Louis Jourdan, Star of Octopussy and Gigi, dies at 93

Louis Jourdan, Star of Octopussy and Gigi, dies at 93

Credit: Getty Images

The French actor Louis Jourdan, who played multiple roles in European movies and American movies over the years was reported dead by his biographer Oliver Minne. French publication Le Point reported that Louis Jourdan died at the age of 93 on Saturday, February 14th in his Beverly Hills home in L.A.

Quite and private, Louis Jourdan has made an impact in movies in the later part of the 20th century in movies. Born in Marseilles, the actor was first cast in a Marc Allégret movie “La Corsaire”. The film was never completed because of the outbreak of the World War II but towards its end, Allégret had signed Jourdan on for more projects and Jourdan often worked as an assistant director to him. they made multiple movies during the Occupation era. When Jourdan’s father was arrested by Gestapo’s men, the actor joined the Resistance.

He then moved to the United States. Hollywood soon found this charming and handsome young Frenchman. David O. Selznick cast Jourdan in the courtroom drama “The Paradine Case” (1947) despite the protests from the movie’s director Alfred Hitchcock. Alfred commented that casting Jourdan had ruined the plot of the movie. Despite their differences, Jourdan attended Hitchcock’s funeral in 1980.

His role in the movie “Letter From an Unknown Woman” in 1948 as a concert pianist who seduces Joan Fontaine was a success. It was based on Max Ophuls’s romantic tragedy of the same name. Jourdan portrayed a handsome man who is hollow from the inside. His next role came in Vincente Minnelli’s film version of “Madame Bovary” where he played her coveted lover Rodolphe.

The role was followed by Jourdan portraying the handsome European gentlemen in multiple film roles. His next big break was working with Minnelli again in the 1958 hit musical “Gigi” against Leslie Caron. The movie was nominated and won nine Oscar awards. Jourdan didn’t get lucky at the Oscars but surely picked up a Golden Globe as the Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. 

While doing movies in Hollywood, Jourdan also performed on Broadway. He also went to Europe to feature in multiple movies like Rue de l’Estrapade. His performances were highly acclaimed but he never quite enjoyed the spotlight. 

With age, the demand of handsome European started to be met with much younger faces and Jourdan’s aging led him towards another genre of roles. With aging days, he was cast in the Swamp Thing and it’s sequel to play the role of Dr. Anton Arcane. He then played the most coveted role of his life in Octopussy as Kamal Khan. The villain James Bond has to save the world from.

Mr. Jourdan continued to work in movies as a villain including Columbo in 1978 and Count Dracula for BBC. His last work was in 1992 in Year of the Comet where he was once again playing the villain. 

He was a very reserved man. He kept his life very personal. He was married to Berthe Frederique who died last year. His son had died in 1981 due to a drud overdose and his brother, Pierre Jourdan who was also a director died in 2007.

So Louis was very much alone except from his official autobiographer Oliver Minne. Oliver was the one who found and confirmed Jourdan’s to the police and press. Even if many of us don’t remember him, Jourdan was a great Hollywood actor who deserves to be remembered with good words.


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