Fernand Joseph Désiré Contandin, better known as Fernandel, was a French actor and singer. Born in Marseille, France, he was a comedy star who first gained popularity in French vaudeville, operettas, and music-hall revues. His stage name originated from his marriage to Henriette Manse, the sister of his best friend and frequent cinematic collaborator Jean Manse. So attentive was he to his wife that his mother-in-law amusingly referred to him as Fernand d'elle.
In 1930, Fernandel appeared in his first motion picture and for more than forty years he would be France's top comic actor. He was perhaps best-loved for his portrayal of the irascible Italian village priest at war with the town's Communist mayor in the Don Camillo series of motion pictures. His horse-like teeth became part of his trademark.
He also appeared in Italian and American films. His first Hollywood motion picture was 1956's Around the World in Eighty Days in which he played David Niven's coachman. His popular performance in that film led to his starring with Bob Hope and Anita Ekberg in the 1958 comedy Paris Holiday.
In addition to acting, Fernandel also directed or co-produced several of his own films.