Jean Pierre Carl Buron (12 July 1886 – 2 June 1956), known professionally as Jean Hersholt, was a Danish-American actor. He is best known for starring on the radio series Dr. Christian (1937–1954) and in the film Heidi (1937).
Asked how to pronounce his name, he told The Literary Digest, "In English, her'sholt; in Danish, hairs'hult." Of his total credits, 75 were silent films and 65 were sound films (140 total); he directed four.
Jean Pierre Carl Buron
12 July 1886
|Died||2 June 1956 (aged 69)|
Hollywood, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park|
|Other names||Jean Pierre Hersholt |
Jean Buron Hersholt
Via Hersholt (m. 1914)
Hersholt was born Jean Pierre Carl Buron in Copenhagen, Denmark. Hersholt claimed to be born into a family of actors, but in reality both of his parents Henri Pierre Buron and Clara nee Petersen were hairdressers.  He appeared in two of the first short films of Danish film studio Nordisk Film in 1906, but didn't find much success in his early years in Denmark. He was embroiled in a scandal surrounding the so-called "big sexual offence trial" in Copenhagen 1906/07 as an informant for the tabloid newspaper Middagsposten. The ensuing moral panic and outing of several prominent men as homosexuals eventually involved Hersholt (then Buron) who was reported to the police. He admitted to prostitution and sentenced to 8 months in prison. He emigrated to the United States in 1913, and the remainder of his career was in America.
Hersholt's best-remembered film roles include Marcus Schouler in Erich von Stroheim's 1924 Greed and Shirley Temple's beloved grandfather in the 1937 film version of the 1880 children's book, Heidi, written by Swiss author Johanna Spyri. During his long career in the movies, his roles ran the gamut from early silent villains to secondary parts in which his mild Danish accent and pleasant voice suited him to depict a succession of benevolent fathers, doctors, professors, and European noblemen. Hersholt's last role was in the 1955 movie Run for Cover.
In The Country Doctor (1936), a movie starring the Dionne quintuplets, Hersholt portrayed Dr. John Luke, a character based on Dr. Allan Roy Dafoe, the Canadian obstetrician who delivered and cared for the Dionne quintuplets. Two sequels followed. Hersholt wanted to do the role on radio, but could not get the rights. He decided to create his own doctor character for radio, and since he was a Hans Christian Andersen enthusiast, he borrowed that name for his character of the philosophical Dr. Paul Christian who practiced in the Midwest town of River's End with the assistance of Nurse Judy Price. With the opening theme music of "Rainbow on the River", Dr. Christian was introduced on CBS on 7 November 1937 on The Vaseline Program, or Dr. Christian's Office and later Dr. Christian.
The small-town physician's good humor, innate common sense, and scientific training helped drive off a series of villainous types who tried to interfere with the peaceful lifestyle of River's End. Produced by Dorothy McCann, the radio series became a popular long-running hit, continuing on CBS until 6 January 1954, with Hersholt so strongly identified with the role that he received mail asking for medical advice. Various spin-offs were produced, as Hersholt co-wrote a Dr. Christian novel and made a series of six family films as Christian from 1939 to 1941, for instance Dr. Christian Meets the Women in 1940. In 1956, his Dr. Christian character made the transition to television, scripted by Gene Roddenberry, with Macdonald Carey as his nephew Dr. Mark Christian. From the '30s through the '50s, Neil Reagan, brother of Ronald Reagan, directed the radio series Dr. Christian, starring Jean Hersholt.
In 1939, Hersholt helped form the Motion Picture Relief Fund to support industry employees with medical care when they were down on their luck. The fund was used to create the Motion Picture Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California, and it led to the creation in 1956 of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, an honorary Academy Award given to an "individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry".
Hersholt's large collection of Hans Christian Andersen books is now in the Library of Congress. He translated over 160 of Andersen's fairy tales into the English language. These were published in 1949 in six volumes as The Complete Andersen, this work is "... rated as the standard translation, being one of the best" in English. Hersholt was appointed a knight of the Order of the Dannebrog in 1948, partly due to this endeavour.
Hersholt married Via Andersen (1893–1983), on 11 April 1914. They had two sons: Allan Hersholt (1914–1990) and Jean Hersholt Jr.
Hersholt died of cancer in Hollywood, and is interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. His grave is marked with a statue of Klods-Hans (English: Clumsy Hans), a Hans Christian Andersen character who left home to find his way in the world — much as Hersholt himself had done.
Hersholt was honored for his services to the industry twice with an honorary Academy Award, first in 1940 and the second time in 1950, and in his honor the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award was named by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6501 Hollywood Boulevard for his work in motion pictures and another one at 6701 Hollywood Boulevard for his work in radio.
|1943||Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre||Men in White|
I did learn very early that when I would mention my uncle, people would look at me as if I were the biggest liar in the world. Then I would take them home and show them 8-by-10 glossies, and things changed quite drastically. So I began to think that maybe this acting business was not a bad idea, much as I was very shy about it and certainly without courage regarding it. My uncle died not too long after I was in a position to know him. I regret that I had not a chance to know him better.
|Non-profit organization positions|
| President of Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences
The 92nd Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), will honor the best films of 2019 and will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. After more than a decade of previously holding the Academy Award ceremonies in at least late-February, the 92nd Academy Awards will be held earlier on February 9, 2020. During the ceremony, AMPAS will present Academy Awards (commonly referred to as Oscars) in 24 categories. The ceremony will be televised in the United States by ABC.Edmond L. DePatie
Edmond L. DePatie (27 January 1900 – 6 August 1966) was an American film industry executive. He was vice president and general manager of Warner Bros. Burbank studio, and on April 18, 1966 at the 38th Academy Awards, DePatie was honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, just four months before his death.
He succeeded Jean Hersholt as president of the Motion Picture Relief Fund in 1955, later launching a campaign for the establishment of a Motion Picture Exposition and Hall of Fame to honor filmmaking and to bring in revenue for the Motion Picture & Television Fund Country House. These plans were not successful, and despite the efforts of many over the years, a Hollywood Museum that benefits the Country House has not become a reality.He died of a heart attack while vacationing in Chowchilla, California on 6 August 1966, aged 66.Governors Awards
The Governors Awards presentation is an annual award ceremony hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), at the Grand Ballroom of the Hollywood and Highland Center, in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles, California. Three awards that signify lifetime achievement within the film industry – the Academy Honorary Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, and the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award – are presented at this ceremony. The first Governors Awards ceremony was held on November 14, 2009. Prior to this, these three awards were formally presented during the main Academy Awards ceremony, which now conducts a short mention and appearance of the awards recipients after displaying a montage of the Governors Awards presentation. In the years since, the awards have gained prominence as a major red-carpet destination and industry event.Hearts of Humanity (1932 film)
Hearts of Humanity is a 1932 American drama film, directed by Christy Cabanne. It stars Jean Hersholt, Jackie Searl, and J. Farrell MacDonald, and was released on September 1, 1932.Hell Harbor
Hell Harbor is a 1930 American pre-Code drama film directed by Henry King and written by Fred de Gresac, Clarke Silvernail and Brewster Morse. The film stars Lupe Vélez, Jean Hersholt, John Holland, Gibson Gowland, Harry Allen and Al St. John. The film was released on March 15, 1930, by United Artists.Howard W. Koch
Howard Winchel Koch (April 11, 1916 – February 16, 2001) was an American producer and director of film and television.Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award
The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award is awarded periodically by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) at the Governors Awards ceremonies for an individual's "outstanding contributions to humanitarian causes". Prior to 2009, this award was presented during the main Oscars ceremony. The award category was instituted in 1956 and first awarded at the 29th Academy Awards, in March 1957. Unlike the Academy Award of Merit, the nomination and voting for this award are restricted to members of the Board of Governors of AMPAS.Little Red Decides
Little Red Decides is a 1918 American silent drama film directed by Jack Conway and starring Frederick Vroom, Jean Hersholt and Alice Davenport.Martha Raye
Martha Raye (August 27, 1916 – October 19, 1994) was an American comic actress and singer who performed in movies, and later on television. She also acted in plays, including Broadway.
She was honored in 1969 at the Academy Awards as the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient for her volunteer efforts and services to the troops.Remedy for Riches
Remedy for Riches is a 1940 American film directed by Erle C. Kenton and featuring Jean Hersholt. It is the fourth of the six films of the Dr. Christian series.Robert Benjamin
Robert Saul Benjamin (1909-1979). Robert Benjamin was a founding partner of the movie-litigation firm Phillips, Nizer, Benjamin, Krim & Ballon.Roger Mayer (executive)
Roger Laurance Mayer (April 21, 1926 – March 24, 2015) was an American film industry executive. He was best known for his efforts on behalf of film preservation and for his support of the film industry's humanitarian charity, the Motion Picture & Television Fund. In 2004 he was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.Samuel Goldwyn
Samuel Goldwyn (born Szmuel Gelbfisz; Yiddish: שמואל געלבפֿיש; c. July, 1879 – January 31, 1974), also known as Samuel Goldfish, was a Polish-American film producer. He was most well known for being the founding contributor and executive of several motion picture studios in Hollywood. His awards include the 1973 Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1947, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1958.Sol Lesser
Sol Lesser (February 17, 1890 – September 19, 1980) was an American film producer. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960 and was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1961.Steve Broidy
Samuel “Steve” Broidy (June 14, 1905 – April 28, 1991) was an American executive in the U.S. motion picture industry.The Battle of the Sexes (1928 film)
For Griffith's earlier version, see The Battle of the Sexes (1914 film).The Battle of the Sexes is a 1928 American comedy film directed by D. W. Griffith, starring Jean Hersholt, Phyllis Haver, Belle Bennett, Don Alvarado, and Sally O'Neil, and released by United Artists. The film was a remake by Griffith of an earlier film he directed in 1914, which starred Lillian Gish. Both films are based on the novel The Single Standard by Daniel Carson Goodman; the story was adapted for this production by Gerrit J. Lloyd.The film was released as both a silent film, and in a sound version using the Movietone sound-on-film system. In 2004, the film was released on DVD by Image Entertainment. The theme song of the motion picture, "Just a Sweetheart", by Dave Dryer, Josef Pasternack, and Nathaniel Shilkret (recorded versions of which are available, for example, on a commercially issued Paul Whiteman CD) was omitted from the DVD.The Country Doctor (1936 film)
The Country Doctor is a 1936 American drama film directed by Henry King and written by Sonya Levien. The film stars Jean Hersholt, June Lang, Slim Summerville, Michael Whalen, Dorothy Peterson and Robert Barrat. The film was released on March 12, 1936, by 20th Century Fox.The Crime of the Century (1933 film)
The Crime of the Century is a 1933 American Pre-Code thriller film directed by William Beaudine and featuring a star-studded cast including Jean Hersholt, Wynne Gibson, Stuart Erwin, Frances Dee, and David Landau.Y. Frank Freeman
Young Frank Freeman (14 December 1890 – 6 February 1969) was an American film company executive for Paramount Pictures. Freeman was born in Greenville, Georgia, and graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1910. In addition to his work with Paramount, he also worked in the fields of banking, higher education, and athletics.He was the first winner of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1957. He was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960. He died in California and was buried at Westview Cemetery in Atlanta.