Serge Nadaud by Teddy Piaz

The various versions of Snow White rarely list the actors in the credits. Such is the case in the original American version, but the second French dubbing has a card dedicated entirely to the cast. However, Serge Nadaud is one of the great absentees from this card. This is unfair on two counts: the character he plays, the slave of the magic mirror, may well be described as “secondary”, but he has infinitely more dialogue than Georges Hubert, who plays Sleepy and is yet mentioned, probably enjoying the privilege of being one of the dwarfs of the title.

The second injustice concerns the fact that it was he who directed all the other actors. Serge Nadaud, born Eugène Rabinowitch on May 14, 1906, in Bakhmout, then in Russia and now in the Ukraine, was a veteran dubbing actor in 1962 and had been directing dubbing casts, here at SPS, for many years.


As an actor, he made his stage debut at the age of 18, under the guidance of actor Gémier at the Odéon, alongside Michel Simon in the role of a young student in “Boudu Saved from Drowning”, a role taken up by Jean Dasté in the screen adaptation. He then appeared in “Faust”, then “Un train de plaisir”, etc. His handsome physique, a young man of 1m74 with blue eyes and ash-blond hair, led him to play roles of young leads or young lovers, with Jules Berry, Louis Jouvet, Françoise Rosay, Fernand Gravey and other great actors. Among the reviews of the time, one can read “young and elegant” in Paris-Soir on December 24, 1926, and a “tender and sweet” in La Patrie on January 1, 1927. When he took over the role of Jack in “Les vignes du Seigneur” in 1927, he was found to be “younger and more English than [André] Luguet”, then an actor at the Comédie Française. He replaced Luguet again 9 years later in “Trois, six, neuf”. His breakthrough to leading roles came with Pierre Seiez’s “Ludo” in 1932, and he lived luxuriously at 23 quai de Grenelle, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. The recording of “Frédéric” in the program Au théâtre ce soir, available on DVD, allows us to see him in this role much later in his career.

Paris-Soir of January 7, 1926 reveals a little-known talent of the artist’s: Serge Nadaud’s caricature of actor Pierre Alcover. He also sketched himself in Le Figaro on May 4, 1930, a newspaper in which several of his drawings can be found.

Serge Nadaud by Teddy Piaz
Serge Nadaud by himself


As he gradually climbed onto the theater bill, he took advantage of the arrival of talking pictures to diversify. He appeared on screen in one of the title roles in the 1931 film The Four vagabonds, shot in Germany as was customary at the time, the French studios having been slow to acquire sound equipment. The film was therefore a French version of the German film Gassenhauer, shot in the same setting with French actors, and adapted by its star, Aimé Simon-Girard, Henri Diamant-Berger’s D’Artagnan. His second film came 5 years later, this time in Italy, where he played an English lord, a job for which he was known in the theater. Between 1938 and 1940, he played three small roles in between two plays, and when we see him alongside Françoise Rosay and Michel Simon in The Stream (available on DVD from Lobster Film), he’s as elegant as ever, but no longer looks like a young leading man.

Unsurprisingly, he disappeared from the silver screen during the war, but his remarkable baritone voice was still heard in operettas in the Free Zone until 1942, after which he vanishes until 1945. His last feature film was directed by Léo Joannon, a notorious collaborator.

After the war, and dubbing

He returned to the theater in 1945, as an actor and producer, and to small film roles from 1947. He played the jeweler in Duvivier’s Under the Paris Sky. From the 1950s, he was occasionally seen on television, first in adaptations of plays in which he acted, then in series, and he was also active on the radio.

In dubbing, you’ll easily recognize him as the French voice of Spencer Tracy in film classics such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or Adam’s Rib. And lovers of James Bond films will find him on the dialogues of M, the secret agent’s boss. But the list of stars he has dubbed for a few films almost rivals the endless list of small roles he has played in masterpieces such as Gone with the Wind, The Robe, Stalag 17 and so on. He made his acting debut in the 1930s, appearing as Brian Donlevy in the 1938 French version of In Old Chicago.

Serge Nadaud in The Strong Batignolles (1952)


In cartoons, he lends his voice to the famous Rastapopoulos with an Eastern accent, perhaps drawn from his origins (he speaks fluent Russian), in the film Tintin and the Lake of Sharks, in which he also directs the actors. But he had already played several roles in Seven Crystal Balls and the Prisoners of the Sun, where he collaborated with Lucie Dolène, who was also on the set of Jean Image’s Aladdin & the Magic Lamp. After that, Jean Image employed him to direct the cast of all his subsequent feature films. He can also be heard in The Smurfs and the Magic Flute and Animal Farm.

For Walt Disney, he directed the dubbing of Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Wind in the Willows, The Sword in the Stone, Robin Hood, Toby Tyler or Ten Weeks with a Circus, etc., among others.