Oscar Actors: Menjou, Adolphe-Background, Career, Awards

November 15, 2020
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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 Charlie Chaplin’s A Woman of Paris, where 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, and was nominated for an Academy Award for The Front Page in 1931.

Menjou was born on February 18, 1890, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to a French father, Albert Menjou (1858–1917), and an Irish mother from Galway, Nora (née Joyce, 1869–1953).  His brother, Henry Arthur Menjou (1891–1956), was a year younger. He was raised 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, for which he trained in Pennsylvania before going overseas.

Career and stardom
After returning from the war, Menjou 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 voted Best Dressed Man in America nine times.[4] In 1929, he attended the preview of Maurice Chevalier’s first Hollywood film Innocents of Paris, and personally reassured Chevalier that he would enjoy a great future, despite the mediocre screenplay.[5] His own 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 Hoover administration’s policies during the Great Depression. Menjou told a friend that he feared that if a Democrat won the White House, they “would raise taxes [and] destroy the value of the dollar,” depriving Menjou of a good portion of his wealth. He took precautions against this threat: “I’ve got gold stashed in safety deposit boxes all over town… They’ll never get an ounce from me.”[6] In the 1944 presidential election, he joined other celebrity Republicans at a rally in the Los Angeles Coliseum, organized by studio executive David O. Selznick, to support the Dewey–Bricker ticket and 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 rally’s large turnout, most Hollywood celebrities who took public positions supported the Roosevelt–Truman ticket.[7]

In 1947, Menjou cooperated with the House Committee on Un-American Activities saying that Hollywood “is one of the main centers of Communist activity in America”. He added: “it is the desire and wish of the masters of Moscow to use this medium for their purposes” which is “the overthrow of the American government”.[8] 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, whose other members included John Wayne, Barbara Stanwyck (with whom Menjou costarred in Forbidden in 1932 and Golden Boy in 1939) and her husband, actor Robert Taylor.

Because of his political leanings, Menjou came into conflict with actress Katharine Hepburn, with whom he appeared in Morning Glory, Stage Door, and State of the Union (also starring Spencer Tracy). Hepburn was strongly opposed to the HUAC hearings, and their clashes were reportedly instant and mutually cutting. During a government deposition, Menjou said, “Scratch a do-gooder, like Hepburn, and they’ll yell, ‘Pravda’.”[9] To this, Hepburn called Menjou “wisecracking, witty—a flag-waving super-patriot who invested his American dollars in Canadian bonds and had a thing about Communists.”[9] In his book Kate, Hepburn biographer William Mann said that during the filming of State of the Union, she and Menjou spoke to each other only while acting.

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

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 a 1961 episode, “The Secret Life of James Thurber”, based on the works of American humorist James Thurber, in 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.[10] His final film role was that of the town curmudgeon in Disney’s Pollyanna (1960).

Menjou died on October 29, 1963 of hepatitis in Beverly Hills, California.

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

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

For his contributions to the motion picture industry, Menjou has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6826 Hollywood Boulevard.[13]

Because of Menjou’s public support of HUAC, the propaganda of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) often depicted their western opponents with Menjou-style moustaches, and it was considered a statement of political opposition to trim one’s moustache that way. The style became a symbol for the resourceful criminal, and in Germany is still called Menjou-Bärtchen (Menjou beardlet). In German film and theatre, dubious men, opportunists, corrupt politicians, fraudulent persuaders, marriage impostors and other “slick” criminals often wear Menjou-Bärtchen. In real life, the style is often associated with opportunism.

Salvador Dalí admired Adolphe Menjou.  He declared “la moustache d’Adolphe Menjou est surréaliste” and began offering fake mustaches from a silver cigarette case to other people with the words “Moustache? Moustache?” Moustache?”[16]

One of the most famous photographs by the avant-garde photographer Umbo is titled “Menjou En Gros” ca. 1928.

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) as Joe Winder
Wild and Woolly (1917) (uncredited)
The Amazons (1917) (uncredited)
An Even Break (1917) as Bit Part (uncredited)
The Moth (1917) as Teddy Marbridge / The Husband
What Happened to Rosa (1920) as Reporter Friend of Dr. Drew (uncredited)
The Faith Healer (1921) as Dr. Littlefield
Courage (1921) as Bruce Ferguson
Through the Back Door (1921) as James Brewster
The Three Musketeers (1921) as Louis XIII
Queenie (1921) as Count Michael
The Sheik (1921) as Dr. Raoul de St. Hubert
Head Over Heels (1922) as Sterling
Arabian Love (1922) as Captain Fortine (uncredited)
Is Matrimony a Failure? (1922) as Dudley King
The Fast Mail (1922) as Cal Baldwin
The Eternal Flame (1922) as Duc de Langeais
Pink Gods (1922) as Louis Barney
Clarence (1922) as Hubert Stein
Singed Wings (1922) as Bliss Gordon
The World’s Applause (1923) as Robert Townsend
Bella Donna (1923) as Mr. Chepstow
Rupert of Hentzau (1923) as Count Rischenheim
A Woman of Paris (1923) as Pierre Revel
The Spanish Dancer (1923) as Don Salluste
The Marriage Circle (1924) as Prof. Josef Stock
Shadows of Paris (1924) as Georges de Croy, His Secretary
The Marriage Cheat (1924) as Bob Canfield
Broadway After Dark (1924) as Ralph Norton
For Sale (1924) as Joseph Hudley
Broken Barriers (1924) as Tommy Kemp
Sinners in Silk (1924) as Arthur Merrill
Open All Night (1924) as Edmund Durverne
The Fast Set (1924) as Ernest Steel
Forbidden Paradise (1924) as Chancellor
A Kiss in the Dark (1925) as Walter Grenham
The Swan (1925) as Albert von Kersten-Rodenfels
Are Parents People? (1925) as Mr. Hazlitt
Lost: A Wife (1925) as Tony Hamilton
The King on Main Street (1925) as King Serge IV of Molvania
The Grand Duchess and the Waiter (1926) as Albert Durant
Fascinating Youth (1926) as Himself
A Social Celebrity (1926) as Max Haber
The Ace of Cads (1926) as Chappel Maturin
The Sorrows of Satan (1926) as Prince Lucio de Rimanez
Blonde or Brunette (1927) as Henri Martel
Evening Clothes (1927) as Lucien d’Artois
Service for Ladies (1927) as Albert Leroux
A Gentleman of Paris (1927) as Marquis de Marignan
Serenade (1927) as Franz Rossi
A Night of Mystery (1928) as Captain Ferreol
His Tiger Wife (1928) as Henri
His Private Life (1928, with Kathryn Carver) as Georges St. Germain
Marquis Preferred (1929) as Marquis d’Argenville
Fashions in Love (1929) as Paul de Remy
Soyons gais (1930) as Bob Brown
Mon gosse de père (1930) as Jérome
Amor audaz (1930) as Albert d’Arlons
Mysterious Mr. Parkes (1930) as Courtenay Parkes
Morocco (1930) as Monsieur La Bessiere
New Moon (1930) as Governor Boris Brusiloff
The Easiest Way (1931) as William Brockton
Men Call It Love (1931) as Tony
The Front Page (1931) as Walter Burns
The Great Lover (1931) as Jean Paurel
The Parisian (1931) as Jérome Rocheville
Friends and Lovers (1931) as Captain Geoffrey Roberts
Prestige (1931) as Capt. Remy Bandoin
Wir schalten um auf Hollywood (1931) as Himself
Forbidden (1932) as Bob
Wives Beware (1932, first film ever shown at a drive-in)[18][19][20] as Maj. Carey Liston
Bachelor’s Affairs (1932) as Andrew Hoyt
Diamond Cut Diamond (1932) as Dan McQueen
The Night Club Lady (1932) as Police Commissioner Thatcher Colt
A Farewell to Arms (1932) as Rinaldi
The Circus Queen Murder (1933) as Thatcher Colt
Morning Glory (1933) as Louis Easton
The Worst Woman in Paris? (1933) as Adolphe Ballou
Convention City (1933) as T.R. (Ted) Kent
Easy to Love (1934) as John
Journal of a Crime (1934) as Paul Moliet
The Trumpet Blows (1934) as Pancho Montes / Pancho Gomez
Little Miss Marker (1934) as Sorrowful Jones
The Great Flirtation (1934) as Stephan Karpath
The Human Side (1934) as Gregory Sheldon
The Mighty Barnum (1934) as Bailey Walsh
Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935) as Nicolai Nicoleff
Broadway Gondolier (1935) as Professor Eduardo de Vinci
The Milky Way (1936) as Gabby Sloan
Sing, Baby, Sing (1936) as Bruce Farraday
Wives Never Know (1936) as J. Hugh Ramsey
One in a Million (1936) as Tad Spencer
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 Major General Georges 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[21]
1946 This Is Hollywood The Bachelor’s Daughters[22]
See also