Gérard Philipe (4 December 1922 – 25 November 1959) was a prominent French actor who appeared in 34 films between 1944 and 1959. Active in both theater and cinema, he was, until his untimely death, one of the main stars of the post-war period. The public keeps a juvenile and romantic image of him which makes him one of the icons of French cinema.
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Born in Cannes, as a teenager Philipe took acting lessons before going to Paris to study at the Conservatory of Dramatic Art. At age 19, he made his stage debut at a theater in Nice and the following year his strong performance in the Albert Camus play, Caligula, brought an invitation to work with the Théâtre national populaire (T.N.P.) in Paris and Avignon, whose festival, founded in 1947 by Jean Vilar, is France`s oldest and most famous.
Philipe made his film debut in 1943 in Les Petites du Quai aux Fleurs and after a few more minor film roles, he rocketed to fame as a result of his performance in Claude Autant-Lara`s 1947 film Devil in the Flesh. Adored by young women for his good looks, Gérard Philipe was also a very talented actor and highly regarded by his peers. He played roles as diverse as Faust and Modigliani and he was sought out by France`s preeminent directors for his versatility and professionalism.
In 1951, Philipe married Nicole Fourcade (1917–1990) with whom he had two children. An actress and writer who adopted the pseudonym, Anne Philipe, she wrote about her husband in two books, the first called Souvenirs, published in 1960 and in 1963 a second biography titled Le Temps d`un soupir (No Longer Than a Sigh).
Recognized worldwide for his talent, he was at the pinnacle of his career when, a few days short of his 37th birthday, Philipe died from liver cancer while working on a film project in Paris. He is buried in the village cemetery in Ramatuelle, Var near the Mediterranean Sea coast.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of film in 1995, the government of France issued a series of limited edition coins that included a 100 Franc coin bearing the image of Philipe. One of the most popular French actors of his time, his image has been enhanced by his young death at the peak of his popularity and has elevated him to near legendary status in France. In 1961, his portrait appeared on a French commemorative postage stamp. There is a film festival named in his honor as well as a number of theaters, schools (ex: College Gérard Philipe - Cogolin) and colleges in various parts of France. Also very popular in Germany, a theater has also been named for him in Berlin.
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