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."
IN 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."
    They would have felt disgraced, those early Boyers, if a son or daughter of theirs had followed the frivolous calling of the stage. That was another world to them. One with which they had no traffic.
    But the mother of Charles had dreamed, not as other women. She had been "visited" by her strange conviction. And when she looked into the even-then mysterious face of her small son she again was overcome with the certainty that this boy was not as other boys.
    Certainly, the small Charles took his first steps in a world completely divorced from anything theatrical. His baby ears were attuned from birth, not to the grandiloquent words of mummers, but to the whir of machinery coming from the small industrious factory next door. For Boyer pere had installed his factory in one side of a comfortable double house in Figeac, and his family in the other half of it. Small Charles grew up with the hum and throb of machinery in his ears, with the sight of men in overalls. A life and a people far removed from the exoticism of the life the boy was destined to lead.
    Louise Durand, as she watched her son's first steps, marveled at his prodigious memory. For at the age of two he knew the names of all of his father's apprentices and the names of all the farm implements manufactured. Here, indeed, was not "just another Boyer" -- but one the whole world would know by name and by fame.


Magazines menu