Bourvil, who died 52 years ago: the woman of his life, his children and his hidden face

Who was really Bourvil, artist broke in full glory at 53? Family, jealousy, illness and secrets... Find out what you (perhaps) don't know about André Robert Raimbourg...

  Bourvil, who died 52 years ago: the woman of his life, his children and his hidden face

September 23, 2022 marks 52 years since the death of Bourvil , which continues to live on through the memory of the French. But who was the legendary comedian? From his childhood, this son of Norman farmers, whose real name is André Robert Raimbourg , dreams of acting like his Fernandel idol . It is thanks to him that Bourvil decides to try his luck in the artistic world. His first steps, he took them in the army by deciding to enlist (before the call) and by integrating the regimental band as a cornetist. Then, the budding artist invests the music-hall and cabaret scenes to make comic imitations of his idol Fernandel or to interpret a character of his creation, the ' comic-peasant '. In 1945, he began his career with that song Pencils and is gradually gaining a place of choice in the world of French cinema.

He plays with the greatest directors, from Jean-Pierre Mocky in Melville Passing by Gerard Oury . It spins with Brigitte Bardot , Jean-Paul Belmondo and Michèle Morgan. We always remember him in The big mop and The Corniaud , where he replies to Louis de Funes , Birth of a myth...

Bourvil and de Funès: jealousy and misunderstanding

If Bourvil often shares the bill with Louis de Funes , the second has real moose of jealousy towards the first. During the filming of Horns , the director Gerard Oury shows five hours of rushes from the film to the man with forty faces, in which only Bourvil can be seen...

Furious at being upstaged, Louis de Funès had a monumental fit of jealousy to the point of making a ' mask strike ' for 24 hours, that is, play only the written part of the script, without doing the legendaries grimaces and facial expressions that characterize the actor... Finally, other scenes with Louis de Funès are added, including that of the shower with the muscular man.

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Bourvil: the day he was close to death

Decidedly, the filming of Horns is not easy, since Bourvil close to death shooting a scene in a Cadillac. He inadvertently backs up when he is on the pier in the port of Naples... but (fortunately) manages to maneuver to stop a few steps from the void ... Phew!

Bourvil with the family: wife and children

Bourvil is also a husband and father fulfilled, who does not hesitate to take at least six weeks of leave a year to enjoy his family. With his wife Jeanne Lefrique , he has two sons, Dominique , born in 1950, and Philippe , born in 1953. The first is currently lawyer and was MP for Loire-Atlantique until 2017, the second is finance teacher at Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University and ESCP Europe. The actor and his wife take advantage of their love, sometimes in their parisian apartment , sometimes in their country house in Montainville , in the Yvelines, near their neighbor and friend Georges Brassens.

Bourvil: the hidden side

Jean-Pierre Mocky, who knows the mythical comedian well, revealed another facet of Bourvil , near TV Magazine : ' They say he was nice. Nope, he was not nice at all. He was angry and hated being taken for a fool. He said he was an artist and that he could play, like Fernandel, dramatic roles. But, as he was of peasant origin, he was confined to the roles of an idiot, thinking that he had no personality. '.

Illness and death

In 1967, while filming in Les Cracks , by Marcel Camus, Bourvil has a bicycle accident rather serious and was rushed to hospital. It is by making a more thorough examination that he learns that he is atteint of Kahler's malady, bone marrow cancer. He decides to silence his disease . Only his wife and his brother are aware of the evil that is eating away at him.

His chances of survival are almost impossible, but the actor contacts as many doctors and other practitioners as possible to try to cure his illness. Nevertheless, he died September 23, 1970 in his Parisian apartment, not without suffering, after playing in his last film, The Atlantic Wall , of Marcel Camus...

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'No one forgot it'

So he is buried in Montainville cemetery , where he had his country house. Proof that the French continue to keep his memory alive, the tomb is still regularly visited .

' Many popular artists who died in the last half-century, including Romy Schneider buried only eight kilometers from Bourvil, in Boissy-sans-Avoir, chose to be buried outside Paris under monuments that nothing distinguishes from their neighbors. However, Bourvil's grave is still covered with fresh flowers mixed with messages of admiration. no one forgot it “, explained Bertrand Beyern, guide of cemeteries, near the Figaro .

Death of his wife

Are spouse , she died 16 years later. As she goes to the Montainville cemetery to put flowers on her husband's grave, she is Victim of a terrible road accident which takes his life. Jeanne Lefrique is then buried in the family vault , near Bourvil. United in death...