Does the name Louis Jourdan ring a bell to you ? If not, ask your grand-mother and she will go wobbly at the knees instantly ! With his delicate features, Jourdan is still the epitome of the handsome debonair French lover. He co-starred in movies with iconic figures such as Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly, Liz Taylor, and many more.
Louis Jourdan was spotted by the U.S. movie mogul David O. Selznick and headed for Hollywood right after the Second World War. He embodied either the ideal beau and soon to be son-in-law or the heartthrob that would cunningly blend smooth-talking and good-boy attitude. The fear of being typecast as the charming playboy made him quickly uncomfortable with his status of exotic and suave Hollywood sex-symbol. He tried to avoid the cliché and managed to assert himself in a darker role when he debued on Broadway. He was then cast as Doris Day’s villainous psychotic husband in the movie « Julie » and years later in « Octopussy » with Roger Moore as James Bond. The musicals « Gigi » and « Can-Can », co-starring Frank Sinatra and Shirley Maclaine contributed to him having his star on the Walk of Fame.
Olivier Minne, who has been the leading presenter of numerous shows on French TV for the past twenty years, including the popular game « Fort Boyard », is fascinated by Louis Jourdan’s career. Olivier had the idea of doing something nobody had done before : writing Jourdan’s biography. Never would Olivier have thought that the day he went and knocked at the former actor’s door, the latter, who had been living in seclusion for years in his home in Beverly Hills, would open his door and accept to tell Olivier about his life. From the day they first met in 2010 until Jourdan’s death five years later, they would spend entire afternoons and evenings talking. When entering a timewarp home filled with souvenirs and memories, Olivier unburied a fascinating time capsule. That was also the beginning of a real friendship with Jourdan who would often turn off his TV when one of his movies was broadcast. Jourdan had a Don Juan image in his films but remained married to his long time French wife for almost 70 years. He chafed at being pigeonholed as a Lothario but, true to his Valentine’s image, the Hollywood’s favourite French lover passed away on Saint Valentine’s Day in 2015 at the age of 93.
The biography does not only paint a comprehensive portrait of Jourdan, it also depicts Hollywood’s star-making machinery. Well written and perfectly documented, Olivier Minne’s book is definitely worth reading.
Article by Cyriaque Griffon