Eddie Constantine

Eddie Constantine, 75, American actor who became famous in Europe by portraying American tough-guy characters in films, died Feb. 25 in Wiesbaden, Germany, of a heart attack.

Born in Los Angeles to Russian immigrant parents, Constantine was sent by his father, an opera baritone, to Vienna to study voice. On return to the States, however, the only singing appearance he made was as part of the chorus in a Radio City Music Hall production. After a few extra parts in films, Constantine followed his then-wife, ballet dancer Helene Mussel, to Paris when she joined the Ballet de Monte Carlo. In Paris, he began singing in nightclubs.

Through a friendship with Edith Piaf, Constantine achieved popularity as a recording artist.

Constantine was discovered in Paris by film director Bernard Borderie, who in 1953 cast him as detective Lemmy Caution, which became his signature role. He became famous portraying the tough, American, whiskey-drinking ladies’ man in a series of French action thrillers and as the hero of Peter Cheyney mysteries. Film credits of this period include “F.B.I. Seeks Lemmy Caution,””Hot Lips — Cold Steel” and “In Blonde Satan’s Spell.”

Constantine later starred in films of other genres, but his fame was mainly based on his tough, American persona and his trademarks — a cigarette hanging from his lip, a glass of whiskey in one hand, a beautiful blonde on his arm.

In 1965, Constantine starred in Jean-Luc Godard’s futuristic sci-fi classic “Alphaville.” His popularity waned during the late ’60s, but with the rise of the new German filmmakers in the 1970s, his screen career was revived. In 1975 he starred in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “Beware of a Holy Whore.” He also starred in German television dramas in the 1970s and ’80s and was the subject of a recent film retrospective in Germany. Constantine was the author of a novel, “La Proprietaire,” an English-language translation of which was published in the U.S. in 1976 as “The Godplayer.”

Eventually, Constantine became a French citizen.

Survived by his third wife, Maja Faber-Janssen, and a daughter, Mia Belle Marie.

More Scene

  • Eric Wareheim, 'The Simpsons' E.P. Matt

    Beefsteak Gathers Comedy Bigwigs for Meat and Mayhem

    The masterminds behind Beefsteak, a debauched tribute to the meaty arts that raises thousands for the Los Angeles Food Bank, switch things up each year so that guests are never bored. Organized by comedy players including Eric Wareheim, “The Simpsons” executive producer Matt Selman, and ABC Studios VP of comedy Cort Cass with Redbird chef Neal [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron71st Annual Writers Guild Awards,

    Alfonso Cuarón on Academy's 'Inevitable' Reversal on Televised Oscar Categories

    Alfonso Cuarón isn’t exactly surprised that the Academy reversed its decision and will now air all the Oscar categories during the live show on Sunday. Feb. 24. Calling the decision “inevitable,”Cuarón tells Variety that he thinks the Academy should take things even further. “Let’s stop calling them technical categories!” he told Variety on Sunday night [...]

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CA - February 16

    San Francisco Symphony Ushers in Chinese New Year With Glitzy Gala

    As legend has it: among the Chinese Zodiac’s 12 animals, the pig comes last because it was the final one to arrive to a party thrown by the Jade Emperor — lazy sauntering being a characteristic trait of the animal. The folktale was perhaps less fitting this past Saturday evening, as the San Francisco Symphony [...]

  • Marianne Rendon, Matt Smith, Ondi Timoner

    Robert Mapplethorpe Biopic Team Talks 'Fast and Furious' Filming

    Thursday night’s New York premiere of the Matt Smith-led biopic “Mapplethorpe” took place at Cinépolis Chelsea, just steps from the Chelsea Hotel where the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe once lived — but director Ondi Timoner had no sense of that legacy when she first encountered him in a very different context. “When I was ten [...]

  • Producer Mel Jones poses at the

    'Dear White People' Producer Talks Hollywood's 'Black Tax'

    “Dear White People” and “Leimert Park” executive producer Mel Jones is extremely familiar with growing up and watching “white men in all types of roles and never [seeing] ourselves as a part of those narratives.” Now, there may be some more opportunities for writers of color to tell their own stories, but, she notes, there [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content