Louis Jourdan

Louis Jourdan Biography

Louis Jourdan as Kamal Khan

Louis Jourdan was a French film and television actor known for his suave roles in Hollywood films. He was born on June 19, 1921, in Marseille, France, as Louis Robert Gendre. He was educated in France, Turkey, and the UK and studied acting at the École Dramatique.

Louis Jourdan began acting on the professional stage, where he was noticed by director Marc Allégret, who gave him a chance to work as an assistant camera operator on Entrée des Artistes.

After making several films in France, Louis Jourdan was spotted by a talent scout working for David O. Selznick, who offered him a contract in March 1946. His first American film was The Paradine Case (1947) directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Jourdan frequently argued with Selznick, who put him on suspension a number of times for refusing roles. Louis Jourdan bought out his contract with Selznick for $50,000 and moved on to work for 20th Century Fox.


Jourdan’s most famous films include Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), Gigi (1958), where he played the male lead in Gigi alongside Leslie Caron and Maurice Chevalier, which won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Other notable films include The Best of Everything (1959), and Bond 13 Octopussy (1983), where he was cast as Bond villain Kamal Khan. He also appeared in a variety show on TV, An Evening with Louis Jourdan.

Jourdan also had success on Broadway, making his debut in the lead role in the Billy Rose stage adaptation of André Gide’s novel, The Immoralist. He later appeared in the musical Can-Can (1960) alongside Frank Sinatra and Shirley MacLaine.

In addition to his film and stage work, Louis Jourdan appeared on television, including a starring role in the 1977 BBC television production Count Dracula. His last film role was in Year of the Comet (1992).

Louis Jourdan was married to his childhood sweetheart, Berthe Frédérique, from 1946 until his death in 2015 at the age of 93.