THE TOUGH GUY WITH A HEART OF GOLD
As a child, Jean only dreamed of one thing: trains! He wanted to be train driver and tame those great iron horses. He spent long hours watching them at the village station, to the great displeasure of his father, who only dreamed of one thing: an artistic career for his son. Employing an ingenious stratagem, Jean Gabin’s father dragged him along to the Folies-Bergères pretending that he had an invitation to a show. While the young man was absorbed in the contemplation of the formidable backstage machinery, his father approached the stage manager and asked him to try his son out as an extra because ‘he wanted to be in the theatre.
So Jean Gabin began his stage career as an extra, which he spoke of, with the Parisian cheek for which he was known, as: ‘Playing lampposts in the distance.’ It was on the stage of the Moulin Rouge that Jean Gabin was revealed to the public alongside Mistinguett, who hired him for his resemblance to Maurice Chevalier (who she simply couldn’t forget) in the review ‘Paris qui tourne’!