Born on October 28, 1889, Juliette Béliveau was barely ten years old when she performed in La Meunière at the Monument-National with Elzéar Roy's Soirées de famille. Two years later, she was in the cast of La Case de l'oncle Tom at the Théâtre National with Paul Cazeneuve's company (which at the time included Fannie Tremblay-Brémont). Béliveau studied speech production at the Académie Marchand before playing Fanfan in Sardou's La Famille Benoîton (1902) at the Théâtre Les Nouveautés, and creating the title role in Véronica (1903), which Louis Fréchette is thought to have written for Sarah Bernhardt. These two women met, in fact, in 1905 during the diva's performance in Quebec.
When the Théâtre des Variétés closed, Juliette Béliveau performed with the companies of the Conservatoire Lasalle and Nationascope (1911). She cut back her theatre work for a few years following her marriage in 1916, but then played opposite J. Hervey Germain in Les Aventures d'Aglaé, which ran at the Ouimetoscope for 52 weeks.
Beginning in 1920, Béliveau recorded variety songs, as well as more than a 100 humorous sketches, on the Starr label with Elzéar Hamel, Alexandre Desmarteaux, Eugène Daigneault, Ovila Légaré and, primarily, J. Hervey Germain.
Concurrently, Béliveau starred in about a 100 light comedies at the Théâtre National, including Envoye, envoye by Paul Gury, En roulant ma boule, Dans l'Ouest, ma chère and Boum, ça y est by Almer Perreault, Montréal fin d'année by J. R. Tremblay, As-tu vu Gédéon? by Armand LeClaire, Viens pas m'achaler, À ton tour, Ti-Coq and Fridolin. This last character inspired Gratien Gélinas to write his Fridolinades, which he staged 10 years later starring Juliette Béliveau and Juliette Huot.
The rise of radio in the 1930s created new possibilities for Juliette Béliveau. She played in a number of radio serials, including "Le Curé de village" (CKAC, 1935-1938), "Rue principale" (CKAC, 1937-1959), and "Un homme et son péché" (SRC, 1939-1957), in addition to hosting "L'Heure provinciale" with Henri Letondal (CKAC). Her popularity reached a peak with "Le Programme Juliette Béliveau" (CKAC, 1947-1950). In addition to her roles in various radio serials, Juliette Béliveau played the role of Aunt Clara in a theatre production of Ti-Coq by Gratien Gélinas.
The emerging Quebec cinema called on Juliette Béliveau's talents for Un homme et son péché (1949) by Paul L'Anglais, Le Gros Bill (1949) and Le Rossignol et les Cloches (1950) by René Delacroix, and Ti-Coq (1952) by Gratien Gélinas. Her performance as Aunt Clara won her the Castor in 1953 for the best supporting role in Quebec cinema.
On television, she played roles in the soap opera "La Famille Plouffe" (SRC, 1953-1957), "La Feuille au vent" (SRC, 1953-1954), "Toi et moi" (SRC, 1954-1960), "Les Quat' fers en l'air" (SRC, 1954-1955), "Grandville, P.Q." (SRC, 1956), "La Pension Velder" (SRC, 1957-1960), "Les Belles Histoires des pays d'en-haut" (SRC, 1956-1970), "Sous le signe du lion" (SRC, 1961), "Le Pain du jour" (SRC, 1962-1965), "Rue de l'Anse" (SRC, 1963-1965), "Septième Nord" (SRC, 1963-1967) and "Rue des Pignons" (SRC, 1966-1977). She was also in the series "Mes jeunes années" (SRC, 1952-1954) alongside Colette Bonheur, and was a guest on all variety shows.
After an absence of a few years, Juliette Béliveau returned to the stage in Sonnez les Matines (1956) by Félix Leclerc. Then she performed in Hennie soit qui joual y pense (1961) at the Stella, Les Choutes (1961) and Qui s'y frotte s'y pique (1962) at the Théâtre du Rideau Vert, and in the musicals Gai gai la belle province (1966) and Terre des femmes (1968) by Muriel Millard.
As a highly popular and esteemed actress, Juliette Béliveau even became the heroine of a comic strip (by Raymond Deslauriers, and later Dick Lucas) published in the arts weekly Radiomonde from 1950 to 1954. In 1956, the Union des Artistes celebrated the 50th anniversary of her acting career in grand style at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montréal. In addition, 2,500 people paid homage to her on March 11, 1972, at a televised gala held in the Théâtre Saint-Denis in Montréal. Juliette Béliveau died in Montréal on August 26, 1975.
Source: Unpublished research notes by Robert Thérien, music researcher, Montréal
Selected recordings available
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- Martineau, Denyse. Juliette Béliveau. Montréal : Éditions de l'homme, 1970. 218 p. AMICUS 3553685