French Actor Jacques Bergerac Dies at 87

Jacques Bergerac with Ginger Rogers.
Jacques Bergerac with Ginger Rogers.
 AP Images

Jacques Bergerac, a dashing French actor who appeared in Les Girls with Gene Kelly and Gigi with Leslie Caron and made a habit of marrying Oscar-winning actresses, has died. He was 87.

Bergerac died June 15 at his home in Anglet in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques region of southwest France, according to French media reports.

Bergerac was married to Oscar-winning actresses Ginger Rogers (as the fourth of her five husbands, he was 26 years old, 16 years her junior, when they were wed) and Dorothy Malone (as the first of her three husbands).

Bergerac also starred in the horror cult classic The Hypnotic Eye (1960) as a mysterious hypnotist who entrances women to gruesomely disfigure themselves.

The film introduced “HypnoMagic,” billed as an “amazing new audience thrill that makes YOU part of the show!” The effect had Bergerac’s character, Desmond, looking directly into the camera and performing hypnotic suggestibility tests with the audience.

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Bergerac also played French Freddy/Freddie the Fence on episodes of TV’s Batman that featured guest villainesses Catwoman (Julie Newmar) and Minerva (Zsa Zsa Gabor).

Bergerac was a law student when he met a vacationing Rogers in France, and she got him a screen test at MGM that led to them appearing together in Twist of Fate (1954). In the drama, he plays a pottery artist who gets involved with an American actress (Rogers) on the French Riviera.

They were married from February 1953 until their divorce in July 1957.

Bergerac married Malone in June 1959 in Hong Kong, where she was shooting The Last Voyage (1960). They divorced in December 1964 in acrimonious proceedings that played out in the press.

In addition to George Cukor’s Les Girls and Vincente Minnelli’s Gigi, Bergerac was seen in such films as Thunder in the Sun (1959) with Susan Hayward, Fear No More (1961), Always on Sunday (1962), Fury of Achilles (1962), A Global Affair (1964) and Unkissed Bride (1966) with Henny Youngman.

On television, he appeared on The Millionaire, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Dick Van Dyke Show, 77 Sunset Strip, Perry Mason, The Beverly Hillbillies, Daniel Boone, Get Smart and The Doris Day Show.

After leaving the film business in the late 1960s, Bergerac, a naturalized U.S. citizen since 1963, became an executive with the Revlon Cosmetics company, where his older brother, Michel, was president and chairman. He later ran the Biarritz Olympique rugby club in the early 1980s.

He had two daughters, Mimi and Diane, with Malone.

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