Popular figure of the boulevard theater, Marthe Mercadier, who died Wednesday, September 15 in Puteaux, at the age of 92, was immersed from an early age in the world of entertainment. His paternal grandfather, Victor Mercadier, is administrator of Sacem. Friend of Mistinguett, Joséphine Baker and Maurice Chevalier, he takes him behind the scenes of theaters.
The joyful childhood of Marthe Mercadier, born October 23, 1928, in Saint-Ouen (Seine-Saint-Denis), however, was overshadowed by a series of trials. At the age of 6, she wakes up one morning without being able to speak. His silence will last a year and will cease without explanation. In June 1936, while participating in a human pyramid, she fell hard and remained immobilized for eighteen months. Then the war arrives and brings her out of childhood for good. This period during which she sends letters for the Resistance ” [lui] made the character for the rest of [ses] days “, she will say later.
Don to make people laugh
On May 8, 1945, she performed for the first time on stage, during the end-of-year gala of Maurice Escande’s drama course and then discovered her gift to make the audience laugh: “I based my life on laughter, on that extraordinary magic when you hear a thousand people laughing at the same second. “ His vocation is found. To improve, she enrolled in the Simon course, where she met Michel Bouquet, Robert Hirsch and Michel Piccoli.
At the end of the 1940s, she had her first successes on the boards in The kings’ cake (Roger Ferdinand), then in The Gift of Adele (Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy). In 1952, she married her partner Gérard Néry, with whom she remained married for twenty years and had a daughter, Véronique. She triumphs on stage with Black sweetheart (François Campaux), which is played from 1958 to 1961. The plays are linked, and she acquires the reputation of queen of the boulevard, “An entertainment theater, a satire of society, which does not take itself seriously and which requires enormous rigor”, she said.
Frank and energetic, Marthe Mercadier is a woman of conviction
“In the theater, we do our job. In the cinema, we depend on the profession of others ”, she writes in I will be jubilant until 100 years old! (Flammarion, 2011). Adding: “The theatrics, this is my family at heart. ” This does not prevent him from turning to the cinema. She plays in The Capiston’s Stamp (Maurice Labro, 1950) and followed around thirty films in the following years, always specifying in her contracts that she would not play stripped scenes. Marthe Mercadier is also becoming a familiar face to viewers. Alongside Micheline Presle and Daniel Gélin, she plays Fanny in the cult series of the 1960s The holy darlings, directed by Jean Becker. She also triumphs in the famous televised rendezvous “At the theater tonight”, with plays such asForbidden to the public (Roger Dornès and Jean Marsan, 1966) or, in 1977, The Little Birds (Eugène Labiche).
Frank and energetic, Marthe Mercadier is a woman of conviction. Socialist, she actively supported François Mitterrand in 1981. In September of that same year, she was appointed representative to Yvette Roudy, Minister for Women’s Rights. After the drafting of a White Paper on the place of women in the audiovisual sector, which had no effect, she resigned. Her commitment also continues in humanitarian work as president of the IFPPF association, which ships medical equipment most used by French hospitals to hundreds of dispensaries around the world. But the association will be involved in the Carrefour du développement scandal, a case of embezzlement of funds for cooperation and humanitarian aid.
Marthe Mercadier is also involved in production. She thus co-produces Sacred Leonardo (by Michel Serrault and Jean Poiret) at the theater (1964-1965) and produced What about tenderness? … God damn it! (by Patrick Schulmann) at the cinema (1979). From 1970 to 1971, she was in charge of the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier in Paris, but the experience ended in a financial rout.
At the end of her life, she recognizes: “I have made a lot of money in my life. But it would have burned my hands if I had not passed it on to those who need it. It is by having learned to manage the small and even the great misfortunes of existence that I have been able to make my life a great happiness. ” Over-indebted, in 2014 she launched an appeal for help, because she risked eviction from her home. A few weeks later, Marthe Mercadier’s daughter reveals that her mother suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. She who dreamed of being at the theater every night until the end of her days is forced to stop her activities.
Marthe Mercadier in a few dates
October 23, 1928 Born in Saint-Ouen (Seine-Saint-Denis)
1958-1961 “Black darling” (theater)
1965-1971 “Les Saintes chéries” (television)
1979 Product “What about tenderness? … Damn it!” “
nineteen eighty one Policy Officer at the Ministry of Women’s Rights
September 15, 2021 Death in Puteaux (Hauts-de-Seine)