03 September 2012

Georges Milton

French singer and actor Georges Milton (1886 - 1970) peaked in the French cinema of the 1930's as the character Bouboule.

Georges Milton
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, Paris, no. 181. Photo: Star.

Georges Milton pub Campari
French postcard by Campari. Photo: Studio Lorelle. Caption: 'Au travers d'un Campari, Tout est gai, tout est joli' [With a Campari, all is gay, all is nice]

Propelled To Stardom
Georges Milton, whose real name was Georges Michaud Desire, was born in 1886, in Puteaux, France. He debuted in 1905 at the Casino de Montmartre. After an exile in Russia during the First World War, he returned to France in 1920. On the advice of Maurice Chevalier, he changed to singing tours. It earned him an immediate success, and he became one of the headliners of the main Parisian café concerts. He also played small parts in four silent films by Henri Diamant-Berger in 1923, all with Maurice Chevalier in the lead. After a revue at La Cigale, Milton turned to operetta. He created J'te veux (I want you) by Gaston Gabaroche and Fred Pearly at the Marigny Theater in 1923, Bouche à bouche (Mouth to mouth) by André Barde and Maurice Yvain at the Apollo in 1925 and Un bon garçon(A good boy) by the same two at the Théâtre des Nouveautés in 1926. The huge success of La Fille du bédouin and Artichauts, songs from the operetta Comte Obligado! by Raoul Moretti and André Barde created for Théâtre des Nouveautés in 1927 propelled Milton to stardom. In 1929, he played two operettas by Barde and Yvain: Elle est à vous and Kadubec, followed in 1930 by Miami by René Pujol, Saint-Granier and Maurice Yvain, a French adaptation of the American operetta Follow Thru. With his daring, merry songs Milton expressed the atmosphere of the French roaring twenties, just like Mistinguett, Chevalier or Josephine Baker.

Georges Milton
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 808. Photo: GFFA.

Georges Milton
French postcard by A.N., Paris, no. 769. Photo: Film Pathe-Natan.

A French Middleclass Joe
The arrival of sound cinema created a new career for Georges Milton. He created the character of ‘Bouboule’, a French middleclass Joe, who became the optimistic and joyful hero of a series of films. These included Le Roi des resquilleurs/The King of Free Riders (1930), La Bande à Bouboule/Bouboule’s Gang (1931), Le Roi du cirage/The Polish King (1931), Bouboule Ier, roi des Nègres/Bouboule I, King of the Negroes (1933) and Prince Bouboule (1939). Most of these were directed by Léon Mathot. Several songs from the Bouboule-films such as T’en fais pas Bouboule (1930) were released on records as well. Between the late 1920's and the mid-1930's Milton issued many songs on records anyway. In 1932 he created on stage the role of Leopold in the French version of Im Weissen Rössl by Ralph Benatzky, L'Auberge du Cheval Blanc/The White Horse Inn, performed at the Mogador Theatre. Then came Vacances by Henri Duvernois, Barde and Yvain (Nouveautés, 1934), Un de la musique by Camille François and Roger Noël (Porte- Saint-. Martin, 1937), La Féerie blanche by Louis Verneuil, Andrew Hornez, Mitty Goldin and Casimir Oberfeld (Mogador, 1938) and L’amour s’amuse by Lucien Pipon (Optimistes, 1940) but none of these shows renewed the success of Comte Obligado!. The latter was adapted to film in 1934 as Le Comte Obligado (1934, Léon Mathot). In this film Milton perfectly incorporated the ‘petit Parisien’, enormously dynamic, despite his lack of size and classic beauty. With his air of ‘average Frenchman’, he acted at least in one film a year in the 1930's. Milton retired after the war, in 1948, appearing occasionally on television until 1964. Georges Milton died in 1970 in Antibes Juan-les-Pins. He was buried in the old cemetery of Neuilly-sur-Seine.

Georges Milton sings C'est pour mon papa. Source: jonjamg (YouTube).

Georges Milton sings Si tout les cocus. Source: Clowndelespace (YouTube).

Sources: Wikipedia (French), and IMDb.

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