"French, English, German spoken here," read the caption for this 1942 news item. Boyer, his British wife Pat Paterson, and German actor Conrad Veidt have a cheery chat in a theatre lobby.

 

Charles Boyer grasped the deadly potential of Nazi Germany when many people, especially in America, were either unaware of what was happening, or thought Adolf Hitler was a joke. Boyer even joined the French Army, at age 40, but his services were short-lived, not only because of France's capitulation to Hitler, but, he suspected, because persons in the power structure of the movie industry may have contrived to have him released from French military service. He did however remain involved with the Free French, maintaining regular contact with the Resistance.

 

During the filming of Gaslight (1944), Charles became a father for the first and only time when Pat Boyer gave birth to their son Michael. Boyer's costar Ingrid Bergman recalled: "He had a son! Champagne! -- everybody had to have champagne and Charles' tears falling into every glass. You'd think no one in the world had ever had a son before."

 

 

Bergman was also his co-star in the ill-received Arch of Triumph (1948), and it was after completing this film that Boyer began to be on the lookout for supporting roles as a character actor. He was wise to the ways of Hollywood, and suspected that his days of leading-man stardom were waning. He also returned to stage roles periodically in New York and London.

 

 

By the 1950's, television was a force to be reckoned with, and Boyer joined with actors Dick Powell and David Niven to form "Four Star Productions" (the fourth star was supposed to've been Joel McCrea, but he backed out).
"Four Star Playhouse" was the company's flagship program, with the partners rotating as stars of dramatic and comedic half-hour shows. Boyer himself appeared in close to thirty programs over the show's six seasons. Throughout the 60's Boyer continued making films, most notably Fanny (1961) with Leslie Caron and old friend Maurice Chevalier, How to Steal a Million (1966) with Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole, and Barefoot in the Park (1967) where his performance opposite Jane Fonda, Robert Redford and Mildred Natwick contained all of the insouciant vigor of some of his earlier films. His final film performance was in Vincente Minnelli's 1976 A Matter of Time, which also starred Ingrid Bergman and Liza Minnelli.

 

Tragedy struck in Boyer's later years. His son Michael committed suicide at age 21, reportedly over a broken relationship with the young woman he wished to marry. Then, in 1977 Pat Boyer was diagnosed with cancer and Charles devoted himself to her care during her long illness.

Pat died on August 23, 1978, and after her funeral, Charles quietly put his afffairs in order. On August 25, two days before his 79th birthday, he took a fatal overdose of barbituates. He was buried alongside his wife in Holy Cross Cemetary in Los Angeles.


 

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