Happy 128th Birthday, Maurice Chevalier!

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!

Maurice Chevalier

Happy Birthday, Lauren Bacall!

The great Lauren Bacall turns 89 years young today.

We feel a connection to her because our first apartment—a sublet where we lived just a few months—was just down the block from The Dakota, where Ms. Bacall has long resided. We were thrilled at the mere proximity to her, so we sent her a postcard on which she was pictured in her youthful, smoky prime, and she was kind enough to send it back—autographed, as we’d requested.

A few months later, we waited in line to spend money we didn’t have on a discount ticket via the Times Square TKTS booth to see her on Broadway in Woman of the Year. Truth be told, we don’t recall that much about the show, but we vividly recall Ms. Bacall passing by us as we waited by the Palace Theatre‘s stage door (actually, we seem to recall the actors departed via the front door), so close we could have reached out and touched her (we resisted).

Bacall’s plenty swell in her own right, of course, but newbie to New York that we were, we couldn’t quite believe we were standing so close to the widow of our beloved Humphrey Bogart.

We’re awfully glad she’s still going strong, and we hope she has a stupendous birthday. We encourage all Cladrite Radio readers to whistle “Happy Birthday” in her honor. You know how to whistle, don’t you? You just put your lips together and blow.