Jean Gabin in Hollywood during WWII
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Biography for
Jean Gabin
Birth name : Jean-Alexis Moncorgé
Date of birth (location)
17 May 1904,
Paris, France

Date of death (details)
15 November 1976,
Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, Île-de-France, France (heart attack)

Sometimes Credited As:  Alexis Moncourge

Jean-Alexis Moncorge started his career with 15 years at the theatre and
debuted at the "Moulin Rouge" in Paris in 1929. Despite of his rude aspect he knew to be the gentleman of the French cinema in the time between the two World Wars. One of his most popular personalities was inspector Maigret. But he was also able to play all other kind of people: aristocrats, farmers, thieves and managers. He never stopped working and when death surprised him in 1976 he was still an institution for the French audience.

Children from marriage with Dominique Fournier: Florence (1950), Valérie (1952) and Mathias (1956)
After his death the body was cremated and ashes were thrown overboard from the military ship "Détroyat".
He didn't want his daughter Florence to become an actress and tried in every way to prevent her to do. When she married a jockey against his will he didn't go to the wedding ceremony but sent a friend of his, the actor Lino Ventura.
His second wife Jeanne Mouchine was a former chorus girl of the Casino de Paris. After divorce he was sentenced to pay her 60 millions francs.

Personal quotes
About his
debut in stage show: "I understood immediately that to get success I had to make for the front door, not for the back one. And the front door was the door of Mistinguett's dressing room".

Biography from Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia:

    Ruggedly handsome French film star who specialized in playing tragic heroes of innate nobility. After working briefly as a laborer, the young Gabin danced in the Folies Bergère, graduating to stage acting and, in 1930, movies (beginning with Chacun sa chance). His breakthrough film, Maria Chapdelaine (1934), established him as a strong, stoic type. A natural, intuitive screen actor, Gabin essayed memorable roles in Zouzou (1934, opposite Josephine Baker), The Lower Depths (1936), Pepe le Moko (in the title role), Grand Illusion (both 1937), àLa Bte Humaine (1938), Daybreak (1939), The Room Upstairs (1946), Le Plaisir (1951), French CanCan, Napoleon (both 1954), éLes Misrables (1957, as Jean Valjean), Inspector Maigret (the first of a popular series, in the title role), Crime and Punishment (both 1958), Any Number Can Win (1963), The Sicilian Clan (1969), and L'Année Sainte (1976, his last film).

    Gabin had a brief sojourn in Hollywood during the 1940s, resulting in Moontide (1942) and The Imposter (1944). After years of playing strong-willed iconoclasts, antiheroes, and everyman characters, Gabin (like his American counterpart Spencer Tracy) gracefully aged into the very embodiment of self-assuredness and respectability-but always with a bit of his soul shining through.

    Copyright ©1994 Leonard Maltin, used by arrangement with Signet, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc.

The above Information courtesy of The Internet Movie Database.  Used with permission. 
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MORE from the Film Forum:

Born in 1904, Gabin was the child of music hall artists. At age 18 he followed in their footsteps, becoming a music hall and operetta star, and played leading man to the legendary Mistinguett. He continued to sing into his early film career, even when cast as the young Parisian street tough (as in Anatole Litvak's neglected 1932 minor masterpiece, Coeur de Lilas). Julien Duvivier was the first to recognize his full dramatic potential and cast him in La Bandera (1935), La Belle Equipe (1935) and Pépé le Moko (1937), three films that laid the foundation for the Gabin myth of the tragic working-class (or déclassé) hero. Gabin's talents were magnified by several other great French directors of the time: Renoir in The Lower Depths, La Bête Humaine and La Grande Illusion (re-released by Rialto in 1999), Jean Grémillon and Marcel Carné whose pre-war masterpieces Quai des Brumes and Le Jour se lève owe as much to Gabin's performances as they due to Jacques Prévert's screenplays for their lasting power and poignancy.

With the war and the Occupation, Gabin went into exile in the United States where he made two undistinguished Hollywood films (Moontide and The Imposter) before returning home with the Free French forces. His post-war career got off to a rocky start when he and his then-companion Marlene Dietrich abandoned Marcel Carné's Les Portes de la Nuit, but he successfully negotiated his eventual screen gentrification, moving away from doomed working class heros to embody middle-class patriarchs and gentlemen gangsters. Though increasingly less selective about his roles and directors, Gabin racked up some distinguished credits in the 50s that included Max Ophuls' Le Plaisir (1952), Jacques Becker's Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954), Duvivier's Voici les Temps des Assassins (1955) and Claude Autant-Lara's La Traversée de Paris (1956) and En Cas de Malheur (1959). He continued to make films right up to his death in 1976.

And still more
(Don't laugh.  It was translated from the French by the Google search engine):

He is a normannische farmer with ponderous course, which plays thoughtful commissioner Maigret with the whistle in the mundwinkel, he convinced as Clochard as much as as a distinguished gentleman and just as galant and experienced the gynecologist "Dr. Laurant": Jean Gabin.

And the French character actor is again and again in completely many facets as through-trieven, clever, in the long run also melancholische gangster as in the cult film "if it night becomes in Paris" or the public hit " the clan of the Sicilians " (1969). Here Alain Delon is its opponent, in "an ape in the winter" (1961) travels it however with Jean Jean-Paul Belmondo by country.

it receives the Coppa Volpi for the role of the blind Lokomotivfuehrers in Georges Lacombes to 1951 with the Festival in Venice "the night is my realm". Three years later it is distinguished at the same place again than former Gangsterboss, which withdrew itself into Jacques Becker s "if it night into Paris" as an owner of bar.

1959 it with the Berlinale for its komoediantische role in Giles Grangiers "in the Kittchen is no room freely" excellently, 1971 daselbst as partners of Simone Signoret into " the cat ". it the Frenchmen with the Cesar for its life's work honour finally 1976. On 15 November of the same yearly Gabin in Neuilly dies sur its.

The play was appropriate already give in father in the blood, who plays small opera roles, the nut/mother sings in the Cafés of concerts, the son wants first around everything in the world not on the stage. Thus it runs away with twelve from at home, in addition, because it does not have desire to learn. Six years long it tingelt by country, works soon as a laufbursche, drags stones on the building, is a storekeeper and mechanic. With 18 years it is it wrong, it decreases/goes back home and lets themselves in then - still without large desire - nevertheless on the theatre.

With the Folies Bergéres it begins as a statist. As a singer in Vaudeville pieces it begins, at the Bouffes Parisiens comes it slowly, but surely upward, the charming young man pleases the public. Give in success is so large that it undertakes soon a singing tour into the province. Finally it goes also to South America. That is 1927, one year later plays and sings it in the Music resounds the Moulin rouge. The Mistinguette is the star and it helps the good-looking young man like before the large Maurice Chevallier.

Then the film comes. For the first time it stands under the direction of the German Hans stone-hopes before the camera. "everyone the piece, which used Gabin also for itself, is called its chance". The beginning is laborious, the roles does not assure to it often not. "only two directors could me which give, Duvivier and Renoir . Duvivier is the personifizierte precision, it escapes not the smallest detail. Renoir is the smooth opposite: it often showed me, how much one can reach with improvisation and fantasy." That said Jean Gabin 1964 in an interview with the Figaro Literaire.

Reliably "night shelter" (1936) belongs, " the large illusion " (1937), to " Pépé le Moko - in the darkness of Algiers ", "Marie Chapdelaine" and " Bestie humans " to the most important films give in, but the work with Marcel Carné and Jacques Prévert - above all "port in the fog" and "the day breaks on" (1939), as well as Jacques Beckers Gangstermelodram "if it night becomes in Paris" is not less significant in the career of the actor.

Further films with Jean Gabin: René Clément s "the walls of Malapaga" (1948), Henri Verneuil s "the way in spoiling" (1955), Renoirs "French CAN CAN" (1955), Gilles Grangiers "gas oil" (1955), Sacha Guitrys " Napoleon " (1955), Duviviers " the angel, the one devil was " (1956), Claude Autant Lara s "two men, a pig and the night of Paris" (1956), Jean Delannoys " commissioner Maigret places a trap " (1957), Jean Jean-Paul Le Chanois ' "the Miserablen" (1958), Denys de la Patellières "the large families" (1958), Gilles Grangiers "the sky is already sells off" (1960) and "the gentleman with the millions" (1961) as well as "a gentleman from best circles" (1962), Gilles Grangiers "commissioner Maigret" (1963), Jean Jean-Paul Le Chanois ' "blooms, gauner and the night of Nice" (1966), Jean Delannoys "Action one" (1967) sees Henri new ILS "sound lot like the night" (1962) red, Georges Lautner "the bull" (1967), Denys de la Patellières " Balduin, the night ghost ", Claude Bernard Auberts " the affair Dominici " (1973), José Giovanni s "last stop scaffold" (1973), André Cayattes "the judgement" (1974).

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