Gabriel Gabrio (Edouard Gabriel Lelièvre)
BiographyReims, Marne, France
The youngest of no less than sixteen children, Gabriel Gabrio was born in Reims in 1887. His father worked for the Pommeray Champagne cellars but his son was soon more attracted to the theater than to the bubbles of the famous French sparkling white wine. Puppet theater was his first passion. He was only seven. Later on, after being an apprentice stained glass window painter, he made his first appearance at the Casino of his home town. He also played for five years at the Kursaal. Read more... the troops as soon as it was possible. And he did it for the whole of the four years of the conflict! He resumed civilian work immediately after the end of hostilities, but in Paris this time. He trod the boards of such theaters as the Théâtre des Ambassadeurs, Gaîté Rochechouart, Comédie Montaigne, Gymnase, Odéon, Marigny ... in plays by Shaw, Shakespeare, Bernstein and de la Fouchardière among others. In 1924, he was given the opportunity to shine on the big screen where his second movie 'Les Misérables' made him a star as Javert, the resentful policeman who relentlessly pursues Jean Valjean. From 1928, and for several years, his career became international: he starred in German, English and Spanish films. Unfortunately most of the movies he made in twenty years' time were just commercial. Nevertheless some of the roles this stout burly actor with a boxer's face played besides hosts of gangsters and other brutes, are memorable, mainly the tough characters he embodied in such classics as Raymond Bernard's 'Les Croix de Bois' (as the grumpy soldier), Gance's 'Lucrèce Borgia' (as the redoubtable Cesare Borgia), Duvivier's 'Pépé le Moko' (as Carlos) or Carné's 'Les Visiteurs du Soir' (as the executioner). He was at his best in his only foray into the universe of Marcel Pagnol (and Jean Giono for that matter) as Panturle, the last inhabitant of Aubignane who manages to revive his dying village. His poor health caused him to interrupt his activities prematurely and he retired into the village of Berchères-sur-Vesgre, in the West of France, where a street has been named after him. He died in 1946 aged only 59. Gabriel Gabrio is unjustly forgotten and his 'hefty' contribution to the French cinema should be re-appraised.