Pierre Jalbert

For the French-speaking Cajun G.I. from Louisiana, Paul “Caddy” Cadron, the producers brought film editor Pierre Jalbert out of the cutting room and into the spotlight.

Pierre was born the son of a newspaperman in Quebec City, Canada on January 9, and christened Joseph Jacques Pierre-Paul Jalbert. There, he attended Ouellet College and Laval University. While at university he was in the army reserve a year.
“Then the air force created the University Air Training Corps,” says Pierre Jalbert, “so I transferred to that. I was there from ‘41 to the end of the war. I became a sergeant. I was the drilling sergeant for my squad.” Pierre was studying to be a pilot when the war ended.

Pierre Jalbert was the top seated ski racer in Canada and, after the war, was hoping for a berth on the Canadian Olympic team when disaster struck. He contracted rheumatic fever and his doctor informed him that he would never ski again. By the following fall, he made an astonishing recovery from an illness that customarily leaves its victims semi-invalids. His doctor gave him the go-ahead to resume skiing. At the National Championships, he emerged as Canadian National Champ and became the Olympic team captain. Unfortunately, he broke his leg in a training mishap two days before the Olympics and didn
’t compete.

After the Olympics, he remained in Europe, sightseeing and later living in Paris where he studied art and art appreciation at the Sorbonne. A year later, he returned to Canada and resumed his job as editor and associate producer with the Canadian National Film Board, a federal production agency, and later with an independent film production company in Montreal. His desire was always to come to Hollywood, but he felt was not yet ready. While captain of the Canadian ski team, he competed in ski races at Sun Valley and Aspen and climaxed his Stateside trips with a visit to Hollywood. Later that year, he returned to Paris, where he worked as assistant producer for a French film company and as partner in a Parisian import-export firm.

He spent much of his spare time with film star Norma Shearer and her husband, Marti Arrougι, old skiing acquaintances also living in Paris. They suggested he turn professional and accompany them for the ski season to Sun Valley, Idaho. Pierre agreed and became an instructor at Sun Valley.

His acting ambition still in mind, in the spring he went to Hollywood, where he has lived since. At Universal, he was hired as an assistant editor. A lull in production resulted in his being laid off. After another hiatus, he landed an editor
’s assignment at MGM.

An agent friend submitted his name for the pilot of Combat!, which gave him his long-sought-after opportunity to act. The part lasted five seasons. Pierre recalls,
“I’d been around actors most of my life, been at MGM for ten years and knew the mechanics. I knew most of the technicians who were going to work on Combat! But I had never worked as an actor professionally. But I knew actors. I’d met Vic when he had done The Blackboard Jungle. I was the dialogue editor on it.” Pierre was fascinated by the opportunity to be in front of the camera. “When we were doing the pilot, I went to Pirosh and asked why I was in his story. I wanted to find a handle to my behavior. He said, ‘Pierre, I will tell you why. When I was in France, in my squad, I had two Louisiana Coonans.’ Coonan is the slang word for Cajun. He said that they were the best soldiers that he had in his squad and they were the best killers and they never spoke too much. They did their duty and they did their work and that was it.” That was all Pierre needed to know, he had found the basis for his character. “Like Vic said, there’s only a few laws that you must know. You apply them and it’ll work. Because acting, basically, is sheer unadulterated common sense. Where am I? What am I? Who am I?”

After Combat!, Pierre allotted himself three years to make his acting career blossom, before considering returning to the editing room. He did several pilots. One was a spin-off of the FBI called “Interpol” for Warner Brothers. “It was a great part,” recalls Jalbert. “I would have been our man in Paris. But the show just didn’t fly.” He did two more pilots, both westerns, but neither was picked up. He guested several times on Mission Impossible and did a few independent movies with Edward J. Lakso, who wrote many Combat! episodes. Eventually, he returned to his old craft and went back into the cutting room. He worked at Paramount through 1990 as editor and dialogue editor on feature films and mini-series, including Grease, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Godfather, Washington Behind Closed Doors, and Shogun.

He married Joy Lee, former actress and ballerina, in January of 1961, and the couple have remained happily married. Pierre now spends his spare time refinishing furniture, remodeling houses, and writing. When time and weather allow, he keeps up his skiing.