1930), directed by Ernst Lubitsch, and The Big Pond (1930).
- In 1959, Chevalier was awarded a special Oscar for his half-century of contributions to the world of entertainment.
- Chevalier is said to have been very tight-fisted. When he was on contract with Paramount Pictures, he balked at the ten cents a day he was expected to pay for parking in the studio lot; he was able to negotiate a rate of a nickel a day instead.
- Chevalier’s accent in pictures was reportedly something of a put-on. He actually became quite fluent in English and spoke with only a slight accent. But he knew which side his croissant was buttered on.
Happy birthday, Maurice Chevalier, wherever you may be!