Here’s another informal snapshot from the Donald Gordon Collection….Can you identify this guy?
He was known as the best dressed man in the movies. In fact his haberdashery along with his political affiliations and patriotic zeal may have overshadowed his acting career.
But Adolphe Menjou was an actor, a movie star and one whose career spanned the silents and the talkies, 149 film and tv titles in all beginning way back in 1914. He was an actor of great versatility and authority (check out his seamless performance as a cynical French general in Stanley Kubrick’s 1957 war drama, Paths of Glory.)
Although he was a Catholic his first two marriages over a period of 14 years ended in divorce before he wed actress Verree Teasdale (with him below) in 1934. He stayed married to her until his death in 1963 at the age of 73.
Teasdale was an actress of note in her own right, and had a busy career early playing second leads in comedies and society wives and “the other woman” in dramas. She and Menjou worked together in the late Forties and Fifties co-hosting a syndicated interview show on radio. She outlived Menjou by more than two decades.
Unlike most of his contemporaries Menjou was well educated. He had an engineering degree from Cornell. But the lure of vaudeville was too great. Then the flickers. Then the talkies.
Interestingly, he worked as a haberdasher before getting into show business, and once a star, had a mustache named after him.
He easily segued from leading man to character actor, and worked pretty much right to the end. Perhaps his best known roles are as Oliver Niles in the 1937 edition of A Star is Born (the one with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March) and as that glib, amoral general in Paths of Glory. He easily moved from comedy to drama.
But his politics did not endear him to many in Hollywood.
He was a great supporter of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and its hunt for Communists in Hollywood. Katherine Hepburn hated Menjou, and wouldn’t speak to him while they were filming Frank Capra’s fast-pace 1948 political drama, State of the Union. (Others including Noel Coward disdained Menjou’s political views, but the actor didn’t seem to care.)
Whatever his differences with Hepburn, Menjou drew plaudits for his performance in the Capra movie. And for many others. One solid and meticulously dressed actor.