So.  Did you really know all that much about the man who for many years epitomized French savoir-faire to American audiences?

We’re talking about Maurice Chevalier, the Paris-born veteran who staged not just one but two substantial star turns in Hollywood.  (There he is above during round two as Audrey Hepburn’s understanding father in Billy Wilder’s 1957 romantic comedy, Love in the Afternoon.)

Ok, on to our answers:

1) Question — Which actress summed up (for some) Chevalier’s career when she said to him that “I’ll admit you’re very funny but not terrific …not colossal?”  a) Leslie Caron; b) Jeanette MacDonald; c) Audrey Hepburn; or d) Joan Crawford.

1) Answer: b) Jeanette MacDonald, a familiar Chevalier costar most notably in 1929’s The Love Parade, 1932’s One Hour With You and the same year’s Love Me Tonight, a delightful musical showcase of Chevalier’s impressive physical grace (the film holds up remarkably well; worth seeking out.) The “not colossal” comment was delivered by MacDonald to Chevalier’s character in 1934’s The Merry Widow.

2) Question — Before he even set foot in Hollywood, Chevalier was noted for his exceptional athletic skills. Which feat most cemented his sporting reputation? a) his long-distance running records; b) the swordsmanship displayed in early vaudeville performances; c) his accomplishments as an acrobat; or d) his role as boxing champ Georges Carpentier’s sparring partner.

2) Answer — Both c) and d). Chevalier was an accomplished acrobat, and also went a few rounds with boxing champ Georges Carpentier.

3) Question —  Early in his career, Chevalier turned himself into the main attraction at a renowned Parisian tourist stop. Was it a) the Paris Opera; b) La Tour d’Argent; c) the Folies Bergere; or d) the Olympia Music Hall?

3) Answer — Chevalier was a popular cabaret singer-entertainer long before he became a movie star in France much less Hollywood.  His partner at the infamous Folies Bergere was actress singer Mistinguett (nee Jeanne Bourgeois), who was 13 years his senior.

4) Question — Chevalier and frequent costar Jeanette MacDonald generated romantic sparks offscreen as well as on.  a) True or b) false?

4) Answer — False. MacDonald rebuffed Chevalier’s overtures, calling him “the quickest derriere pincher in Hollywood.”  He dismissed her as a prude.

5) Question: Contemporary political correctness looks askance at Chevalier’s rendition of a song from Vincente Minnelli’s 1958 classic, Gigi. Can you name the song and explain why it could be considered “offensive?”

5)  Answer — The song is Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s Thank Heaven For Little Girls. In this post Humbert Humbert age, the song and Chevalier’s delivery make some uncomfortable.  We say, relax and enjoy the performance in all its innocent intent.

6) Question — In 1942, during the German occupation of France, Chevalier discovered that his name appeared on a Free French list of “prominent collaborators who deserved death.”  a) True or b) false?

6) Answer — a) True, according Alan Riding, author of the 2010 book, And The Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris. Chevalier got in hot water for entertaining German soldiers in his cabaret appearances and for performing a concert in Germany.

7) Question — Chevalier paid off well-connected friends to get himself exonerated of Nazi collaboration charges.  a) True or b) false?

7) Answer — a) True, again according to author Riding. There’s no doubt that Chevalier took great pains to explain his wartime behavior to both French and American audiences.

8) Question — Which one of these actress did NOT costar with Chevalier in a movie made during his successful return to Hollywood?  a) Deborah Kerr; b) Shirley MacLaine; c) Mamie Van Doren; d) Hayley Mills; or e) Sophia Loren?

8) Answer — c) Mamie Van Doren. Deborah Kerr costarred with Chevalier in 1959’s Count Your Blessings. Shirley Maclaine in 1960’s Can-Can. Hayley Mills in the 1962 Disney outing, In Search of the Castaways. And, Sophia Loren appeared with our man in 1960’s A Breath of Scandal.

9) Question: How old was Chevalier when his first foray into Hollywood began?  How old was he when his Hollywood comeback began? a) 41 and 69; b) 15 and 55; c) 25 and 72; or d) 19 and 45?

9) Answer — a) 41 and 69.  (Chevalier was born in 1888. He died in 1972 at the age of 83.) His first Hollywood film was in 1929, and he his re-emergence began in 1957.

10) Question: Was Chevalier forced to make propaganda films for the Germans in World War II?  a) Yes or b) no.

10) Answer — b) No. Chevalier refrained from making any movies during the war. His first post-war movie appearance in France was in 1947 in Rene Clair’s Le Silence est d’Or (Silence is Golden).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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