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Born in Toulon in the Var département, he made his stage debut there in 1899. After coming to the attention of the then great music hall star Félix Mayol who was also from Toulon, in 1908 he was given a chance to work as a secondary act in the Paris theater scene. Primarily a comedian, in 1916 writer/director Sacha Guitry gave him significant parts in productions at the Folies Bergère and other major venues. In addition to his appearances on stage, Raimu also developed a successful career in films sometimes under the name Jules Raimu.
He starred in the premiere of Messager's operetta Coups de roulis in 1928. In 1929, already a leading actor, he gained wide acclaim for his starring role in the stage production of the Marcel Pagnol play Marius. He was reluctant because of his disappointment over his first film role many years before; he agreed to act in Guitry's film Le Blanc et le Noir and then reprised his Marius role on film a year later. By his late forties, Raimu had become one of his country's most respected actors and was considered the ultimate actor by luminaries such as Alec Guinness, Marlene Dietrich, and Orson Welles.
He married Esther Metayer (1905-1977) in 1936, twenty-two years younger than him. He had a daughter Paulette Brun (1925-1992).
Raimu died of a heart attack during his sleep in the American Hospital of Paris, brought on by complications with anesthesia after a relatively minor leg operation.
On his passing in 1946 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, he was interred in the cemetery of his birthplace in Toulon where there is the Cinéma Raimu Toulon named in his honor.
In 1961, the government of France honored him with his image on a postage stamp. A small museum created by his granddaughter Isabelle Nohain exists in the town of Cogolin in the Var département in France.