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13 Things You Might Not Know About Louis Jourdan, Star of GIGI and SWAMP THING

Find out more about the enigmatic star of Octopussy and Swamp Thing, Louis Jourdan. Sadly, the great French actor Louis Jordan died Saturday February 14, 2015 at the age of 93. He appeared in dozens of notable films including The Paradine Case (1947), Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), Gigi (1958), The Best of Everything (1959), The V.I.P.s (1963) and Octopussy (1983). To me, my favorite role is in the classic Wes Craven film Swamp Thing (1982) as Dr. Anton Arcane.

Here are some things you might not know about him.

1. Louis Jourdan was born Louis Robert Gendre in June 19, 1921. He changed his name to Pierre Jourdan, then to Louis Jourdan when he became an actor.

2. In 1939 Jourdan almost appeared in his first movie, Le Corsaire opposite Charles Boyer, but filming was interrupted by the Second World War and was never resumed.

3. Jourdan was captured by the Nazis and assigned to a work gang and spent a year of long, grueling hours cutting wood, building roads and digging ditches.

4. After he was released by the Nazis, he was ordered to go back to the occupied French movie studios where production was restarting. "They didn’t want pictures," he recalls, "they wanted propaganda. They permitted no freedom, and, where there is no freedom, there can be no art."

5. He began to work with the French underground and said simply, "I was given work to do and I did it. I worked on illegal leaflets, helping to print and distribute them."  While Jourdan downplayed his work, to the Nazis this was a crime punishable by death had he been caught.

6. Jourdan later moved to Hollywood where he worked with stars such as Joan Fontaine, Jennifer Jones, Grace Kelly and Shirley MacLaine during the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s. The peak of his career was in 1957 with the Lerner and Loewe musical "Gigi." The film won nine Academy Awards including "Best Picture."

7. On the 1970 British television science fiction television series UFO he was offered the role of Colonel Paul Foster, but he turned the part down because "it was really not a big enough role for him." At the last minute, the producers found Michael Billington in Los Angeles.

8. In 1977, he played the title role in the BBC production of Count Dracula. It's considered one of the more faithful adaptations of the Bram Stoker novel despite the fact that the Transylvanian is played by a Frenchman.

9. In the James Bond movie Moonraker (1979) they were originally going to casting Louis Jourdan as the villain Drax, who was later played by Michael Lonsdale. Jourdan went on to play Afghan prince Kamal Khan in "Octopussy"

10. In the movie Swamp Thing, Jourdan played evil scientist Anton Arcane who caused the accident that turned him into Swamp Thing. In the final fight Arcane was supposed to turn into a wolf-like beast, but the make-up designer felt werewolves were overdone and turned him into a different creature.

11. On the movie Return of Swamp Thing (1989) director Jim Wynorski wanted him to refer to the character of Miss Poinsettia, played by Monique Gabrielle, as "Points". Jourdan refused because he knew the nickname "Points" was a reference to her breasts. Wynorski asked Jourdan, "Weren't you just in a movie called Octopussy?" According to the director's commentary Jourdan actor refused to speak to the director for most of the shoot after that.

12. After his early success Jourdan was tired of being stereotyped as a romantic lead. He thought of himself as a "French cliche" and complained to Coronet magazine in 1960, "My basic disagreement with producers was that I didn't want to be perpetually cooing in a lady's ear. There is not much aesthetic satisfaction in it."

11. Jourdan was named as a chevalier, or knight, of the French Legion of Honor in 2010.

What was your favorite role of Jourdan?

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  1. I don't think I've seen any of those movies.

  2. At least he got to be in a Bond film. And I've definitely seen all of those.
    Propaganda films. Similar to what was portrayed in Inglorious Bastards then.

  3. I wasn't aware of the Nazis part.
    My parents wouldn't let me see Octopussy. ;-(
    We need a new Swamp Thing with Constantine in it.

  4. He was a wonderful talent - and I loved learning these facts about him. Thank you!


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