Marcel Dalio (born Israel Moshe Blauschild; 23 November 1899, Paris – 18 November 1983) was a French character actor. He had major roles in two films directed by Jean Renoir, Grand Illusion (1937) and The Rules of the Game (1939).
Life and career
Early life in France
Dalio was born Israel Moshe Blauschild in Paris to Romanian-Jewish immigrant parents. He trained at the Paris Conservatoire and performed in revues from 1920. Dalio appeared in stage plays from the 1920s and acted in French films in the 1930s. His first big film success was in Julien Duvivier's Pépé le Moko (1937). He followed them with two films for Jean Renoir, La Grande Illusion (1937) and The Rules of the Game (La Règle du jeu, 1939).
After divorcing his first wife, Jany Holt, he married the young actress Madeleine Lebeau in 1939.
In June 1940, Dalio and Lebeau left Paris ahead of the invading German army and reached Lisbon. They are presumed to have received transit visas from Aristides de Sousa Mendes, allowing them to enter Spain and journey on to Portugal. It took them two months to get visas to Chile. However, when their ship, the S.S. Quanza, stopped in Mexico, they were stranded (along with around 200 other passengers) when the Chilean visas they had purchased turned out to be forgeries. Eventually they were able to get temporary Canadian passports and entered the United States. Meanwhile, the advancing German Nazi army in occupied France used posters of his face as a representative of "a typical Jew". All other members of Dalio's family died in Nazi concentration camps.
In Hollywood, although Dalio was never quite able to rescale the heights of prominence that he had enjoyed in France, he appeared in 19 American movies during the Second World War, in stereotypical roles as a Frenchman. Dalio's first movie in the United States was the Fred MacMurray comedy One Night in Lisbon (1941) in which he portrayed a hotel concierge. Around the same time, he appeared in the Edward G. Robinson movie Unholy Nights and the Gene Tierney movie The Shanghai Gesture (also 1941). He remained busy, appearing in Flight Lieutenant (1942) starring Pat O'Brien and Glenn Ford. Dalio next portrayed a Frenchman, Focquet, in the movie The Pied Piper. In this movie, Monty Woolley portrayed an Englishman trying to get out of France with an ever-increasing number of children ahead of the German invasion. Dalio then appeared among the star-studded cast in Tales of Manhattan (both 1942).
In the uncredited role of Emil the croupier in Casablanca (also 1942), he appeared in the scene when Captain Renault closes down Rick's Cafe American using the pretext, "I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!", Emil approaches him and hands him his usual bribe money saying, "Your winnings sir.", while Rick darts Emile a flabbergasted look. His wife Madeleine Lebeau was also in the film, playing Yvonne, Rick's intermittent girlfriend. On June 22, while Lebeau was filming her scenes with Hans Twardowski as the German officer, Dalio filed for divorce in Los Angeles on the grounds of desertion.
He was cast in some larger roles, for example in the war dramas Tonight We Raid Calais and Paris After Dark (both 1943), in the later his ex-wife Lebeau also appeared. Dalio played a French policeman in The Song of Bernadette (also 1943). His penultimate wartime role in an American film was in the adaptation of To Have and Have Not (1944) reuniting him with Humphrey Bogart.
When the war in Europe ended in May 1945, Dalio returned to France to continue his movie career. His first appearance that year was in Her Final Role (Son dernier rôle, 1946). He appeared in ten more movies in France and one in England through the late 1940s. He played Captain Nikarescu in Black Jack (1950).
Dalio appeared in four American movies in the mid-1950s. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes starring Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe and Flight to Tangier (both 1953) starring Joan Fontaine, Lucky Me starring Doris Day and Sabrina (both 1954) starring Bogart and Audrey Hepburn. In Sabrina, the bearded Dalio played one of Hepburn's fellow cooking students in Paris. He then briefly returned to France.
Dalio portrayed the Claude Rains character, Captain Renault, in the short-lived television series Casablanca (1955). Dalio had the role of a French sergeant in the war drama Jump into Hell (also 1955) about the French defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam. Dalio appeared in the musical comedy Ten Thousand Bedrooms starring Dean Martin, with Paul Henreid in the supporting cast. He also appeared as a French priest in a war movie, again about the French involvement in Vietnam, called China Gate which features the acting of Nat King Cole. Finally that year, Dalio played Zizi in The Sun Also Rises (all 1957) his third movie based on an Ernest Hemingway novel, this time starring Tyrone Power and Ava Gardner. In the next four years, he went on to appear in Lafayette Escadrille, The Perfect Furlough (both 1958) starring Tony Curtis, The Man Who Understood Women starring Henry Fonda, Pillow Talk (both 1959) starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day, Can-Can (1960) starring Frank Sinatra and The Devil at 4 O'Clock (1961) starring Sinatra and Spencer Tracy.
After making some more movies in France, Dalio received a small role in the mystery The List of Adrian Messenger (1963), again with Sinatra and Curtis. This was followed with the part of Father Cluzeot in the John Wayne movie, Donovan's Reef (also 1963). After appearing again with Tony Curtis in Wild and Wonderful (1964), Dalio returned to France. He continued making movies for Hollywood, but he also appeared in many French productions.
Some later movies of Dalio's include Lady L (1965) starring Sophia Loren and Paul Newman, How to Steal a Million (1966) starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole and How Sweet It Is! (1968) starring Debbie Reynolds and James Garner. Dalio played the "dirty" old Italian in Catch-22 and also appeared in The Great White Hope (both 1970) with James Earl Jones. After this, he did movies almost entirely in France, the best known of them being The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob (1973) and La Bête (1975) directed by Walerian Borowczyk. His last appearance was in a TV movie portraying Lord Exeter in Les Longuelune (1982).
Dalio also appeared in numerous television shows both in the United States (between 1954 and 1963) and in France (1968 to 1981). These include guest appearances in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Peter Gunn, 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick, Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond and Ben Casey.
Dalio married Hollywood based French journalist Madeleine [Alena] Prime in Los Angeles, in 1981.
Dalio, who appeared in almost 150 movies, died in Paris on 18 November 1983 at the age of 83. He is buried in Cimetière parisien de Bagneux in Hauts de Seine, France.
- The Night at the Hotel (1932)
- Return to Paradise (1935)
- Pépé le Moko (1937)
- Sarati the Terrible (1937)
- Miarka (1937)
- La Grande Illusion (1937)
- White Cargo (1937)
- Conflict (1938)
- Mollenard (1938)
- The Curtain Rises (1938)
- Sacred Woods (1939)
- La Règle du jeu (1939)
- Thunder Over Paris (1940)
- The Shanghai Gesture (1941)
- One Night in Lisbon (1941)
- Casablanca (1942) as Emil, the croupier
- Paris After Dark (1943)
- To Have and Have Not (1944) as Gérard (Frenchy)
- Wilson (1944) as Premier Georges Clemenceau
- Her Final Role (1946)
- The Damned (1947)
- Snowbound (1948)
- Oriental Port (1950)
- Sabrina (1954) as Baron St. Fontanel
- China Gate (1957)
- Razzia sur la chnouf (1955)
- Pillow Talk (1959)
- Can-Can (1960)
- The Devil at 4 O'Clock (1961)
- Donovan's Reef (1963)
- Le Diable et les Dix Commandements (1963)
- The List of Adrian Messenger (1963)
- Wild and Wonderful (1964)
- Lady L (1965)
- How to Steal a Million (1966)
- How Sweet It Is! (1968)
- Catch-22 (1970)
- The Great White Hope (1970)
- The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob (1973)
- Trop c'est trop (1975)
- La Bête (1975)
- Shadow of the Castles (1977)
- Surprise Sock (1978) as Monsieur L'église