Gérard Philipe

Gérard Philipe (4 December 1922 – 25 November 1959) was a prominent French actor who appeared in 34 films between 1944 and 1959. Active in both theater and cinema, he was, until his untimely death, one of the main stars of the post-war period. His image has remained youthful and romantic, which has made him one of the icons of French cinema.

Gérard Philipe
S.Kragujevic, Gérard Philipe 1955.JPG
Philipe in 1955
Gérard Albert Philip

(1922-12-04)4 December 1922
Died25 November 1959(1959-11-25) (aged 36)
Paris, France
Years active1944–1959
Nicole Fourcade
m. 1951)

Life and careerEdit

Early lifeEdit

"Theatre is a social issue, like all artistic questions." (Quotation from Gérard Philipe on a pillar of the Théâtre des Abbesses, Paris.)

Born Gérard Albert Philip[1] in Cannes in a well-off family, he was of one quarter Czech ancestry from his maternal grandmother.[2] His father, Marcel Philip (1893–1973), was a barrister and businessman in Cannes; his mother was Maria Elisa "Minou" Philip, née Vilette (1894–1970). On his mother's advice, in 1944 Gérard changed his surname from "Philip" to "Philipe".

As a teenager Philipe took acting lessons before going to Paris to study at the Conservatoire of Dramatic Art.

Early FilmsEdit

Philipe made his film debut in Les Petites du quai aux fleurs (1943), directed by Marc Allégret, in an uncredited role.

He had a minor role in Box of Dreams (1945) then was third billed in Land Without Stars (1946) after Jani Holt and Pierre Brasseur; George Lacombe wrote and directed.[3]

When he was 19 years old, he made his stage debut at a theater in Nice; and the following year his strong performance in the Albert Camus play Caligula made his reputation.[4]


Philippe had a lead role in The Idiot (1946), an adaptation of the novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky, co-starring Edwige Feuillère for director Georges Lampin. This was widely seen overseas and established Philippe as a leading man. He was in Ouvert pour cause d'inventaire (1946), a short film that was an early work for Alain Renais.[5][6]

He was invited to work with the Théâtre national populaire (T.N.P.) in Paris and Avignon, whose festival, founded in 1947 by Jean Vilar, is France's oldest and most famous.

Philippe gained fame as a result of his performance in Claude Autant-Lara's Devil in the Flesh (1947), alongside Micheline Presle.[7] It was a huge box office success.[8]

He went on to star in La Chartreuse de Parme (1948) for director Christian-Jacque, which was even more popular than Devil in the Flesh. He followed it with Such a Pretty Little Beach (1949) for Yves Allegret; All Roads Lead to Rome (1949), a reunion with Presle, for Jean Boyer; and Beauty and the Devil (1950) for Rene Clair.[8]

Philippe was one of several stars in Max Ophuls' version of La Ronde (1950). He followed it with another all-star film, Lost Souvenirs (1951) for Christian-Jacques.

In 1951, Philipe married Nicole Fourcade (1917–1990), an actress/writer, with whom he had two children. She adopted the pseudonym, Anne Philipe, and wrote about her husband in two books, the first called Souvenirs (1960) and a second biography titled Le Temps d'un soupir (No Longer Than a Sigh, 1963).

Philippe was in Juliette, or Key of Dreams (1951) with Suzanne Cloutier for Marcel Carne; The Seven Deadly Sins (1952), an all-star anthology film; and Fan Fan the Tulip (1953), a swashbuckling adventure with Gina Lollobrigida for Christian-Jacque which was very popular.[9][10]

He was in Beauties of the Night (1952), again with Lollobrigida, and Martine Carol, directed by Clair; The Proud and the Beautiful (1953) with Michele Morgan; two more all-star anthologies: It Happened in the Park (1953) and Royal Affairs in Versailles (1954).

Philippe tried an English movie, Lovers, Happy Lovers! (1954) (also known as Knave of Hearts), directed by Rene Clement and co-starring Valerie Hobson.

He then did The Red and the Black (1954) with Danielle Darrieux and had a big success with The Grand Maneuver (1955) for Rene Clair, co-starring Morgan.[8]

Phillippe did The Best Part (1956) for Yves Allegret and was one of many stars in If Paris Were Told to Us (1956).

He wrote, directed and starred in Bold Adventure (1956), a comic adventure film.[11]

He starred in Lovers of Paris (1957) for Julien Duvivier and Montparnasse 19 (1958) for Jacques Becker. He was one of many stars in Life Together (1958) and top billed in The Gambler (1958).

In 1958 he went to New York and performed on Broadway in the all-French Lorenzaccio and Le Cid.

Phillipe played Valmont in Roger Vadim's modern day version of Les liaisons dangereuses (1959), appearing alongside Jeanne Moreau.[12]

His last film was Fever Mounts at El Pao (1960) for Luis Buñuel.[13]


He died from liver cancer while working on a film project in Paris, a few days short of his 37th birthday. (His doctors concealed from him the nature of his disease.) In accordance with his last wishes, he is buried, dressed in the costume of Don Rodrigue (The Cid), in the village cemetery in Ramatuelle, Var near the Mediterranean Sea coast.[14]

To commemorate the centenary of the cinema in 1995, the French government issued a series of limited edition coins that included a 100 franc coin bearing the image of Philipe. Among the most popular French actors of modern times, he has been elevated to mythic status in his homeland, not least because of his early death at the peak of his popularity.

In 1986, his portrait appeared on a French commemorative postage stamp. There is a film festival named in his honour as well as a number of theatres and schools (such as the College Gérard Philipe - Cogolin) in various parts of France. In Germany he has been scarcely less respected than in his native country; a cultural centre is named after him in Berlin.

Gérard Philipe Street in Paris



Year Title Role Director Notes
1944 Les Petites du quai aux fleurs Jérôme Hardy Marc Allégret
1945 La boîte aux rêves Un homme Yves Allégret and Jean Choux Uncredited
1946 Land Without Stars Simon Legouge / Frédéric Talacayud Georges Lacombe
The Idiot Le prince Muichkine Georges Lampin
Ouvert pour cause d'inventaire Alain Resnais
1947 Devil in the Flesh François Jaubert Claude Autant-Lara
1948 The Charterhouse of Parma Fabrice del Dongo Christian Jaque
1949 Such a Pretty Little Beach Pierre Monet Yves Allégret
All Roads Lead to Rome Gabriel Pégase Jean Boyer
1950 Beauty and the Devil Young Henri Faust René Clair
La Ronde the Count Max Ophüls
Lost Souvenirs Gérard de Narçay Christian-Jacque (segment "Une cravate de fourrure")
1951 Juliette, or Key of Dreams Michel Grandier Marcel Carné
Saint-Louis, ange de la paix Narrator Robert Darène Voice
1952 The Seven Deadly Sins the carnival banker / the painter Georges Lacombe (segment "Huitième péché, Le / Eighth Sin, The")
Fanfan la Tulipe Fanfan La Tulipe Christian-Jaque
Beauties of the Night Claude René Clair
1953 The Proud and the Beautiful Georges Yves Allégret
It Happened in the Park Carlo Gianni Franciolini (segment: Gli amanti)
1954 Royal Affairs in Versailles D'Artagnan Sacha Guitry
Knave of Hearts Andre Ripois René Clément
Le Rouge et le Noir Julien Sorel Claude Autant-Lara
1955 The Grand Maneuver Le lieutenant Armand de la Verne René Clair
The Best Part Philippe Perrin - l'ingénieur en chef Yves Allégret
1956 If Paris Were Told to Us Le Trouvère Sacha Guitry
Les Aventures de Till L'Espiègle Till Eulenspiegel Gérard Philipe and Joris Ivens
Sur les rivages de l'ambre Narrator (French version) / Récitant Jerzy Kalina Voice
1957 The House of Lovers Octave Mouret Julien Duvivier
1958 The Lovers of Montparnasse Amedeo Modigliani Jacques Becker
La Vie à deux Désiré Clément Duhour
Le Joueur Alexei Ivanovich Claude Autant-Lara
1959 Les Liaisons dangereuses Vicomte de Valmont Roger Vadim
La Fièvre Monte à El Pao Ramon Vasquez Luis Buñuel



  1. ^ Perisset, Maurice (1979). Alain Lefeuvre (ed.). Gérard Philipe ou la jeunesse du monde. Nice. p. 22.
  2. ^ Radio.cz
  3. ^ THE FRENCH CINEMA SINCE THE LIBERATION Hackett, Hazel. Sight and Sound; London Vol. 15, Iss. 58, (Summer 1946): 48.
  4. ^ THE FRENCH THEATRE: Old Vic's Success; Existentialist's Herror Play Watt, Alexander. The Scotsman (1921-1950); Edinburgh, Scotland [Edinburgh, Scotland]09 Dec 1946: 4.
  5. ^ Of Local Origin New York Times 04 Feb 1948: 28.
  6. ^ FILMLAND BRIEFS Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]02 June 1948: 23.
  7. ^ FRENCH FILM WINS PRIZE AT BRUSSELS New York Times 1 July 1947: 30.
  8. ^ a b c "Box Office Success of Gerard Philippe films". Box Office Story.
  9. ^ Young Men Produce War Film Los Angeles Times 6 Dec 1953: E3.
  10. ^ No. 1 in Europe, Gina Throws Curves at U.S. Jacks, Allen. Los Angeles Times 1 Mar 1953: D4.
  11. ^ BY WAY OF REPORT: Robert Sylvester's New Novel -- 'Kong' Again By HOWARD THOMPSON. New York Times 6 July 1952: X3.
  12. ^ "GALLIC CENSORS POUNCE; MLLE. 'B. B.' SUBSIDES" by CYNTHIA GRENIER, PARIS. New York Times 11 Oct 1959: X9.
  13. ^ GERARD PHILIPPE'S LAST FILM Lennon, Peter. The Irish Times 25 Jan 1960: 8.
  14. ^ "Gérard Philipe". Find A Grave. October 25, 1999.

Stupková, Laurence (April 12, 2001). "Gérard Philippe : comédien français très aimé des Tchèques". Prague.http://www.radio.cz/fr/rubrique/faits/gerard-philippe-comedien-francais-tres-aime-des-tcheques


External linksEdit