French postcard by S.E.R.P., Paris, no. 46. Photo: Studio Harcourt.
French postcard by Editions Chantal, Rueil, no. 85a. Photo: C.C.F.C.
Born To Dance
Jimmy Gaillard was born as Maurice Gurtner in Lyon, France, in 1916.
Jimmy (also credited as Jimmy and Jimay) was born to dance. He made his stage debut at the age of seven, and his film debut in the silent costume drama Le miracle des loups/Miracle of the Wolves (Raymond Bernard, 1924).
As a boy he was also seen in the incredibly funny extravaganza Le Mystère de la tour Eiffel/The Mystery of the Eiffel Tower (Julien Duvivier, 1927), L’argent/The Money (Marcel L’Herbier, 1928) starring Brigitte Helm, and Coeur de Paris/The Heart of Paris (Jean Benoît-Lévy, Marie Epstein, 1930).
He was sent to New York to sing and dance in Broadway shows that starred Eddie Cantor and Bing Crosby.
Jimmy returned to France and performed in operettas and joined the orchestras of Jo Bouillon and Ray Ventura.
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 135; presented by the chocolate firm N.V. Victoria, Brussels, Belgium. Photo: Roger Carlet.
French postcard by Editions E.C., Paris, no. 6. Photo: C.P.L.F.
The Wheel Turns
As a young adult Jimmy Gaillard appeared opposite Michèle Morgan in L'entraîneuse/Nightclub Hostess (Albert Valentin, 1938).
At the side of Ray Ventura he performed in such light comedies as Feux de joie/Bonfire (Jacques Houssin, 1938) with René Lefèvre, and Tourbillon de Paris/Whirlwind of Paris (Henri Diamant-Berger, 1939).
After the war he played in such musicals as Musique en tête/Music in Mind (Georges Combret, Claude Orval, 1951) with Irène de Trebert, and Tambour battant/Briskly (Georges Combret, 1952).
In 1952 Jimmy was the victim of a grave car accident and had to terminate his acting career. He only made some guest appearances as himself in show films like Bonjour sourire/Hello Smile (Claude Sautet, 1955) with Louis de Funès.
At the end of his life, he consecrated himself to the association La Roue tourne (The Wheel Turns) to help other victims of accidents.
Jimmy Gaillard died in 1985 in Nice, France. He was 68.
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 204. Photo: Star.
Belgian postcard by Editions P.E., no. 82. Studio Melvyle.
Sources: Yvan Foucart (Le gens du cinema), Ciné-ressources (French) and IMDb.