From song to cinema, Bourvil has marked the French public over several generations thanks to his iconic roles, notably in duets with Louis de Funès or Jean Marais. Before enjoying incredible popularity, André Raimbourg (his real name) lived with his family in Normandy during the interwar period. In his youth, he had a pronounced taste for music and joined the brass band of Fontaine-le-Dun where he played several instruments: harmonica, accordion and cornet.
A talented musician who will fall under the spell of a young woman, Jeanne Lefrique, during an evening at a celebratory ball in 1936. Between the son of farmers and the daughter of a foreman at the village sugar factory, he is the thunderbolt. While Bourvil knows glory and success, he always remains faithful to his sweet companion.
In January 1943, André Raimbourg and Jeanne Lefrique married and founded their family. From their union are born their two sons, Dominique (in April 1950) and Philippe (in March 1953). In Le Parisien, his eldest son evoked his memories of his father and his famous friends like Georges Brassens and Jean-Pierre Mocky. “I was a teenager so it didn’t surprise me,” he laughed. “I also remember Mocky, who came to present his films to my father: he had an old Volvo which was dropping oil on the gravel, it annoyed my mother…”.
However, like his friend Louis de Funès, Bourvil was not a man of society life, preferring to be with his wife and children. “Both flee worldliness, intrigue, intellectuals, the powerful, vanities. They love family life, gardening, good food and joyful wines”, wrote the journalist Bertrand Dicale in his book dedicated to the accomplice by Bourvil, published by Grün editions in 2020.
Forming an ideal family, Bourvil and his wife Jeanne settled between Paris and Montainville, where they bought a country house to spend happy days there. When the artist died in 1970 from bone marrow cancer, she continued to watch over their two sons. But, while she was on her way to meditate at her husband’s grave, Jeanne Lefrique died in a terrible road accident in January 1975. Today she rests by his side in the same vault, in the town located in Eure-et-Loir.