He was the most popular frenchman in America…

Maurice Chevalier, in 1935.

Anonymous vintage photo, gelatin silver, dedicated by Maurice Chevalier: “Cordialement, Maurice Chevalier ” (handwritten)

MC

Size: 8″½ h x 6″½ w

Maurice Auguste Chevalier (September 12, 1888 – January 1, 1972) was a French actor, singer and entertainer. He is perhaps best known for his signature songs, including Louise, Mimi, Valentine, and Thank Heaven for Little Girls and for his films, including The Love Parade and The Big Pond. His trademark attire was a boater hat, which he always wore on stage with a tuxedo.

Chevalier was born in Paris. He made his name as a star of musical comedy, appearing in public as a singer and dancer at an early age before working in four menial jobs as a teenager. In 1909, he became the partner of the biggest female star in France at the time, Fréhel. Although their relationship was brief, she secured him his first major engagement, as a mimic and a singer in l’Alcazar in Marseille, for which he received critical acclaim by French theatre critics. In 1917, he discovered jazz and ragtime and went to London, where he found new success at the Palace Theatre.

After this, he toured the United States, where he met the American composers George Gershwin and Irving Berlin and brought Dédé to Broadway in 1922. He also developed an interest in acting, and had success in the operetta Dédé. When talkies arrived, he went to Hollywood in 1928, where he played his first American role in Innocents of Paris. In 1930, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his roles in The Love Parade (1929) and The Big Pond (1930), which secured his first big American hit, Livin’ in the Sunlight, Lovin’ in the Moonlight.

In 1957, he appeared in Love in the Afternoon, which was his first Hollywood film in more than 20 years. In the early 1960s, he made eight films, including Can-Can in 1960 and Fanny the following year. In 1970 he made his final contribution to the film industry where he sang the title song of the Disney film The Aristocats. He died in Paris, on January 1, 1972, aged 83.

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