Charles Boyer, the “great lover” was the definition of polished European virility in the thirties and forties, and mesmerized his costars wit the same masterful ease that wooed his fans into theaters. Larry Swindell shows here that although this consummate actor, son of French bourgeoisie, always retained a balanced perspective in the face of his worldwide celebrity, the public did not. The Boyer myth grew to such proportion that it achieved a life of its own. Much like Bogart’s “Play it again, Sam,” Boyer’s “Come wiz me to zee casbah,” was never spoken by him except in the popular imagination.
In this richly detailed biography, Larry Swindell dispels the myths and reveals the professional and personal contrasts of a man whose career began in ways more fabulous than the imaginings of any studio publicity department: he rose from obscurity to become the overnight sensation of Parisian theater when, on twenty-four hours’ notice, he replaced the ailing lead in a major production. A dazzling survivor in an industry of notorious failures, he was passionately devoted to his art, his country, and his wife.
With the Golden Age of Hollywood as a backdrop, Boyer’s private and professional lives are explored: His reputation as the “great louvair,” (enhanced as much by his real-life romance with his wife as by the casting with such leading ladies as Dietrich, Garbo, and Hepburn), his involvement with the French Resistance movement, and his friendships with such Hollywood greats as Henry Fonda, David Niven, and Ingrid Bergman.