Jacques Sernas Poster


With eye-catching good looks, blond Lithuanian-born actor Jacques Sernas (aka Jack Sernas) is best known for cutting a fine figure in European costumers and spectacles in the 1950s and 1960s. Born on July 30, 1925, his father died when he was a year old and the boy would be raised by his mother in Paris. After schooling there he joined up as a French Resistance fighter during W.W.II. Captured by German forces and imprisoned for over a year in Buchenwald, he was eventually freed.

Sernas originally studied medicine in the early postwar years but acting soon caught his fancy. He made an unbilled movie debut in the French film Miroir (1947) starring Jean Gabin. In the years to come Italian/European action films would dominate his screen time. Audience attention grew in proportion with a variety of comedies, dramas, costumers and adventures including Lost Youth (1948) [Lost Youth]; Stolen Affections (1948) [Stolen Affections]; Il falco rosso (1949) [The Red Falcon] in which he played the title role; Bluebeard (1951); the costumed romancer Anita Garibaldi (1952) [Anita Garibaldi]; and Lulù (1953) co-starring with Valentina Cortese.

The actor hit major international attention after being cast as Paris opposite sex sirens Rossana Podestà and Brigitte Bardot in Helen of Troy (1956) and Hollywood itself took brief notice, handing him a starring role in the Warner Bros. war film Jump Into Hell (1955) and a few TV guest parts. When nothing came of it, he returned to Italy and was for the most part relegated to supporting characters, making one lasting impression as a fading matinée idol in Fellini's masterpiece La Dolce Vita (1960).

Other Italian/European films in and around this decade included Goddess of Love (1957) co-starring Belinda Lee; The Nights of Lucretia Borgia (1959); Duel of Champions (1961) starring Alan Ladd; The Centurion (1961) in which he co-starred with John Drew Barrymore; Duel of the Titans (1961) starring musclemen Steve Reeves and Gordon Scott; 55 Days at Peking (1963) starring Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner, which filmed in Spain; The Secret Agents (1965) [aka The Dirty Game] starring Henry Fonda, which filmed in Germany; the "spaghetti western" Fort Yuma Gold (1966), Midas Run (1969) starring Fred Astaire and Richard Crenna, which filmed in Italy and England; and the Italian/US co-production Hornets' Nest (1970), a war drama starring Rock Hudson.

As the years rolled by Sernas was seen less and less on film and more and more on Italian TV. Into the millennium he appeared in a few elderly roles, one being a 2003 TV movie about Pope John XXIII. Jacques died at age 89 on July 3, 2015 in Rome.