Pierre Jalbert-One Day in July by Donna Patterson-Goad
Southern California, home of surfing, sun, movie stars,
and some great restaurants, is also the home of the
talented actor Pierre Jalbert and his lovely wife, Joy.
Pierre the ever-dashing young French Canadian played
Caje on the hit ABC television series "Combat", which
ran from 1962-1967. Recently he shared his memories of
working in Hollywood, getting started in the business
and of course "Combat."
In the beginning there was skiing, the Olympics and a
dream. Pierre went from Junior skier to Senior skier
to National Champion of Canada. From there it was on
to the Olympics games in 1948 as Captain of the Ski
Team. Fate can deal a devils own hand, two days before
the games Pierre broke his leg.
Where skiing is a love of his heart, the film world
called but was put on hold just a little longer.
Pierre worked as a ski instructor in Sun Valley where
he made some good contacts in the film industry.
Teaching skiing was fine but Pierre wanted more out of
life. He had worked with the National Film Board of
Canada doing small ski films as a tech. In 1951 he
landed in LA where he worked pumping gas, waiting
tables - anything to make a dollar.
"The great beauty of this country is no one judges.
You can become what you want to become. You can't do
that in Europe." When he came to LA, Pierre found out
that Hollywood has its own Catch-22. You have to have
a job to be part of the union but to get the job you
have to part of the union. He did get an interview
with a Mr. X at Universal. Now everything takes time
in Hollywood so he went back to Sun Valley for one
more year. Universal did call him and he returned to
Hollywood. Pierre got the chance to work on Superman
(the television program.) "I really learned film
In 1957 he met Joy (who later became his wife) as a
friend of a friend. "I was invited out to dinner and
invited them over for drinks. Joy came along and I
ended up driving Joy home." Such a magical way of
meeting your life mate, coming to her rescue after her
ride got bombed.
During the time he spent at MGM, he had a chance to go
Aspen for ten days vacation. Pierre was still well
known among the ski instructors and the chief
instructor approached him about teaching. Teaching is
not something he really wanted to do but his friend
talked him into teaching young hot shots. Dick
Durance who was in the film business was there working
on two documentaries about skiing. He asked Pierre if
he would like to come and work with him.
Some good advice from Pierre is to "never burn your
bridges." This comes in handy when approaching your
supervising editor and wanting a lot of time off.
Pierre was very to have an understanding boss. During
all this time between work and skiing, he found time
to ask Joy to marry him. They lived in a small
apartment in Hollywood after the wedding.
(PJ part 2)
Pierre was working on Mutiny on the Bounty" at MGM
when Joy, who was driving a Porsche, got hit by a little
old lady wearing coke bottle bottom glasses. "Watch
fate how it plays in ones life." Joy, who was an
actress at one time, decided to sue the lady for lost
wages. To be an "actress" you have to have an agent,
so Pierre called Roy Marcher at 12 noon. Now most
agents are not in their office at noon, they're out
there getting jobs for clients. In this case Roy
answered the phone and was invited over for dinner and
drinks. He took Joy as his client. Roy asked Pierre
if he wanted to be an actor. OK, so he was 36 years
old but had a great face and great body (there are some
perks to skiing.) Two days later, he was working in the
cutting room when Roy called and asked him if he
wanted to do a series. Roy said the part is you! So
Pierre borrowed a car from a friend, the chief of
production of MGM (his Boss.) "I met the people,
told them look, I don't have much time. Don't worry
we'll give you a test, a studio test. There were 50
guys there for the test. I never thought I'd get the
part." Roy called, "You got the part."
At this point, it was time for a talk with the wife.
Pierre told Joy that he got the part but that he had
eight years at MGM. The pilot for "Combat" was made
at MGM. After getting the part of Caje, Pierre went
back to MGM and the managing editor. He asked for a
few days off to shoot the pilot. The man was great,
he gave Pierre ten days off because they really liked
his work, he was a valued employee. Pierre went to do
the pilot and stayed 5 1/2 years.
Pierre and Joy share their home with Terry the parrot,
a double yellow Mexican bird who likes women's voices.
His hobby is his home; he is always remodeling it.
Pierre is an avid reader who enjoys all types of books
but most of all loves historical material. "History - the
human man has not changed, just the costume." We could learn
from history but rarely do.
There are people who speak their mind when asked about
their philosophy of life and if one has the wisdom to
listen and learn, the world can truly open for them.
Pierre follows the golden rule as given to him by his
father. "The great secret of life is learn to accept.
The world owes you nothing, you do it, you turn the
When asked about his part as Caje, his voice warms to
rich full-bodied tones, "There is no money that could
buy those years. I can't work as an actor, I miss it."
After "Combat, Pierre went on to a few guest shots, a
few pilots and small independent movies. Pierre is
a very practical man and didn't have to have the
expensive home and cars that sometime go hand-in-hand
(PJ part 3)
On film, Caje is a very efficient killer. He kills
Krauts with swift, silent efficiency. In reality,
Pierre is a good actor who wouldn't kill an ant. "I
have a great respect for life." This respect for life
must run in the family. Pierre's brother won the
Canadian Congressional Medal of Honor for saving the
lives of a hundred children by disarming a terrorist
who had broken into the Canadian cabinet ministers
office and killed four people. It took him 4 1/2
hours to disarm the man and he did it by using total
Once "Combat" was over, Pierre told Joy he would give his
acting career three years to see if he would make it.
In 1970 he went into Hollywood to sign some papers; he
never hung around the studios like some actors. But
that day, he went to Goldwyn for lunch with a friend.
He was walking out of the gate when Tom Rolf, an editor
friend, stopped him. He was working on a film and
wondered if Pierre was interested in working. He went
by a different route home and at the corner of Sunset
& Doheny, he saw Peter Zinner, a film editor, another
old friend from MGM. After saying hello to Zinner, who
was working on a film, The Godfather, Zinner asked him
if he was interested in working. Pierre had found out
that Brando is real pussycat to work with. Pierre
went on to work in Europe working on Bloodline. He
specializes in working with dialogue editing. He has
spent time at Disney and then back to Canada. Pierre
was nominated for a Canadian Academy Award (which he
didn't win). He has even had the chance to work in
Yugoslavia as a teacher and supervising editor of
film. It was an interesting experience.
The interview was closing and still there were
questions to be asked about fans and about the one
special cast member who has touched all the members
"I find it interesting that what we have done 30 years
ago still interests people. I can watch the shows and
think I don't remember doing that. I'm pleased that
they remember what we've done."
Vic Morrow, the man, his actions, his life are all part
of the history of "Combat." In 1962 they were shooting
the pilot, Pierre and Vic were having lunch when Vic
asked, "You're not an actor are you Pierre?" "Vic taught me
the craft of acting." Vic was great at
directing, he loved the industry. "Not really" in
answer to Vic's question, "I'm an editor, I know the
mechanics of film making!" "Why don't we exchange
knowledge?" said Vic.
If Pierre could only say one thing to the fans it
would be, "Thanks for the appreciation. If they're
fans for a reason then what we were doing was for
To an extraordinary actor who has given us so much,
"Merci pour les mémoires."
This ends the story about Pierre, which I hope you
have enjoyed reading.
I've included a small story I wrote about doing the
interview and with luck you can be in my place with
this warm, caring, very sexy guy. So here goes:
Lunch with a Legend
Westwood, Ca, the home of UCLA, students, part of
Hollywood and some wonderful shops. Tourists mill
about on the streets hoping to get glimpses of a
famous star. Was that Michael Jordan in that car that
just drove by, did we really see Madonna or someone
who looked like her? Lovely vine covered restaurants
sit placidly on the corners awaiting eager diners.
Pierre Jalbert was sitting at the bar sipping a drink
and reading his newspaper as he awaited to have lunch
with a lady he didn't know but had spoken to several
times on the phone. Pierre, is a dignified,
silver-haired gentleman whose clear blue eyes hold a
unique spark of life all their own.
Once the introductions were made, drinks ordered, a
quiet room was found where the noise of the bar would
not intrude, the interview started.
The conversation ranged from memories of Vic Morrow to
Gary Conway's book Art of the Vineyard. Pierre looked
at the book, admiring the beautiful paintings, then he
had a chance to look at the book TV Toys and the Shows
That Inspired Them written by Cynthia Boris Lilejalad. He
read the section which covered his character, Caje.
Listening to him read, once more the character of Caje
came alive. This was a treat, for according to Rick
Jason I am a "dyed in the wool Combat fan."
All too soon lunch was over, the room had filled with
other guests but they had gone unnoticed. Reality
came to the quiet restaurant with all the noise of
dishes being stacked, people talking, and the Olympic
news from the TV in the bar. The waiter was
excellent, not interrupting during the meal. The food
wasn't all that great but boy the company was!
Once outside the restaurant, a few pictures were taken
of Pierre and farewells said. A simple kiss on each
cheek from Pierre will be long remembered.
The parking valet asked if the pictures had anything
to do with television. Little did he know that the
star and legend had just left a very happy fan. One
who would carry with her the memories of meeting yet
another of Hollywoods' "giants."