Monday, January 30, 2017

Born Today January 30: (François) Félix Faure (Slightly Sorted Edition!)


France's future president Faure was born Félix François on this date in Paris.  He was the son of a furniture maker. He worked as a tanner and later as a merchant at France's second largest port in Le Havre (where he was also initiated into Freemasonry); managing to acquire a significant amount wealth along the way.  He entered politics, and in August of 1881 he was elected to the National Assembly.  From this seat, he worked his way up the political ranks, until reaching the office of President in 1895.  He would remain President until his untimely death in 1899. For the purposes of silent film, Faure was the subject of numerous short documentaries (or early newsreels) detailing some his presidential activities starting in 1896--most of them were produced by Lumiere. The first was Fêtes franco-russes: Cherbourg, Entrée des Souverains russes et du président de la Republique sous le hall (with a title like that, who needs to watch the 1 minute film??).  The last film featuring his appearance as President of France came posthumously in a German reel entitled Leichenbergräbnis des verstorbenen französischen Präsidenten Félix Faure, and was released in April 1899 following his death in February of the same year.  Faure died under a cloud of scandal on the 16th of February while engaging in some type of sexual activity with his 30 year old mistress, Marguerite Steinhall; he is reported to have had a "bout of apoplexy" which caused his death several hours later--his was 58 years old.  Famed French trickster filmmaker Meliese was reported to have filmed his funeral, but it doesn't seem to have survived.  During his presidency the infamous and shameful Dreyfus Affair came to a head; it remains a stain on his reputation to this day. Faure is buried (like so many other famous Frenchmen) in the huge Parisian burial ground of Pére Lachaise Cemetery in very melodramatic sculpted tomb.

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