Charles Boyer, the internationally known film and stage actor whose magnetic eyes, resonant voice and Gallic accent helped win him fame as one of the screen's great lovers, died Saturday in Phoenix.
Despite Mr. Boyer's obvious charm and his acknowledged histrionic gifts, it probably was a line he never uttered on film that made Mr. Boyer's name one of America's household words during one of Hollywood's brightest periods.
The year was 1938. The movie was "Algiers," in which Mr. Boyer was cast as the romantic French super-criminal, Pepe le Moko.
In the film, Mr. Boyer flashed his patented "some hither" glance at Heddy Lamarr. And if millions of moviegoers did not hear him invite her in his irresistably husky voice to "Come wiz me to the Casbah," it did not matter.
Because they believed they did. Although Mr. Boyer insisted that the words were invented by studio press agents and never spoken in the movie, they instantly became part of American film folklore.
"Algiers" confirmed Mr. Boyer's standing as a major matinee idol, the epitome of the Continental gallant. Suave and sophisticated as a lover, convincing also as a man of action, in 1945 he was the highest salaried star at the Warner Bros. studio.
He appeared in such films as "Private Worlds," "Shanghai," "The Garden of Allah," "Mayerling," "Conquest", "History Is Made at Night," "Tovarich," "Love Affair," "All This and Heaven Too," "Back Street," "When Tomorrow Comes," "Hold Back the Dawn," "Flesh and Fantasy" and "Gaslight."
Although for many Americans he came to symbolize only what was considered to be the French flair for romance, Mr. Boyer was in fact an erudite, accomplished actor of great range and versatility. Before winning acclaim in Hollywood, he had spent years learning his craft.
He was born in 1899 in Figeac in southwestern France, the son of a well-to-do dealer in farm implements.
Although stagestruck throughout his youth, he earned a degree in philosophy at the Sorbonne before entering the Paris Conservatoire du Dr me.
For 10 years, Parisian stage audiences were charmed and beguiled by the warm, intriguing, intimate voice that later was to prove so seductive to millions who saw him on film.
A quick success in the French cinema, he soon was on his way to Hollywood where, poorly cast at first, he suffered failure in his early efforts.
Study with tutors finally enabled him to speak an on-screen brand of English that was both charming and comprehensible and, in 1935, he scored the first of his big Hollywood hits with "Private Worlds."