Fernandel (left) and Totò in La legge è legge (1958)

Fernand Joseph Désiré Contandin (8 May 1903 – 26 February 1971) (aged 67), better known as Fernandel, was a French actor and singer. Born in Marseille, France, to Désirée Bedouin and Denis Contandin, originating in Perosa Argentina, an Occitan town located in the province of Turin.[1] He was a comedy star who first gained popularity in French vaudeville, operettas, and music-hall revues. His stage name originated from his marriage to Henriette Manse, the sister of his best friend and frequent cinematic collaborator Jean Manse. So attentive was he to his wife that his mother-in-law amusingly referred to him as Fernand d'elle ("her Fernand").[2][3]


In 1930, Fernandel appeared in his first motion picture and for more than forty years he would be France's top comic actor. He was perhaps best-loved for his portrayal of the irascible Italian village priest at war with the town's Communist mayor in the Don Camillo series of motion pictures. His horse-like teeth became part of his trademark.

He also appeared in Italian and American films. His first Hollywood motion picture was 1956's Around the World in 80 Days in which he played David Niven's coachman. His popular performance in that film led to his starring with Bob Hope and Anita Ekberg in the 1958 comedy Paris Holiday.

In addition to acting, Fernandel also directed or co-produced several of his own films. The most famous movies where Fernandel explodes on film, are those of the great Marcel Pagnol.

Fernandel died from lung cancer and is buried in the Cimetière de Passy, Paris, France.


In The Stranger by Albert Camus, Meursault and his female friend Marie Cordona watch a movie starring Fernandel on the day after the funeral of Meursault's mother.

Selected filmography

Main article: Filmography of Fernandel (French)
Year Title Role Director
1931 On purge bébé Horace Truchet Jean Renoir
The Darling of Paris Ficelle Augusto Genina
1932 Fun in the Barracks Vanderague Maurice Tourneur
1934 Angèle Saturnin Marcel Pagnol
1937 Harvest Urbain Gédémus Marcel Pagnol
1938 Ernest the Rebel Ernest Pic Christian-Jaque
Hercule Hercule Maffre Alexander Esway
1939 Berlingot and Company François Fernand Rivers
Fric-Frac Marcel Claude Autant-Lara and Maurice Lehmann
1940 La Fille du Puisatier "Félipe Rambert Marcel Pagnol
1943 Adrien Adrien Moulinet Fernandel
1945 Nais Toine Raymond Leboursier
1951 Boniface somnambule Victor Boniface Maurice Labro
1951 The Red Inn The Monk Claude Autant-Lara
1951 I'm in the Revue "Fernand, the painter" Mario Soldati
1951 Le Petit Monde de Don Camillo Don Camillo Julien Duvivier
1952 Forbidden Fruit Doctor Charles Pellegrin Henri Verneuil
The Return of Don Camillo Don Camillo Julien Duvivier
1953 Mam'zelle Nitouche Célestin Floridor Yves Allégret
1954 The Sheep Has Five Legs Alain/ Désiré/ Étienne/ Bernard/Charles/Édouard (their father) Henri Verneuil
1956 Around the World in 80 Days cameo appearance as a coachman in Paris Michael Anderson
The Man in the Raincoat Albert Constantin Julien Duvivier
The Virtuous Bigamist Paul Verdier Mario Soldati
1957 Paris Holiday Fernydel Gerd Oswald
The Law Is the Law Ferdinand Pastorelli Christian-Jaque
1958 La Vie à deux Marcel Gaboufigue" (Marguerite's husband) Clément Duhour
1959 La Vache et le Prisonnier Charles Bailly Henri Verneuil
1961 The Last Judgement the widower Vittorio De Sica
1962 Le Diable et les Dix Commandements Father Gilbert Julien Duvivier
1963 La Cuisine au beurre Fernand Jouvin Gilles Grangier
1965 Don Camillo in Moscow Don Camillo Luigi Comencini


  1. "Le borgate". http://www.comune.perosaargentina.to.it/ (in Italian). Comune di Perosa Argentina. 28 December 2009. Retrieved 11 June 2015. External link in |website= (help)
  2. Fernandel 19031971 (biography). French Film Guide.
  3. Dayna Oscherwitz; MaryEllen Higgins (2009). The A to Z of French Cinema. Scarecrow Press. pp. 162–. ISBN 978-0-8108-7038-3.
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