Jean Gabin


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French film and theatre actor.

Gabin was born in Mériel. His first job was as a building worker, but encouraged by his father, who was a music-hall comedian, he joined the Folies-Bergère as a singer and dancer. He eventually became leading man at the Folies and in 1930 made his first film, Chacun sa chance. Soon Gabin had established himself as the most popular actor in France with forceful dramatic performances in such films as Coeur de Lilas (1931), Maria Chapdelaine (1934), which won the Grand Prix du Cinéma Français, Pépé le Moko (1936), and Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion (1937).

During the occupation of France, Gabin went to Hollywood, where he made his least successful films, Moontide and The Imposter (both 1942). In 1943 he joined the Free French Forces, with which he was still serving when Paris was liberated. Back in his native France after the war, he soon re-established his career and went on to make such remarkable films as Carné's La Marie du port (1949) and to win a Cannes Award for L'Air de Paris (1954). His outstanding postwar performance came in Un Singe en hiver (1962; A Monkey In Winter).

With Fernandel (1903–71) he founded Gafer Films, a production company, in 1963. He continued to make films throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, his last being L'Année sainte (1976).

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — Literature.

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