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Maurice Chevalier

From Academic Kids

Maurice Chevalier (September 12, 1888January 1, 1972) was a French actor and popular entertainer. He was born in Paris, France in 1888 and made his name as a star of musical comedy, appearing in public as a singer and dancer at an early age.

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MChevalier.jpg
Maurice Chevalier often wore a boater hat, tilted to the side.

It was in 1901 that he first began in show business. He was singing at a cafe for free when a well-known member of the theater saw him and suggested that he try out for a local musical. He did, got the part, and the rest is history.

In 1909 he became the partner of the biggest female star in France at the time, Mistinguett at the Folies Bergre: they were eventually to become long-time lovers. During World War I, he entered the armed services, was shot in the back, won the Croix de Guerre and became a prisoner of war.

After the war he became popular in Britain, and began a film career. At this time, he also made his first attempt at a career on Broadway, but this came to a grinding halt when he had to give up performing for several months because of a mental breakdown. By 1929 he had recovered and moved to Hollywood, where he landed his first American film role in Innocents of Paris. In 1930, Chevalier was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, for two roles: The Love Parade and The Big Pond.

He returned to France in 1935, and spent most of World War II in seclusion, though he made brief appearances, on one occasion as part of a prisoner exchange. After the war it was alleged that he had been a collaborator with the Vichy regime, though these claims were disputed and he was formally acquitted of the charge.

By the 1950s and 1960s, he rediscovered his popularity with new audiences, appearing in the movie musical, Gigi (1958) with Leslie Caron and several Walt Disney films.

Chevalier's trademark was a casual straw hat, which he always wore on stage with his tuxedo. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1651 Vine Street.

Maurice Chevalier died on January 1, 1972 and was interred in the Cemetery of Marnes la Coquette, Hauts-de-Seine, France.

Maurice Chevalier's trademark laugh is transcribed as "Onh-onh-onh," according to the experts on the topic.

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