October 27, 2021

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Louis de Funes was playing on screen, but he was hiding a dark story.  The king of comedy has never had an easy life

Louis de Funes was playing on screen, but he was hiding a dark story. The king of comedy has never had an easy life

Although Louis de Funes was a star in the 1960s, his roles continued to be played regardless of the passage of time. The screen actor found himself at home in French comedy. However, his private life was not a rose, and he had reasons to laugh as if there was medicine. Before he became an actor, he was poor, and he didn’t start making big money until he turned 50. He had everything the average person would want to avoid – unhappy childhoods and failed marriages. When things started to go downhill – his health stopped improving.

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Luis de Funes played on screen but hid a dark story

Louis de Funes was born in 1914 in a small town near Paris. In fact, he was Spanish and hailed from a family with aristocratic roots. His parents immigrated to France ten years before his birth. They fled because the actor’s grandfather opposed this marriage. Louis was the youngest of three siblings. My father had a respectable profession – he was a lawyer, but he gave it up to trade in diamonds. He was looking for these even Venezuela, which is why he did not participate in the upbringing of his country children. He returned after many years of bankruptcy. Instead of making a fortune, he owed a debt that soon became de Fonissa’s mother. Leonor Soto Reguera, because this is the name of the actor’s mother, became his biggest inspiration for future comedic roles. Living with her was not easy. She was Collie and had mood swings. Her Spanish temperament made him feel the same. Explosions and gestures are the hallmarks of the incarnation of the actor in his film characters.

Louis de Funes in the movie Louis de Funes in “Gendarme and Aliens” Rolf Gebhardt / Wikimedia Commons / Domina Publications

As a child, he was taciturn, deep in dreams. Already at school, he showed acting talent – he made fun of teachers. He played his first role in the theater at the age of twelve, where he played the role of … a gendarme. After primary school, he chose a vocational school, from which he was expelled for hateful behavior. He wasn’t sure which direction he should go. Try different professions. He wanted to join the army, but the commission refused him because of his short stature – his height was 164 cm, and his stature was also slender – he weighed only 55 kg. Later, he had several dismissals from work. He decorated storefronts, was an assistant accountant and a painter. His parents reached out to him because he couldn’t take any job. My mother hoped he would become a priest. Louis de Funes declared himself very religious. Eventually he went to art school and began to find himself there. He was passionate about cinema.

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At the age of 22, he married Germaine Louise Elodie Carwire, who was the French tennis champion. A year later, the couple’s only son, Daniel, was born. However, after three years, the marriage broke up. After the divorce, de Funes also cut off contacts with his son (and later did not include him in his will). It was 1939 and World War II broke out. Lewis was conscripted into the reserve for two years. Later, he worked in Parisian clubs and bars, where he played the piano. It was then that he knew he wanted to act as an actor. He happened to play an episode on stage, but it wasn’t enough for his life. He earned some extra money by teaching piano and playing in bars. He met his future second wife in a theater workshop, and in 1943 the couple stood on a wedding carpet. Jane Augustine Barthelemy came from an aristocratic family. The fruits of marriage were two sons – Olivier and Patrick. When the adults went in the opposite direction, the first became a pilot and the other a doctor. The second wife for Louis de Funes was not only a lifelong love, but later also his agent. I advised him, and negotiated terms and prices with managers.

Louis de FunesLouis de Funes Foot. TV screen

French films - see the best suggestions for a successful showFrench films – find out the best suggestions for a successful show

Only three years after the wedding, the actor – who was then 34 years old – got his first role in a movie. It was the painting “The Temptation of Barbizon”, and the scene in which he appeared lasted … 43 seconds. However, that was enough and he could count on more suggestions. He spent the fifties mainly in the theater, but 1956 turned out to be a breakthrough. Then he starred in the comedy drama “Black Market in Paris”, playing the role of Jambier, the iconic character of the choleric. Thanks to this role, he began to gain popularity, and later came his “golden age”.

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The actor’s career flourished in the sixties, and he was later asked if he regretted that he did not start succeeding until after the age of fifty, and he answered in one of the interviews:

It allowed me to get to know my profession accurately. When I was still unknown, I tried to color the small roles entrusted to me using details, facial expressions and gestures. Thanks to this, I got a certain comic workshop, without which I would not be able to pursue this profession. So, if I had to start over, I would do the same.

The most popular of them was created in the 60’s Films starring him. The first part of the gendarmerie series – “Soldier of Saint-Tropez” – attracted seven million French to the theaters. The dizzying success of the film made him the most popular comedian in the country. His role in “The Great Vagabond” in 1966 earned him an Academy Award nomination. There were a total of six films in the Gendarmerie series, “Fantomas”, “Big holidaysThe famous “restaurant” Kapuśniaczek. In 1973 he was awarded the Knight of the Legion of Honor by the President of France for his great contribution to art.

Louis de Funes as a gendarmeLouis de Funes as a gendarme Foot. TV screen

However, intense work in the 70s took its toll on the actor and his health deteriorated. Two years after receiving the award, he was hospitalized with a severe heart attack. This kept him in bed for several months, and he had to go on a diet and quit the cigarettes he’d had for years. Then slowed down a little. His films from the post-heart attack period include “Wings or a Foot”, “Gentlemen Take Care of Your Wives”, “The Gendarmerie and the Foreigners” and “Scrooge”. After working on the latter – in 1980, the actor had a second heart attack. He survived and starred in two more films – “Kapuśniaczek” and the last part of the adventures of the gendarmes – “The Gendarmerie and the Policewomen”. The seventh part was planned, but the plans were thwarted by de Funes’ death. During a family trip to the mountains in late 1982, the actor contracted the flu. After returning home in January, he tried to heal himself while lying in bed. On January 27, 1983, he told his wife that he was tired and went to bed early. Around 7 p.m., he had a third heart attack. Although he was taken to the hospital, he died two hours later. He was under 69 years old.

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Years later Olivier de Funes wrote a book mentioning his father. The actor was not an angel in life or in work.

He was a perfectionist. He hated being outdated, liar, dirty clothes. When one of his friends isn’t doing his best, my dad gets tantrums. Then he became a tyrant. He stopped shooting and did not want to continue until he was convinced that his colleague was ready enough – he described the actor’s son.

Daniel, De Funes’ eldest son from his first marriage, died in 2017 without having a relationship with his father.

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