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Jean-Henry Gourgaud

Jean-Henri Gourgaud (November 15, 1746 - 1809), French actor under the stage name Dugazon, was born in Marseille, the son of the director of military hospitals there.

He began his career in the provinces, making his debut in 1770 at the Comédie Française, where he aspired to leading comedy roles. He pleased the public at once and was made sociétaire in 1772. Dugazon was an ardent revolutionist, helped the schism which divided the company, and went with Talma and the others to what became the Théâtre de la République. After the closing of this theatre and the dissolution of the Comédie Française, he took refuge at the Théâtre Feydeau until he returned to the restored Comédie in 1799. He retired in 1805, and died insane at Sandillon.

Dugazon wrote three mediocre comedies of a political character, performed at the Théâtre de la République. He married, in 1776, Louis Rose Lefèvre, but was soon divorced and then married again. The first Madame Dugazon (1755 - 1821), the daughter of a Berlin dancing master, was a charming actress. Her first appearance on the stage was made at the age of twelve as a dancer. It was as an actress "with songs" that she made her debut at the Comédie Italienne in 1774 in Grétry's Sylvain. She was at once admitted pensionnaire and in 1775 sociétaire. Madame Dugazon delighted all Paris, and nightly crowded the Comédie Italienne for more than twenty years. The two kinds of parts with which she was especially identified--young mothers and women past their first youth--are stil called "dugazons" and "mères dugazons." Examples of the first are Jenny in La Dame blanche and Berthe de Simiane in Les Mousquetaires de la reine; of the second, Marguerite in Le Pré aux clercs and the queen in La Part du diable.

Dugazon's sister, Marie Rose Gourgaud (1743 - 1804), was an actress who first played at Stuttgart, where she married Angelo Vestris, brother of Gaétano Vestris, the dancer. Under the protection of the dukes of Choiseul and Duras, she was commanded to make her debut at the Comédie Française in 1768, where she created important parts in a number of tragedies.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.