If you’ve followed my blog for a few years now (or what I post on social media,) you are probably not estranged with the fact that I have, over these recent years, developed a considerable interest for Quebecker actor Paul Dupuis. That interest began when I first saw him co-starring with Margaret Lockwood in the British drama Madness of the Heart (Charles Bennett, 1949). When I discovered that the actor who plays the handsome Frenchman Paul de Vandiere was actually from Quebec (born in Montreal), I immediately wanted to know more about him. How come a Quebecker actor came to star in films with Margaret Lockwood (and other British stars for that matter such as Patricia Roc or Jean Kent)? What was even more interesting about it is that, contrary to some Quebec-born actors like Glenn Ford or Norma Shearer, Paul Dupuis had an acting career in Quebec as well. His success was expanded on the old and the new continent.
He arrived in England during the war as he was a correspondent for CBC and obtained a film role there, after a screen-test organised by one of his friends. Dupuis was not estranged to acting since he had been a member of Les Compagnons de St-Laurent, St-Laurent’s theatre troupe led by Father Émile Legault, during his college year. He also acted in France, but it’s perhaps in his home province that his career had the biggest variety since he, not only played in Quebecker films but also in television shows (he is perhaps best remembered for playing the role of Arthur Buies in Les Belles Histoires des pays d’en haut), hosted tv shows and radio programs, worked as a caricaturist, tried to give his advice to people’s problems in Photo-Journal, etc. In summary, Paul Dupuis was pretty much everywhere in the Quebecer media scene. And, strangely enough, as much as my grandparents and even my father remember him well, today, he is pretty much forgotten. Moreover, I’m thinking that, if I hadn’t seen this film with Margaret Lockwood, maybe I wouldn’t have heard of him, which is kind of sad since he was a very important personality.
So, after watching Madness of the Heart, I started looking for information about him and dug very far on the internet and online archives to find as much as I could. There was never anything very complete about him, and I somehow wanted to offer more than some brides of information here and there to people that might have been curious about his life and career like I was (and still am). So, then came the day when Kristina and Ruth were hosting their O Canada Blogathon (I think it was the first edition, but I am not 100 % sure). I saw the opportunity to share what I had found about this French-Canadian actor. I, overall, wanted to make his name a bit better known than it had been since the last few decades. So, from this resulted in an article entitled Discovering Paul Dupuis where I basically wrote a mini-bio of him (well, mini if you compare it to an actual book!) and was happy to increase the knowledge of the people who would read it! That is, by far, one of the articles I am the proudest of because I am aware of the considerable amount of research and time I took for it to become something complete enough. And, remember, this was just for a blog article, so I say “props!” to those who wrote a whole book! Now when someone tells me he or she has spent over five years just for the researches, well, I am not at all surprised because I know the article I wrote, which is only around 20000 words was the result of months of researches.
I was happy with the feedback I got for the article and the interest people showed for it, but did I stop everything there? Did I put Paul Dupuis aside to put the light on another obscure celebrity? Not at all! As a matter of fact, my motivation to discover more about Paul Dupuis has never stopped.
And today, August 11, 2020, marks what would have been Dupuis’s 107th birthday. So, I believe it is a perfect occasion for me to share with you what has happened between the time I published the article for the O Canada Blogathon (so, in 2017) and now.
First of all, there’s been a lot of questionings. “What should I do with that research?” is the main one. I think it’s wonderful when someone concentrates his or her time on finding stuff about a celebrity. It doesn’t necessarily have to be your #1 favourite actor, just someone you are curious to know more about. I think you just have to find your subject and the result might be unexpected and quite enriching. Sure, I want to read and know as much as possible about Ingrid Bergman, for example, but she’s not an obscure star, and a lot has always been written about her, and she herself wrote a detailed autobiography. So, what I might tell you about her might not necessarily surprise you, especially since she has numerous fans. However, someone like Paul Dupuis is the perfect subject for new knowledge. So, I decided to make him my research subject. As I’ve said, I’m still not sure what I will do with all that (I won’t lie to you that a book is an appealing idea but I know it’s not something you start without thinking). But, anyway, just the fact that I gain more and more knowledge about him is super gratifying and if I could just be labelled as a “Paul Dupuis expert” that would be quite amazing!
I was also encouraged to pursue my researches about him when I discovered that my article had not been lost in the abyss of the blogosphere. I mean, most of the time, when someone publishes an article on a blog, it mostly gets likes and comments when it is shared and in the week that follows. Then, people move to something else, a more recently-published article. So, it always comes as a surprised (a good one!) when someone comments on an article you have published over a year ago (and I don’t mean those spammers who want to redesign your blog or tell you more about the pros and cons of viagra (!)). That is pretty much what happened to me when an article about Paul Dupuis entitled L’énigmatique Paul Dupuis was published on the website bazoom.ca. The author linked my article to his. Now, for some odd reason, I am not able to access the website anymore (??), so I am not able to link the article here. But, basically, it was sort of a bio like I had written with some different details of course. Anyway, I felt great about the fact that someone had used my article for his own research. To me, it put more value to it.
All along the way, there have been more good surprises concerning the article and what people made of it. For example, I received those two very kind comments not so long ago from people telling me that they had learned a lot from my article and that I should use my knowledge to update the Wikipedia page about Paul Dupuis. I agree with them that it seriously lacks information. The French page is a bit more complete than the English one but still not detailed enough. I was obviously overwhelmed with these comments as I knew it meant my material was worth something. I know that there’s this belief that anybody can add anything on Wikipedia, but there’s still a process for it and rules to respect. So, it’s not yet a project I have engaged myself with. But if, one day I decide to offer more to people for, let’s say, quick research, it would definitely be something interesting to consider (but please, don’t use Wikipedia as a source for your schoolwork!).
Concerning Wikipedia, not a long time ago, I discovered something even more amazing: that my article had been used for the English page and was listed among the sources! I know it’s just Wikipedia, but I won’t lie; it does boost one’s ego. Honestly, it was used for a rather minor information that could have been found elsewhere easily, but just the fact that I was used a source, once again, increased the value of my work.
Ok, I have to stop bragging now!
I earlier mentioned that I had decided not to stop my researches. And, indeed, I have not, and there’s a magical door that opened itself to much more than I had discovered before writing the article in 2017. As much as I had dug into as many sources as possible, I decided to start a more complete bibliography with all the sources I could find. First of all, I went back on Lantern and, even if I had used this source for my 2017 article, I was not sure I had saved everything. Therefore, I made sure to add all I could find about Paul Dupuis in this online archive in my bibliography (after all, maybe new material had been added since 2017).
However, the fun REALLY started when I discovered The National Library of Quebec’s online archives. I had found some stuff on it when I wrote the article in 2017 but, honestly, I don’t think I had done my researches properly, as I hadn’t come across half of what I have in my possession now. These online archives are quite a goldmine since they regroup Quebecker material and this is perhaps where Paul Dupuis’s figure was the most present, more than in France and England I would believe. The library has included tons of old newspapers in its online archives and believe me; there’s so much stuff that I’m not even sure when I will see the end of it. To give you an idea, I’ve started with the year 1952 and I’m not done with it yet and already have a list of over 50 articles (maybe over 100 but I’m a bit lazy to count lol). I have recently developed a quicker way to find the articles (the library’s tools are not ideal for that, unfortunately). So, hopefully, I will go through them more quickly than I would have thought. But this is, once again, the proof that researches about someone that interests you can last forever. I will be honest with you, right now, I’m mostly adding the articles to my bibliography (all written in Chicago style- thank you) and the more attentive reading will be for later.
Some of the articles I come across might not seem super pertinent at first, but they allow me to decode some of Paul’s personality traits. You have to read through the lines. For example, it’s by starting the research in this online bank that I discovered this column in Photo-Journal in which Paul Dupuis answer people’s problems (mostly women). That allows us to understand some of his opinions about some topics, especially since the man was not afraid to say what he thought. Sometimes, he could be a bit harsh in his franchise but, sometimes, it was a necessary franchise (I loved that time where he told a woman that she should definitely divorce her husband because he basically was an ass. Surprising since divorces were not as common at the time as they are now, especially since Quebec was then overruled by the catholic church).
I also learned a bit more about his stage career by going through these articles. It was, undeniably, an important part of Paul Dupuis’s professional career.
Of course, one of the main reasons why it takes time to go through all that is mostly that I’m doing that in my free time. I discovered the library’s online archives when I was still in Stockholm and, obviously, my time was also busy with classes and writing my thesis. Now I am tempted to subscribe on newspaper.com for more newspaper archives, but it’s not free, and I would prefer going through the BANQ’s archives first. One step at the time!
By going through more online stuff, I also came across this mini-documentary on YouTube about the famous TV series Les Belles Histoires des pays-d’en-haut. Several actors from the series talk about their experience including a white-beared Paul Dupuis. He played the role of Arthur Buies as I have mentioned earlier, which was a real-life Quebec journalist. He tells some amazing anecdote about him, and the guy (Paul) had just the most amazing speaking voice ever. I mean, I had noticed it in films but, in this video, it’s even more obvious. Paul had a deep voice and, because he was more of the old generation of media people, had more of an international French accent, but you could feel in his tone some intonation of pure Quebecker accent which made the whole thing even more fascinating. Anyway, it’s really not surprising that he also had a prolific radio career with a beautiful voice like that.
It’s in French but you can listen to the beginning just to hear Paul’s voice! 🙂
There’s, unfortunately, not a lot of physical material about Paul Dupuis available (no books anyway), so another objective of mine was (and still is) to find and buy as many archival materials as I can, and eBay has been a great help for that. In the 2017 article, I showed you this autograph (!) and this old magazine entitled Le Film Complet with Paul Dupuis on the cover. Since then, I have obtained four more magazines, an article cut from a newspaper, a photo and three “postal cards”. I’m always looking for more material on and, sometimes, there is new stuff! But it remains a rarety. All this has been put in a binder named Paul Dupuis Archives, and I’m starting to build a nice collection.
And of course, I have watched more of his films. So far, the list of seen films is of six… because they are really not easy to find. However, I have recently found more of them online, and there’s even someone who added episodes of Les Belles Histoires on YouTube! So, I have definitely more material at my disposition now.
Now the next step would be to explore physical archives and hoping that I could find more stuff in a place like the Cinémathèque Québécoise, for example. I also hope some of Paul Dupuis’s contemporary are still available for potential discussion, but that is definitely another step!
I am not sure what was the utility of sharing all that with you but, since it’s Paul Dupuis’s birthday, I wanted to publish a little something here, and I am myself always interested in what others are doing with their researches. Therefore, I thought it would be pertinent to share that with you, hoping it can somehow serve as guidance if you have yourself some interest in knowing more about some celebrity! My main advice would be: try to look at as many places as you can, even those where you would not suspect to find material.
But it overall felt good to exteriorise all my fascination for Paul Dupuis in this article! Hopefully, these researches will one day turn themselves into something more concrete!
I’ll see you later and happy heavenly birthday Paul Dupuis!