This picture of Charles, taken while
he was at the Conservatoire de Drame
in Paris, shows the power of the face
that was to captivate the audiences of Paris.
"La Bataille" was one of the great
Boyer hits of the French stage. He made
it as a picture fifteen years later,
which was released here as "Thunder in the East."
THE small French village of Figeac, in the year 1899,
a woman with dark eyes and dark hair sat in her little parlor, sewing.
She was taking fine economical stitches in tiny garments - fine stitches
as only a Frenchwoman can take.
And, as she stitched the diminutive garments, her face was composed, her body quiet -- but her spirit was empire-building. For into the sheer batiste she was stitching an "unalterable conviction." A con-
viction that her son, when he should be born, would be set apart from other men, remote from the ways of his fathers.
As the months drew on her dreams soared and took substance. She saw him, her only son, as a doctor of the Sorbonne. She saw him frock-coated, reading philosophy to pupils. She saw him expounding law to the less enlightened. And always she saw him as far away from the little town of Figeac, as someone honored and set apart.
That he would be exceptional, she knew. This was her unalterable conviction.
Of the way in which he would be exceptional she never dreamed.
And so on the 8th of August, 1899, to Louise Boyer, nee Durand, and to Maurice Boyer, a son was born. He was christened Charles.
His mother's first words when she gazed on him were, "His eyes are like his father's -- and yet they are not like his father's -- not like anyone's, pas du tout!"
Small wonder that the young mother of the infant Charles did not suspect the path her son's feet would travel. For there is not one drop of theatrical blood in the Boyer ancestry. He is, emphatically, what biologists call a "sport."
The father of Charles was a respected business man in the town of Figeac, as his father and his father's father had been before him. For centuries, indeed, the good bourgeois
family of Boyer had plied heir trade thriftily by
manufacturing harvesting machines, threshing machines,
silos and other farm equipment. The Boyers had served their country
well. They had married, raised families and grown old in the well-tried
paths. Nothing exotic, no departure from sturdy tradition had ever occurred
in the family -- until that morning of August 8th when the little boy
was born with dark eyes so compellingly "different" that even
his mother cried out that they were the eyes of a "stranger."