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Adolphe Menjou

Adolphe Menjou

American actor
Adolphe Menjou
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American actor
Was Actor Stage actor Film actor
From United States of America
Type Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender male
Birth 18 February 1890, Pittsburgh
Death 29 October 1963, Beverly Hills (aged 73 years)
Star sign Aquarius
Spouse: Kathryn CarverVerree Teasdale
Peoplepill ID adolphe-menjou
Adolphe Menjou
The details


Adolphe Jean Menjou (February 18, 1890 – October 29, 1963) was an American actor. His career spanned both silent films and talkies. He appeared in such films as Charles Chaplin's A Woman of Paris, in which he played the lead role; Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory with Kirk Douglas; Ernst Lubitsch's The Marriage Circle; The Sheik with Rudolph Valentino; Morocco with Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper; and A Star Is Born with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. He was nominated for an Academy Award for The Front Page in 1931.

Early life

Menjou was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to a French father, Albert Menjou (1858-1917), and an Irish mother from Galway, Nora (née Joyce) (1869-1953). He had a brother named Henry Arthur Menjou (1891-1956) who was a year younger. He was raised Roman Catholic, attended the Culver Military Academy, and graduated from Cornell University with a degree in engineering. Attracted to the vaudeville stage, he made his movie debut in 1916 in The Blue Envelope Mystery. During World War I, he served as a captain in the United States Army ambulance service. He trained in Pennsylvania before going overseas.

Personal life

Menjou was married to Verree Teasdale from 1934 until his death on October 29, 1963 and had one adopted son. He was previously married to Kathryn Carver in 1928. They divorced in 1934. A prior marriage to Kathryn Conn Tinsley also ended in divorce.

Career and Stardom

Returning from the war, he became a star in such films as The Sheik and The Three Musketeers. When he starred in 1923's A Woman of Paris, he solidified the image of a well-dressed man-about-town, and was later voted the Best Dressed Man in America nine times. His career stalled with the coming of talkies, but in 1930, he starred in Morocco, with Marlene Dietrich. He was nominated for an Academy Award for The Front Page (1931).

Political beliefs

Menjou was a staunch Republican who equated the Democratic Party with socialism. He supported the political ideology of Herbert Hoover's administration who rejected the belief that the federal government held responsibility for aiding the unemployed or that government should intervene to ameliorate social ills. Menjou confided to a friend that he feared that if a Democrat won the White House he "would raise taxes, destroy the value of the dollar," depriving him of a good portion of his wealth. He took precautions against this threat to his finances. "I've got gold stashed in safety deposit boxes all over town...they'll never get an ounce from me." In 1944, he joined other celebrity Republicans at a rally in the Los Angeles Coliseum arranged by David O. Selznick in support of the Dewey–Bricker ticket as well as Governor Earl Warren of California, who would be Dewey's running mate in 1948. The gathering drew 93,000, with Cecil B. DeMille as the master of ceremonies and short speeches by Hedda Hopper and Walt Disney. Despite the good turnout at the rally, most Hollywood celebrities who took a public position sided with the Roosevelt–Truman ticket.

In 1947, Menjou cooperated with the House Committee on Un-American Activities in its hunt for communists in Hollywood. Menjou was a leading member of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a group formed to oppose communist influence in Hollywood. Other members included John Wayne, Barbara Stanwyck (with whom he co-starred in Forbidden in 1932 and Golden Boy in 1939) and her husband, actor Robert Taylor.

Because of his political sympathies, Menjou came into conflict with actress Katharine Hepburn. Menjou appeared with her in the films Morning Glory, Stage Door, and State of the Union, which also starred Spencer Tracy. Hepburn was strongly opposed to co-operating with the McCarthy hearings. Their clashes were reportedly instant, and mutually cutting; Menjou said of Hepburn during the House Committee on Un-American Activities investigation into alleged communist infiltration, "Scratch a do-gooder, like Hepburn, and they'll yell, 'Pravda'." To this, Hepburn called Menjou, "Wisecracking, witty—a flag-waving superpatriot who invested his American dollars in Canadian bonds and had a thing about Communists." Unsurprisingly, it was reported by William Mann in his biography of Hepburn, Kate, that during the filming of State of the Union, she and Menjou only spoke to each other when required to in the film script.

Later years and death

Menjou ended his film career with such roles as French General George Broulard in Stanley Kubrick's 1957 film Paths of Glory.

In 1955, Menjou played Dr. Elliott Harcourt in "Barrier of Silence", episode 19 of the first season of the television series Science Fiction Theatre. He guest starred as Fitch, with Orson Bean and Sue Randall as John and Ellen Monroe, in an 1961 episode, "The Secret Life of James Thurber", based on the works of the American humorist James Thurber, of the CBS anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson. He also appeared in the Thanksgiving episode of NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford, which aired on November 22, 1956. His final film role as the town curmudgeon in Disney's Pollyanna was one of his best known roles.

Menjou died on October 29, 1963 of hepatitis in Beverly Hills, California. He is interred next to Verree at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.


In 1948, Menjou published his autobiography, It Took Nine Tailors.

For his contributions to the motion picture industry, Menjou was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6826 Hollywood Boulevard.

Cultural references

In Billy Wilder's 1950 film Sunset Boulevard, Jack Webb (as Artie Green) upon seeing his friend in evening clothes, asks William Holden (as Joe Gillis) "Judas E. Priest, who did you borrow that from? Adolphe Menjou?" to which Joe replies "Close, but no cigar".

Because of Menjou's public support of McCarthy's hunt for communists, the anti-imperialistic propaganda of the GDR (German Democratic Republic) used to display their western opponents typically with a Menjou-style moustache. Also, in the GDR it was rated as a statement of political opposition to trim one's moustache that way. This kind of beard became a general symbol for the demimonde, criminal Westler and in Germany it is still called Menjou-Bärtchen (Menjou beardlet). In German film and theatre play dubious gentlemen, opportunists, corrupt politicians, fraudulent persuaders, marriage impostors or other charming criminals are often equipped with such a Menjou-Bärtchen and in real life it is linked by prejudice and self-fulfilling prophecy to occupations like car trader, traveling salesman, insurance agent, pimp, investment consultant or estate agent.

In "The Bob Hope Show", the tenth episode of the thirteenth season of The Jack Benny Program, after announcing he won the American Tailors Association award for being the "Best Dressed Male Performer in Television", Jack says "and Rochester, Rochester says I was silly buying Adolphe Menjou's old clothes."

In "Irresistible Andy", the fifth episode of the first season of The Andy Griffith Show, Sheriff Andy Taylor compliments Barney Fife upon seeing him wearing his signature Salt and Pepper suit for the first time and calls him "The Adolphe Menjou of Mayberry."

In Mario Puzo's 1969 novel The Godfather, Dr. Jules Segal refers to Johnny Fontane's doctor as his "Adolphe Menjou medical man."

In "Abyssinia, Henry", the final episode of the third season of M*A*S*H*, Trapper John McIntyre compliments Henry Blake on his custom-made, pin-striped, double breasted suit by saying, "Henry, that suit is really you," to which Hawkeye Pierce responds, "If you're Adolphe Menjou."

In Honor Thy Mother, the thirteenth episode of the ninth season of Cheers (aired January 3, 1991) where Carla Tortelli's mother pressures Carla to follow the family tradition and name one of her sons with her father's first name and her mother's maiden name, resulting in the name Benito Mussolini, Rebecca Howe quips to the bar "Well, it could have been worse. What if her father's name had been Adolf?" to which Woody Boyd adds "Yeah, and her mother's maiden name could have been Menjou. Phew! She really dodged a bullet there."

In James Wilcox's novel, North Gladiola (1997), the heroine's husband is thus described: "Mr Coco's narrow brown eyes - they had once reminded her of Adolphe Menjou, whom she used to have a crush on - dimmed with resentment."

In The Golden Girls episode "The Bloom is Off the Rose" (season 6, episode 13), Sophia Petrillo remarks that Blanche's abusive boyfriend "makes Wallace Beery look like Adolphe Menjou."

In Gilmore Girls episode "The Incredible Shrinking Lorelais" (season 4, episode 14), Trix Gilmore (Marion Ross) complements her son Richard (Edward Herrmann) on his newly grown moustache by saying, "It makes you look like Adolphe Menjou." Richard's wife Emily (Kelly Bishop) retorted under her breath, "Or Adolphe Menjou's cocaine dealer."

One of the most famous photographs by the Avant-garde photographer Umbo is a picture he titled "Menjou En Gros" ca. 1928.

Partial filmography

  • The Acid Test (1914, short) as Extra (uncredited)
  • The Man Behind the Door (1914) as Ringmaster (uncredited)
  • A Parisian Romance (1916) as Julianai
  • Nearly a King (1916) as Baron
  • The Price of Happiness (1916) as Howard Neal
  • The Habit of Happiness (1916) as Society Man (uncredited)
  • The Crucial Test (1916) as Count Nicolai
  • The Devil at His Elbow (1916) as Wilfred Carleton
  • The Reward of Patience (1916) as Paul Dunstan
  • Manhattan Madness (1916) as Minor Role (uncredited)
  • The Scarlet Runner (1916) as Bit Part
  • The Kiss (1916) as Pennington
  • The Blue Envelope Mystery (1916) as Bit Part (uncredited)
  • The Valentine Girl (1917)
  • The Sheik (1921)
  • The Three Musketeers (1921)
  • Head Over Heels (1922)
  • The Fast Mail (1922)
  • Clarence (1922)
  • Singed Wings (1922)
  • The World's Applause (1923)
  • Bella Donna (1923)
  • A Woman of Paris (1923)
  • The Marriage Circle (1924)
  • Forbidden Paradise (1924)
  • Shadows of Paris (1924)
  • Open All Night (1924)
  • The Fast Set (1924)
  • The King on Main Street (1925)
  • Are Parents People? (1925)
  • A Social Celebrity (1926)
  • The Ace of Cads (1926)
  • The Sorrows of Satan (1926)
  • Evening Clothes (1927)
  • Serenade (1927)
  • Service for Ladies (1927)
  • A Gentleman of Paris (1927)
  • His Private Life (1928) with Kathryn Carver
  • A Night of Mystery (1928)
  • Marquis Preferred (1929)
  • Mysterious Mr. Parkes (1930)
  • Morocco (1930)
  • The Easiest Way (1931)
  • Men Call It Love (1931)
  • The Front Page (1931)
  • Friends and Lovers (1931)
  • Diamond Cut Diamond (1932)
  • Prestige (1932)
  • Forbidden (1932)
  • Two White Arms (1932)
  • A Farewell to Arms (1932)
  • Morning Glory (1933)
  • Convention City (1933)
  • Wife Beware (1933; first film ever shown at a drive-in)
  • Easy to Love (1934)
  • The Trumpet Blows (1934)
  • Little Miss Marker (1934)
  • Journal of a Crime (1934)
  • The Mighty Barnum (1934)
  • Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
  • Broadway Gondolier (1935)
  • The Milky Way (1936)
  • A Star Is Born (1937) as Oliver Niles
  • Café Metropole (1937) as Monsieur Victor
  • One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937) as John Cardwell
  • Stage Door (1937) as Anthony Powell
  • The Goldwyn Follies (1938) as Oliver Merlin
  • Letter of Introduction (1938) as John Mannering
  • Thanks for Everything (1938) as J. B. Harcourt
  • King of the Turf (1939) as Jim Mason
  • Golden Boy (1939) as Tom Moody
  • The Housekeeper's Daughter (1939) as Deakon Maxwell
  • That's Right—You're Wrong (1939) as Stacey Delmore
  • Turnabout (1940) as Phil Manning
  • A Bill of Divorcement (1940) as Hilary Fairfield
  • Road Show (1941) as Colonel Carleton Carroway
  • Father Takes a Wife (1941) as Senior
  • Roxie Hart (1942) as Billy Flynn
  • Syncopation (1942) as George Latimer
  • You Were Never Lovelier (1942) as Eduardo Acuña
  • Hi Diddle Diddle (1943) as Col. Hector Phyffe
  • Sweet Rosie O'Grady (1943) as Tom Moran
  • Step Lively (1944) as Wagner
  • Man Alive (1945) as Kismet
  • Heartbeat (1946) as Ambassador
  • The Bachelor's Daughters (1946) as Alexander Moody
  • I'll Be Yours (1947) as J. Conrad Nelson
  • Mr. District Attorney (1947) as Craig Warren
  • The Hucksters (1947) as Mr. Kimberly
  • State of the Union (1948) as Jim Conover
  • My Dream Is Yours (1949) as Thomas Hutchins
  • Dancing in the Dark (1949) as Melville Crossman
  • To Please a Lady (1950) as Gregg
  • The Tall Target (1951) as Colonel Caleb Jeffers
  • Across the Wide Missouri (1951) as Pierre
  • The Sniper (1952) as Police Lt. Frank Kafka
  • Man on a Tightrope (1953) as Fesker
  • Timberjack (1955) as 'Sweetwater' Tilton
  • The Ambassador's Daughter (1956) as Senator Jonathan Cartwright
  • Bundle of Joy (1956) as J.B. Merlin
  • The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown (1957) as Arthur Martin
  • Paths of Glory (1957) as Gen. George Broulard
  • I Married a Woman (1958) as Frederick W. Sutton
  • Pollyanna (1960) as Mr. Pendergast

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1946 Screen Guild Players Experiment Perilous
1946 This Is Hollywood The Bachelor's Daughters

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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