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25 February 2013

Jean Weber

French actor Jean Weber (1906 – 1995) was a sociétaire (member) of the famous stage company Comédie-Française. He also appeared in several French films during the late 1920’s and 1930’s.

Jean Weber
French postcard by PC, Paris, no. 14. Photo: Albatros / Chavez.

Jean Weber
French postcard. Collection: Didier Hanson.

Cherubino
Jean-Édouard-Constant Weber was born in Paris in 1906. In 1925 he joined the Comédie-Française and played that year in plays like Les Corbeaux (The Raven) by Henry Becque, and Fantasio by Alfred de Musset. In 1926, he made his film debut in Eh bien! dansez maintenant/Well, let’s dance! (1926, Émilien Champetier). In the following years he appeared in silent films like Figaro (1929, Gaston Ravel, Tony Lekain), as the pageboy Cherubino, and the historical drama Le Collier de la reine/The Queen's Necklace (1929, Gaston Ravel, Tony Lekain), with Marcelle Chantal and Diana Karenne. He played the title role in the early sound film L'Aiglon (1931, Viktor Tourjansky) opposite Victor Francen. D.B. du Monteil at IMDb: “The performances may seem old-fashioned for today's audience, the actors overplay as if they were on a stage; Jean Weber, who plays the lead, may seem ridiculous to some, but his performance, which seems extra-terrestrial - he displays some female sensitiveness, one should remember that the part was created on stage by Sarah Bernhardt - is deeply moving, particularly in the last scenes (last act: ‘broken wings’): they wouldn't film a dying man that way nowadays.”

Jean Weber
French postcard by P.T, no. 2. Photo: Film Osso. Publicity still for L'aiglon/Napoleon II (1931, Victor Tourjansky).

Jean Weber
French postcard by Editions et Publications Cinematographiques, no. 19. Photo: Arnal.

Chéri
In 1932, Jean Weber became a sociétaire at the Comédie-Française. The sociétaires of the famous French stage company are chosen from among the pensionnaires who have been in the company a year or more. On becoming a sociétaire, an actor automatically becomes a member of the Société des Comédiens-Française and receives a share of the profits as well as receiving a number of shares in the société to which he or she is contractually linked. Weber continued to be a sociétaire till 1949. During this period he appeared in a dozen films, including the comedy Tricoche et Cacolet/Tricoche and Cacolet (1938, Pierre Colombier), starring Fernandel, and the adventure film Le Capitaine Fracasse/Captain Fracasse (1943, Abel Gance) based on the novel by Théophile Gautier. During the 1950’s he appeared in a few more films. He was among the star cast of Si Paris nous était conté/If Paris Were Told to Us (1955, Sacha Guitry) about the history of the city of Paris. His final film was Action immédiate (1957, Maurice Labro), starring Henri Vidal. In 1961 he appeared on stage in Henri III et sa cour by Alexandre Dumas, directed by Pierre Bertin at the Théâtre de l'Athénée. Later he could be seen on TV in the series Café du square (1969, Louis Daquin) with Catherine Allégret, and finally in an registration of Collette’s play Chéri (1984, Yves-André Hubert), starring Michèle Morgan and Jean-Pierre Bouvier as Chéri. Jean Weber died in Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris in 1995. He was 89.

Jean Weber
French postcard by EC (Editions Cinematographiques), Paris, no. 1020. Photo: Production Albatros-Chavez. Publicity still for Un Coup de Téléphone/A Phone Call (1932, Georges Lacombe).

Jean Weber
French postcard by EC (Editions Cinémagazine), Paris, no. 935. Photo: Studio Rudolph.

Sources: D.B. du Monteil (IMDb), Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.

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