Obituary: Jacqueline Delubac
Friday 17 October 1997
"I am 50 today. Jacqueline is 25. What could be more reasonable than that I make her my better half?" So said Sacha Guitry - actor, dramatist, film-maker, wit and, for 60 years, the epitome of Parisian boulevardier panache - of his marriage to Jacqueline Delubac in 1935.
Delubac was the third of Guitry's five wives and protegees. The first was Charlotte Lyses, then came Yvonne Printemps, who might be described as the French Gertrude Lawrence. Then, in fourth position, Genevieve de Sereville, and, last, Lana Marconi . Printemps apart, the career of each of these actresses was entirely predicted on Guitry's patronage. As soon as he had divorced them, they were, professionally speaking, finished.
So it was with Jacqueline Delubac, whose filmography abruptly tails off in the Fifties after their estrangement. Unlike either de Sereville or Marconi, however, she was more than just a chic stooge. Even if one cannot abide Guitry's flamboyant urbanity and nasally whinnying delivery, it is possible to enjoy the dozen feathery comedies in which they co-starred (and all of which he directed) for their pert, soubrettish leading lady, with her near-supernatural vivacity, her deliciously retrousse nose, her oddly flapping lips - you have to see her deliver one of Guitry's mots to know what I am talking about - and her charming artlessness. Never at a loss for words, Guitry himself evoked her appeal thus: "You turn up from the provinces - and you look it - just a year on, one wonders if you were born in La Villette or Montmartre and, 18 months after that, you've become so indelibly Parisian one begins to suspect you might be a foreigner."
In fact, it was in Lyon, the capital, as it were, of the French provinces, that she was born - into a family which had amassed a fortune from the manufacture of artificial silk. From her earliest youth, however, her resolve was to become an actress; and, by the mid-Thirties, she had gravitated to Paris, where she appeared in a revue, impersonating, quite unimaginably, Josephine Baker. Possibly realising that there was no future in so patent a misdirection of her talents, she arranged to have herself introduced to Guitry, who immediately cast her in a new play, Villa a vendre, and, slightly less immediately, married her.
Thereafter, she was his glamorous foil in a series of now classic movie comedies. In Bonne Chance (1935) she played his gambling partner. In Faisons un reve (Let's Dream Together, 1936), a seamless confection, as airy, hollow and insubstantial as a bubble, perhaps, but an amorously chiselled one, she has a knack all her own of "witticising" an ostensibly innocuous line of dialogue that makes one regret she never played Wilde or Coward. ("My darling," she pointedly asks a philandering Guitry at the breakfast table, "will you please give me a direct answer to a direct question? Do you or do you not want butter on your toast?") And in Mon Pere avait raison (My Father Was Right, 1937), a self-styled "light tragedy" which, on stage, had featured Sacha's own father, the great Lucien Guitry, she so persuasively captured the style of the original that Guitry absent- mindedly remarked to his director of photography, "I love the way you lit that scene between my father and Jacqueline".
Jacqueline Delubac, in short, never put a foot wrong. Except, alas, in the circumstances of her passing. She died, at 87, as a result of injuries sustained in a traffic accident.
- 1 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 2 Nick Kyrgios calls former Olympian Dawn Fraser a 'blatant racist' after she tells Wimbledon star to 'go back where their parents came from'
- 3 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 4 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
- 5 The Greece debt crisis explained in less than 100 words
Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Tube strike July 2015: Is it still on? Everything you need to know about the industrial action
Eiji Tsuburaya: Godzilla co-creator honoured in today's interactive Google Doodle
Florida teacher sentenced to 22 years in prison for sexually abusing three pupils
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...