Adolphe Menjou

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Adolphe Menjou
Adolphe Menjou 1938.jpg
Menjou in 1938
Adolphe Jean Menjou

(1890-02-18)February 18, 1890
DiedOctober 29, 1963(1963-10-29) (aged 73)
Resting place Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Years active1914–1960
Political party Republican
Katherine Conn Tinsley
(m. 1920;div. 1927)
(m. 1928;div. 1934)
(m. 1934)

Adolphe Jean Menjou (February 18, 1890 – October 29, 1963) was an American actor. His career spanned both silent films and talkies. He appeared in such films as Charlie Chaplin's A Woman of Paris , where he played the lead role; Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory with Kirk Douglas; Ernst Lubitsch's The Marriage Circle ; The Sheik with Rudolph Valentino; Morocco with Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper; and A Star Is Born with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, and was nominated for an Academy Award for The Front Page in 1931. [1]


Early life

Adolphe Jean Menjou was born on February 18, 1890, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to a French father, Albert Menjou (18581917), and a mother from Ireland, Nora ( née Joyce, 18691953). [2] [3] His brother, Henry Arthur Menjou (18911956), was a year younger. He was raised Catholic, attended the Culver Military Academy, and graduated from Cornell University with a degree in engineering. Attracted to the vaudeville stage, he made his movie debut in 1916 in The Blue Envelope Mystery . During World War I, he served as a captain in the United States Army Ambulance Service, for which he trained in Pennsylvania before going overseas.

Career and stardom

Menjou in The Spanish Dancer (1923) Adolphe Menjou, film actor (SAYRE 1363).jpg
Menjou in The Spanish Dancer (1923)

After returning from the war, Menjou gradually rose through the ranks with small but fruitful roles in films such as The Faith Healer (1921) alongside supporting roles in prominent films such as The Sheik (1921) and The Three Musketeers (1921). By 1922, he was receiving top or near-top billing, with a selection of those films being with Famous Players–Lasky and Paramount Pictures, starting with Pink Gods (1922), although he did films for various studios and directors. His supporting role in 1923's A Woman of Paris solidified the image of a well-dressed man-about-town, and he was voted Best Dressed Man in America nine times. [4] He was noted as an example of a suave type of actor, one who could play lover or villain. [5] In 1929, he attended the preview of Maurice Chevalier's first Hollywood film Innocents of Paris , and personally reassured Chevalier that he would enjoy a great future, despite the mediocre screenplay. [6] He closed the end of the 1920s with star roles such as His Private Life (1928) and Fashions in Love (1929).

Menjou in A Star Is Born (1937) Adolphe Menjou in A Star is Born.jpg
Menjou in A Star Is Born (1937)
Trailer for Stage Door (1937) Adolphe Menjou in Stage Door trailer.jpg
Trailer for Stage Door (1937)

The crash of the stock market in 1929 meant that his contract with Paramount was cancelled, but he went on to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and continued on with films (now talkies) in a variety of ways, with his knowledge of French and Spanish helping at key times, although his starring roles declined by this point. In 1930, he starred in Morocco , with Marlene Dietrich. He was nominated for an Academy Award for The Front Page (1931), after having received the role upon the death of Louis Wolheim during rehearsals. [7] [8] A variety of supporting roles in this decade were films such as A Farewell to Arms (1932), Morning Glory (1933), and A Star Is Born (1937). [9]

His roles decreased slightly in the 1940s, but he did overseas work for World War II alongside supporting roles in films like Roxie Hart (1942) and State of the Union (1948). Over the course of his career, he bridged the gap of working with several noted directors that ranged from Frank Borzage to Frank Capra to Stanley Kubrick.

Later career

Menjou had just eleven roles in the 1950s, but he managed to snag one last leading role with the film noir The Sniper (1952). Incidentally, the director of that film was Edward Dmytryk, who had been a member of the Hollywood Ten, in which he was blacklisted from the film industry for not testifying to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) during the 'Red scare' before deciding to testify and name names as a brief member of the Communist Party.

In 1955, Menjou played Dr. Elliott Harcourt in "Barrier of Silence", episode 19 of the first season of the television series Science Fiction Theatre . He guest-starred as Fitch, with Orson Bean and Sue Randall as John and Ellen Monroe, in a 1961 episode, "The Secret Life of James Thurber", based on the works of American humorist James Thurber (especially "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"), in the CBS anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson . He also appeared in the Thanksgiving episode of NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford, which aired on November 22, 1956. [10] Menjou ended his film career with such roles as French General George Broulard in Stanley Kubrick's film Paths of Glory (1957) and his final film role was that of the town curmudgeon in Disney's Pollyanna (1960).

Political beliefs

Menjou was a staunch Republican who equated the Democratic Party with socialism. He supported the Hoover administration's policies during the Great Depression. Menjou told a friend that he feared that if a Democrat won the White House, they "would raise taxes [and] destroy the value of the dollar," depriving Menjou of a good portion of his wealth. He took precautions against this threat: "I've got gold stashed in safety deposit boxes all over town... They'll never get an ounce from me." [11] In the 1944 presidential election, he joined other celebrity Republicans at a rally in the Los Angeles Coliseum, organized by studio executive David O. Selznick, to support the DeweyBricker ticket and Governor Earl Warren of California, who would be Dewey's running mate in 1948. The gathering drew 93,000, with Cecil B. DeMille as the master of ceremonies and short speeches by Hedda Hopper and Walt Disney. Despite the rally's large turnout, most Hollywood celebrities who took public positions supported the RooseveltTruman ticket. [12]

In 1947, Menjou cooperated with the House Committee on Un-American Activities saying that Hollywood "is one of the main centers of Communist activity in America". He added: "it is the desire and wish of the masters of Moscow to use this medium for their purposes" which is "the overthrow of the American government". [13] Menjou was a leading member of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a group formed to oppose communist influence in Hollywood, whose other members included John Wayne, Barbara Stanwyck (with whom Menjou costarred in Forbidden in 1932 and Golden Boy in 1939) and her husband, actor Robert Taylor.

Because of his political leanings, Menjou came into conflict with actress Katharine Hepburn, with whom he appeared in Morning Glory , Stage Door , and State of the Union (also starring Spencer Tracy). Hepburn was strongly opposed to the HUAC hearings, and their clashes were reportedly instant and mutually cutting. During a government deposition, Menjou said, "Scratch a do-gooder, like Hepburn, and they'll yell, 'Pravda'." [14] To this, Hepburn called Menjou "wisecracking, witty—a flag-waving super-patriot who invested his American dollars in Canadian bonds and had a thing about Communists." [14] In his book Kate, Hepburn biographer William Mann said that during the filming of State of the Union , she and Menjou spoke to each other only while acting. [14] [ citation needed ]

Personal life

Menjou with his second wife, actress Kathryn Carver, in 1928 Adolphe Menjou, Kathryn Carver, 1928.jpg
Menjou with his second wife, actress Kathryn Carver, in 1928

Menjou was married three times. His first marriage, in 1920 to Kathryn Conn Tinsley, ended in divorce. He married Kathryn Carver in 1928; they divorced in 1934. His third and final marriage, to Verree Teasdale, lasted from 1934 until his death on October 29, 1963; they had one adopted son, Peter Menjou.

In 1948, Menjou published his autobiography, It Took Nine Tailors.

Menjou died on October 29, 1963, of hepatitis in Beverly Hills, California. [15] He is interred beside Verree at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. [16]


For his contributions to the motion picture industry, Menjou has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6826 Hollywood Boulevard. [17]

Cultural references

Portrait photogragh of Adolphe Menjou Portret van Adolphe Menjou To J. van der Linde Jr. ordially, Adolphe Menjou (titel op object), RP-F-F01577.jpg
Portrait photogragh of Adolphe Menjou

Because of Menjou's public support of HUAC, the propaganda of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) often depicted their western opponents with Menjou-style moustaches, and it was considered a statement of political opposition to trim one's moustache that way. The style became a symbol for the resourceful criminal, and in Germany is still called Menjou-Bärtchen (Menjou beardlet). In German film and theatre, dubious men, opportunists, corrupt politicians, fraudulent persuaders, marriage impostors and other "slick" criminals often wear Menjou-Bärtchen. In real life, the style is often associated with opportunism.

Salvador Dalí admired Adolphe Menjou. [18] He declared "la moustache d'Adolphe Menjou est surréaliste" [19] and began offering fake mustaches from a silver cigarette case to other people with the words "Moustache? Moustache? Moustache?" [20]

One of the most famous photographs by the avant-garde photographer Umbo is titled "Menjou En Gros" ca. 1928. [21]

In the "Irresistible Andy" episode of The Andy Griffith Show , when Andy sees Barney dressed in fancy attire, Andy calls him "the Adolphe Menjou of Mayberry".

In the movie Sunset Boulevard, Joe Gillis arrives to a young adult New Year's Eve party overdressed in a vicuna overcoat and a tailcoat. Artie Green surveys his outfit and asks, "Who'd you borrow that from? Adolphe Menjou?"

In the Mario Puzo novel The Godfather, character Jules Segall references the misdiagnosis of singer Johnny Fontane's throat troubles by an "Adolphe Menjou medical man..."

In the M*A*S*H episode, "Abyssinia, Henry," Henry Blake is departing the 4077th, attired in a comically dated suit and hat. Trapper tells him: "Henry, that suit is really you!" Hawkeye, after a perfectly timed beat, adds: "If you're Adolphe Menjou."


1914The Acid TestExtraShort film
Lost film
1914The Man Behind the DoorRingmasterLost film
1916A Parisian RomanceJulianaiLost film
1916 Nearly a King BaronLost film
1916 The Price of Happiness Howard NealLost film
1916 The Habit of Happiness Society ManUncredited
1916 The Crucial Test Count NicolaiLost film
1916 The Devil at His Elbow Wilfred CarletonLost film
1916 The Reward of Patience Paul DunstanLost film
1916 Manhattan Madness Minor RoleUncredited
1916 The Scarlet Runner Bit PartLost film
1916 The Kiss Pennington
1916 The Blue Envelope Mystery Bit PartLost film
1917 The Valentine Girl Joe WinderLost film
1917 Wild and Woolly Uncredited
1917 The Amazons Lost film
1917 An Even Break Bit PartUncredited
1917 The Moth Teddy Marbridge / The HusbandLost film
1920 What Happened to Rosa Reporter Friend of Dr. DrewUncredited
1921 The Faith Healer Dr. LittlefieldLost film
1921 Courage Bruce FergusonLost film
1921 Through the Back Door James Brewster
1921 The Three Musketeers Louis XIII
1921 Queenie Count MichaelLost film
1921 The Sheik Dr. Raoul de St. Hubert
1922 Head Over Heels Sterling
1922 Arabian Love Captain FortineLost film
1922 Is Matrimony a Failure? Dudley KingLost film
1922 The Fast Mail Cal BaldwinLost film
1922 The Eternal Flame Duc de LangeaisIncomplete film
1922 Pink Gods Louis BarneyLost film
1922 Clarence Hubert SteinLost film
1922 Singed Wings Bliss GordonLost film
1923 The World's Applause Robert TownsendLost film
1923 Bella Donna Mr. Chepstow
1923 Rupert of Hentzau Count RischenheimLost film
1923 A Woman of Paris Pierre Revel
1923 The Spanish Dancer Don Salluste
1924 The Marriage Circle Prof. Josef Stock
1924 Shadows of Paris Georges de Croy, His SecretaryLost film
1924 The Marriage Cheat Bob CanfieldLost film
1924 Broadway After Dark Ralph NortonLost film
1924 For Sale Joseph HudleyLost film
1924 Broken Barriers Tommy KempLost film
1924 Sinners in Silk Arthur MerrillLost film
1924 Open All Night Edmund Durverne
1924 The Fast Set Ernest SteelLost film
1924 Forbidden Paradise Chancellor
1925 A Kiss in the Dark Walter GrenhamIncomplete film
1925 The Swan Albert von Kersten-Rodenfels
1925 Are Parents People? Mr. Hazlitt
1925 Lost: A Wife Tony HamiltonLost film
1925 The King on Main Street King Serge IV of Molvania
1926 The Grand Duchess and the Waiter Albert Durant
1926 Fascinating Youth HimselfLost film
1926 A Social Celebrity Max HaberLost film
1926 The Ace of Cads Chappel MaturinLost film
1926 The Sorrows of Satan Prince Lucio de Rimanez
1927 Blonde or Brunette Henri Martel
1927 Evening Clothes Lucien d'ArtoisLost film
1927 Service for Ladies Albert LerouxLost film
1927 A Gentleman of Paris Marquis de Marignan
1927 Serenade Franz RossiLost film
1928 A Night of Mystery Captain FerreolLost film
1928 His Tiger Wife HenriLost film
1928 His Private Life Georges St. GermainLost film
1929 Marquis Preferred Marquis d'ArgenvilleLost film
1929 Fashions in Love Paul de Remy
1930Soyons gaisBob Brown
1930 My Childish Father Jérome
1930Amor audazAlbert d'Arlons
1930 Mysterious Mr. Parkes Courtenay Parkes
1930 Morocco Monsieur La Bessiere
1930 New Moon Governor Boris Brusiloff
1931 The Easiest Way William Brockton
1931 Men Call It Love Tony
1931 The Front Page Walter Burns
1931 The Great Lover Jean Paurel
1931The ParisianJérome Rocheville
1931 Friends and Lovers Captain Geoffrey Roberts
1931 Prestige Capt. Remy Bandoin
1931Wir schalten um auf HollywoodHimself
1932 Forbidden Bob
1932 Wives Beware Maj. Carey ListonFirst film ever shown at a drive-in [22] [23] [24]
1932 Bachelor's Affairs Andrew Hoyt
1932 Diamond Cut Diamond Dan McQueen
1932 The Night Club Lady Police Commissioner Thatcher Colt
1932 A Farewell to Arms Rinaldi
1933 The Circus Queen Murder Thatcher Colt
1933 Morning Glory Louis Easton
1933 The Worst Woman in Paris? Adolphe Ballou
1933 Convention City T.R. (Ted) Kent
1934 Easy to Love John
1934 Journal of a Crime Paul Moliet
1934 The Trumpet Blows Pancho Montes / Pancho Gomez
1934 Little Miss Marker Sorrowful Jones
1934 The Great Flirtation Stephan Karpath
1934 The Human Side Gregory Sheldon
1934 The Mighty Barnum Bailey Walsh
1935 Gold Diggers of 1935 Nicolai Nicoleff
1935 Broadway Gondolier Professor Eduardo de Vinci
1935 The Milky Way Gabby Sloan
1936 Sing, Baby, Sing Bruce Farraday
1936 Wives Never Know J. Hugh Ramsey
1936 One in a Million Tad Spencer
1937 A Star Is Born Oliver Niles
1937 Café Metropole Monsieur Victor
1937 One Hundred Men and a Girl John Cardwell
1937 Stage Door Anthony Powell
1938 The Goldwyn Follies Oliver Merlin
1938 Letter of Introduction John Mannering
1938 Thanks for Everything J. B. Harcourt
1939 King of the Turf Jim Mason
1939 Golden Boy Tom Moody
1939 The Housekeeper's Daughter Deakon Maxwell
1939 That's Right—You're Wrong Stacey Delmore
1940 Turnabout Phil Manning
1940 A Bill of Divorcement Hilary Fairfield
1941 Road Show Colonel Carleton Carroway
1941 Father Takes a Wife Senior
1942 Roxie Hart Billy Flynn
1942 Syncopation George Latimer
1942 You Were Never Lovelier Eduardo Acuña
1943 Hi Diddle Diddle Col. Hector Phyffe
1943 Sweet Rosie O'Grady Tom Moran
1944 Step Lively Wagner
1945 Man Alive Kismet
1946 Heartbeat Ambassador
1946 The Bachelor's Daughters Alexander Moody
1947 I'll Be Yours J. Conrad Nelson
1947 Mr. District Attorney Craig Warren
1947 The Hucksters Mr. Kimberly
1948 State of the Union Jim Conover
1949 My Dream Is Yours Thomas Hutchins
1949 Dancing in the Dark Melville Crossman
1950 To Please a Lady Gregg
1951 The Tall Target Colonel Caleb Jeffers
1951 Across the Wide Missouri Pierre
1952 The Sniper Police Lt. Frank Kafka
1953 Man on a Tightrope Fesker
1955 Timberjack 'Sweetwater' Tilton
1956 The Ambassador's Daughter Senator Jonathan Cartwright
1956 Bundle of Joy J.B. Merlin
1957 The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown Arthur Martin
1957 Paths of Glory Major General Georges Broulard
1958 I Married a Woman Frederick W. Sutton
1960 Pollyanna Mr. Pendergast

Radio appearances

1946 Screen Guild Players Experiment Perilous [25]
1946This Is Hollywood The Bachelor's Daughters [26]

See also

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