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27 June 2014

Jacques Bergerac (1927-2014)

On 15 June, French actor Jacques Bergerac died at his home in Anglet in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques region of southwest France. He made a name for himself in European and Hollywood films such as the classic musical Gigi (1958) and the cult horror film Hypnotic Eye (1960). Bergerac also married two of Hollywood’s most sought-after actresses during the 1950s and 1960s. He was 87.

Jacques Bergerac (1927-2014)
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: Publicity still for Missione speciale Lady Chaplin/Operation Lady Chaplin (Alberto De Martino, Sergio Grieco, 1966) with Daniela Bianchi and Jacques Bergerac.

Beautiful Stranger


Jacques Bergerac was born in Biarritz, France in 1927.

He was a handsome law student, when he met Hollywood star Ginger Rogers on vacation in France. She landed him a screen test, which led to a role in the British film Beautiful Stranger/Twist of Fate (David Miller, 1954) which was shot on location at the French Riviera.

The 26-years-old Bergerac became in 1953 the fourth husband of the Oscar-winning actress, who was 16 years his senior. He left his law studies behind in France and went with Rogers to Hollywood to pursue an acting career.

He played supporting parts in the drama Strange Intruder (Irving Rapper, 1956) and in the French film Marie-Antoinette reine de France/Marie Antoinette Queen of France (Jean Delannoy, 1956) starring Michèle Morgan.

After his divorce from Rogers in 1957, Bergerac courted Academy Award-winning actress Dorothy Malone and they married in 1959 in Hong Kong.

Bergerac received favourable reviews for his work in the musicals Les Girls (George Cukor, 1957) with Gene Kelly, and Gigi (Vincente Minnelli, 1958) starring Leslie Caron. In 1957, he received the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Newcomer.

In the horror film The Hypnotic Eye (George Blair, 1960) he played a mysterious hypnotist who entrances women to gruesomely disfigure themselves. Mike Barnes at The Hollywood Reporter: "The film introduced 'HypnoMagic', billed as an “amazing new audience thrill that makes YOU part of the show!” The effect had Bergerac’s character, Desmond, looking directly into the camera and performing hypnotic suggestibility tests with the audience."

Daniela Bianchi, Jacques Bergerac
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: Publicity still for Missione speciale Lady Chaplin/Operation Lady Chaplin (Alberto De Martino, Sergio Grieco, 1966) with Daniela Bianchi.

A Global Affair


Jacques Bergerac gained his US citizenship in 1963. A year later his rocky marriage to Dorothy Malone ended in a divorce and ensuing custody battles often played out in the press.

During the 1960s, he appeared in a slew of international B-films and guest-starred in popular American TV shows.

His films include the American thriller Fear No More (Bernard Wiesen, 1961), the Italian comedy Una domenica d'estate/Always on Sunday (Giulio Petroni, 1962) with Jean-Pierre Aumont, the Peplum L'ira di Achille/Fury of Achilles (Marino Girolami, 1962), the Bob Hope comedy A Global Affair (Jack Arnold. 1964), Ettore Scola's comedy La congiuntura/One Million Dollars (1964) with Vittorio Gassman and Joan Collins, and the Eurospy film Missione speciale Lady Chaplin/Operation Lady Chaplin (Alberto De Martino, Sergio Grieco, 1966) with Daniela Bianchi.

In between he appeared in episodes of such popular TV series as The Dick Van Dyke Show (1963), Perry Mason (1964), The Beverly Hillbillies (1967), The Lucy Show (1967) and Batman (1967-1968).

His last TV appearance was on The Doris Day Show in 1969.

After leaving show business, Bergerac returned to Paris and in 1971, he became an exec with Revlon Cosmetics and Parfums Balmain. His brother Michel later became president and the chairman of the company.

After a brief third marriage in 1968, Bergerac married again in 1975.

He was a sports enthusiast and in 1980-1981, he was director of the Biarritz Olympique rugby club.

Jacques Bergerac is survived by two daughters, Mimi and Diane, with Dorothy Malone.


Special Mission Lady Chaplin (1966) trailer. Source: Dorado Films (YouTube).

Sources: Jordyn Holman (Variety), Mike Barnes (The Hollywood Reporter), Brian J. Walker (Brian's Drive-In Theater), Ouest France (French), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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