Maurice Auguste Chevalier (September 12, 1888 Ė January 1, 1972) was a world-famous French actor and singer.
He first struck fame in his native France, where he was a popular music hall star during the 1910s and 1920s and scored many hits like "Valentine," "Mimi" and "Louise." In 1927, he moved to Hollywood, where sound films were just getting in vogue, thus opening an entire market for movie musicals. Chevalier starred in many of them, including The Love Parade (1929), The Big Pond (1930), Love Me Tonight (1932), and Gigi (1958). He appeared alongside famous Hollywood movie stars of the day, including Jeanette MacDonald, Nelson Eddy, Claudette Colbert, Leslie Caron, Charles Boyer,note Jayne Mansfield and Frank Sinatra.
For decades Maurice Chevalier was the most famous French entertainer on the planet, easily recognizable due to his iconic yellow boater hat, tuxedo and heavy Parisian accent. Even The Marx Brothers built an entire comedic scene around him in Monkey Business (1931), even though he didn't appear in the film at all. He appeared as himself in the I Love Lucy episode "Lucy Goes To Mexico" (1958).
Chevalier's accent (which was actually specific to Paris and not any other place) has in fact become a stereotype for the French variant of Funny Foreigner. Whenever a comedian pretends to imitate a Frenchman he is indirectly mimicking the way Chevalier spoke English in his native Parisian accent, including his famous "hon hon hon" laugh. It has become such a Stock Parody (to the dismay of many modern French folks, who also tend to get annoyed that "France is only Paris"), comparable to Poirot Speak and Mock Cousteau, that we even included a page for it and named it after him: the Maurice Chevalier Accent.
Maurice Chevalier films with pages on this wiki:
- The Love Parade (1929)
- The Smiling Lieutenant (1931)
- One Hour with You (1932)
- Love Me Tonight (1932)
- The Merry Widow (1934)
- Love in the Afternoon (1957)
- Gigi (1958)
- Count Your Blessings (1959)
- Can-Can (1960)
- A Breath Of Scandal (1960)
- Fanny (1961)
- In Search of the Castaways (1962)
- The Aristocats (1970) note
Maurice Chevalier's work and references in media provide examples of the following tropes:
- Borrowed Catch Phrase: His signature "hon hon hon" laugh has become the standard way French people laugh in American comedy, even to people who have no idea that Chevalier originated this stereotype.
- Chanson: One of the representatives of the genre.
- Clothes Make the Legend: His yellow boater hat and tuxedo.
- Funny Foreigner: In most Hollywood films he appeared in Chevalier is always the happy and charming Frenchman.
- Gay Paree: He was born and raised in Paris, debuted his career there and celebrated the city in many songs.
- Glamorous Wartime Singer: He was particularly successful during the Phoney War.
- Iconic Item: His yellow boater hat and tuxedo.
- Just a Stupid Accent: His accent is often treated this way in comedy.
- One-Woman Song: "Louise", "Mimi", "Valentine",...
- Persona Non Grata: Was accused of collaborating with the Nazis during World War II, causing him to be shut out of multiple theaters. Chevalier always maintained that, while he did entertain the Nazis on several occasions, he only did so because his lover was Jewish and the Nazis knew it.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: Just look at the image on this page.
- Signature Headgear: What would Chevalier be without his canotier?
- Signature Laugh: His often imitated "hon hon hon" laugh.