A large, unattractive, crude-looking character star of French films and plays, he moved to Paris at age sixteen, eventually performing as a clown-acrobat-dancer in music halls. He made his legitimate stage debut in 1918. In the '20s he appeared in a handful of films, but his screen career did not begin in earnest until the sound era; from 1930 he appeared in numerous films, specializing in portrayals of earthy, common people. He remained busy until the '50s, when his career declined. In 1957 he was poisoned by a makeup dye; his central nervous system was partly disabled, and parts of his body and face were paralyzed. After recuperating he returned to the screen in several notable roles, lastly in 1975.