Jean Gabin

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Jean Gabin, right
Jean Gabin, 1918
Record, Jean Gabin sings with Mistinguett , ca.1927

Jean Gabin , actually Jean-Alexis Moncorgé (born May 17, 1904 in Paris , † November 15, 1976 in Neuilly-sur-Seine ), was a French actor and chansonnier in his younger years . From the late 1930s onwards he was one of the leading character actors in French cinema and also enjoyed great international renown .

Short biography

Jean Gabin's apartment in Mériel, 2011

The son of two vaudeville artists , Ferdinand Gabin (1868–1933) and Hélène Petit (1865–1918), appeared in around a hundred films. His screen presence and minimalist style made him an icon of French cinema . But at first he didn't want to be in the limelight, he even ran away from home. He also worked in the factory until his parents convinced him to perform on stage . He started out as an extra and worked as a singer and dancer in operettas and vaudeville pieces.

In 1930 he went to film and became a star in 1937 with Pépé le Moko - In the Dark of Algiers . He also sang the theme song in this film. The three films that followed, The Great Illusion , Port in the Fog and Beast Man, made him a myth and important actor of poetic realism in France in his mid-thirties .

In 1941 he followed his great love Marlene Dietrich to Hollywood , where he made two films. But he returned to Europe and in 1943 joined the French Free Forces , the Forces navales françaises libres of the French Navy . He took part in the liberation of France as a tank commander of the fusiliers marins ( 2nd tank division ) and received high awards. After the end of the war he left the army .

Jean Gabin Museum in Mériel, 2011

His first post-war films were failures. It was not until 1954, after When night falls in Paris , that he was able to continue his pre-war career. At this time Gabin found the role subject that was now suitable for him. Grayed early and looking ten years older, he now usually gave the grumpy senior, who acted with unwavering authority. The strong dominance and presence of the actor with the massive skull meant that he was used in leading roles until the end of his life. Gabin enjoyed enormous popularity with his compatriots and became a French institution, but was also an international star beyond France.

Film viewers in German-speaking countries should have remembered Gabin in the role of Commissioner Maigret . He played the commissioner in three films: Commissioner Maigret sets a trap (1958), Maigret knows no mercy (1959) and Commissioner Maigret sees red! (1963). Georges Simenon praised that Gabin "filled the role thanks to his unique personality". Gabin also played a leading role in the film adaptation of four other novels by Simenon, for example in 1958 in With the Arms of a Woman at Brigitte Bardot's side .

In the 1960s and 1970s, he appeared in various comedies. In 1968 he also played alongside Louis de Funès in Balduin, the night ghost . In addition, Gabin continued to shine in major character roles, such as in 1971 in Die Katzen directed by Pierre Granier-Deferre .

Gabin was dubbed in Germany a. a. by Paul Klinger and Hansjörg Felmy , but especially by Klaus W. Krause since the 1950s .


Bust of Jean Gabin in Mériel , 2007

In his first marriage Gabin was married to Gaby Basset since 1927. He divorced and married Christiane Dominique Fournier in 1949, with whom he had three children, Florence (1950), Valérie (1952) and Matthias (1956).

Gabin lived a secluded life and showed no interest in the glamor of the film industry. In addition to acting , he had an expensive hobby; he ran a 100 hectare estate in Normandy , where he bred trotting horses. Gabin died of heart failure in the Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine at the age of 72 . A few days later, his ashes were scattered in the sea by the warship Détroyat off Brest . Five years after his death, the Jean Gabin Prize was launched in 1981 in memory of him .

Filmography (selection)

Awards (selection)


  • Jean-Michel Betti: Salute, Gabin! Ed. de Trévise, Paris 1977.
  • André Brunelin: Jean Gabin (original title: Gabin , translated by Klaus Budzinski). Herbig, Munich / Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-7766-1499-4 ; Ullstein TB 36650, Frankfurt am Main / Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-548-35650-8 .
  • Claude Gauteur: Jean Gabin. Nathan, Paris 1993, ISBN 3-453-86038-1 .
  • Jean-Marc Loubier: Jean Gabin, Marlène Dietrich: un rêve brisé , Acropole, Paris 2002, ISBN 2-7357-0216-2 .


  • An unfinished love. Marlene Dietrich and Jean Gabin. Documentary, Germany, 2012, 52:30 min., Script and director: Daniel Guthmann, Christian Buckard , production: DG Filmproduktion, WDR , arte , first broadcast: February 9, 2013 on arte, summary by arte.

Web links

Commons : Jean Gabin  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. Thilo Wydra: So big, so unfinished. In: Der Tagesspiegel , January 19, 2013, accessed on December 2, 2019 .
  2. ^ Fenton Bresler: Georges Simenon. In search of the "naked" person . Ernst Kabel, Hamburg 1985, ISBN 3-921909-93-7 , pp. 328-330.
  3. Klaus Nerger: Jean Gabin. In: Retrieved December 2, 2019 .