01 October 2013

Jules Croiset

Every year during the last week of September, Utrecht is the Dutch capital of film with the Netherlands Film Festival. During the festival, EFSP provides you daily with postcards of Dutch films and stars from the past. Heavy-set Dutch actor Jules Croiset (1937) is known for his grandiose, solo stage performances. He also appeared in more than 40 films and television shows since 1960.

Jules Croiset in Help de dokter verzuipt!
Dutch postcard, no. 1273, 1973. Publicity still for Help, de dokter verzuipt!/Help! The Doctor Is Drowning (Nicolai van der Heijde, 1974).

His Parents’ Footsteps

Julien Gustave Croiset was born in Deventer, The Netherlands in 1937. He was born into a family of actors. Jules was the son of Max Croiset, star of films like Dood water/Dead water (Gerard Rutten, 1933) and actress Jeanne Verstraete. His brother is actor-director Hans Croiset. His cousin Eli Asser is a well-known author of TV series and stage plays. And his grandfather was actor Guus Verstraete.

When he was 2 years old, just before war broke out, his Belgian-born mother, a Christian, abandoned his father, a Jew who was an actor, and married a Nazi collaborator. Jules and his brother were sent to a farm in the north of Holland, hidden from the Germans.

After the war, Jules sought to talk about his past and his half-Jewishness with his father, but the elder Croiset remained silent.

Jules followed in his parents’ footsteps and made his stage debut in 1955. In 1960 he appeared in the TV film Romeo en Julia in Berlijn/Romeo and Juliet in Berlin (Frits Butzelaar, 1960) with Manfred de Graaf. That year he also made his film debut in the romantic comedy De zaak M.P./The Manneken Pis Case (Bert Haanstra, 1960) with Albert Mol.

During the 1960s, he appeared mainly on stage, but also in several TV films. His TV roles included Petja in the Anton Chekhov adaptation De kersentuin/The Cherry Orchard (Willy van Hemert, 1963), Mitja in Alexander Pushkin’s De Postmeester/The Stationmaster (Paul Pouwels, 1965) and Victor in Federico García Lorca’s Yerma (Jan Retèl, 1967).

Max Croiset and Arnold Marlé in Dood water
Max Croiset. Dutch postcard, no. 38996. Photo: Nederlandse Filmgemeenschap, Holland. Publicity still for Dood water/Dead water (Gerard Rutten, 1934) with Max Croiset (left) and Arnold Marlé. Collection: Egbert Barten.

Walt Disney Classics

In 1974, Jules Croiset landed the lead role in the film comedy Help, de dokter verzuipt!/Help! The Doctor Is Drowning (Nikolai van der Heyde, 1974). He played small town doctor Angelino who falls in love at first sight with schoolteacher Irene (Martine Bijl). The film was a box office hit, but for Croiset it did not lead to more film roles.

Even in the sequel, Laat de dokter maar schuiven (Nikolai van der Heyde, 1980), the doctor was played by another actor, Jo de Meijere. Chip Douglas at IMDb: “Although writer Toon Kortooms was very pleased with the way his book was translated to the screen (he would be, as he only wrote it after the first film became a hit). Critics and audiences did not agree.“

Croiset had a very successful stage career and did some grandiose solo performances. In 1979 he won the prestigious Louis d'Or award for his role as Platonov in the play by Anton Chekhov.

He also continued to appear regularly in popular TV series and played supporting parts in films like De mantel der Liefde/The Cloak of Love (Adriaan Ditvoorst, 1978) with Willeke van Ammelrooy, De Witte Waan/White Madness (Adriaan Ditvoorst, 1984) starring Thom Hoffman, and the horror thriller Amsterdamned (Dick Maas, 1988).

Croiset also became a well known voice actor for children’s animations, like the Dutch-British TV series Doctor Snuggles (Jeffrey O'Kelly, 1979), about a friendly and optimistic inventor. He masterfully provided the voices of Doc in the second Dutch version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Shere Khan in The Jungle Book (Wolfgang Reitherman, 1967), Prince John in Robin Hood (Wolfgang Reitherman, 1973) and characters of many other Walt Disney classics.

Help, de dokter verzuipt!/Help! The Doctor Is Drowning (1974). Source: Kpuccie (YouTube).

Abducted By A Neo-Nazi Commando

In 1988, the Belgian police announced that Jules Croiset had reported being abducted by a neo-Nazi commando in the dingy industrial city of Charleroi, which he was visiting while on tour. Croiset said he had been seized by two men and a woman who forced him into a sewer tunnel, bound him, ripped his Star of David chain from his neck and daubed a swastika on his chest. After violent humiliations, he told the police, he escaped from his sewer prison.

The news of the kidnapping stunned the Netherlands. A big demonstration was held at an Amsterdam church, and the Justice Minister said he was considering creating a special prosecutor to investigate neo-Nazi activities.

However, early 1989 the Belgian police announced that the actor had confessed to staging his own kidnapping. After this bizarre affair, Croiset tried to put his life together and reconcile with his wife and children.

During the 1990s he returned to work and could also be seen in Dutch films like the horror dud Intensive Care (Dorna van Rouveroy, 1991), Hoffman's honger/Hoffman's Hunger (Leon de Winter, 1993) starring Elliot Gould and Jacqueline Bisset, the drama De vlinder tilt de kat op/The Butterfly Lifts the Cat Up (Willeke van Ammelrooy, 1994) and the fantasy Nachtvlinder/Night Butterfly (Herman van Veen, 1999).

These films were only moderately successful at best, but Croiset also appeared in very popular Dutch TV series like Flodder (Dick Maas, 1994) and Baantjer (1997-2001). More recently he had guest roles in such popular series as Keyzer & de Boer advocaten/Keyzer & De Boer Lawyers (2007) and Flikken Maastricht/Maastricht Cops (2008).

Jules Croiset is the father of actors Vincent Croiset and Niels Croiset. In 2011 he and his son Vincent played a father and his illiterate son in the short film Letter (Reinout Hellenthal, 2011).

Letter (2011). Source: Nieuwebeeldkr8 (YouTube).

Sources: James M. Markham (The New York Times), Wikipedia (Dutch and English), and IMDb.

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