In 1909 he became the partner and eventual long-time lover of the biggest female star in France at the time, Mistinguett at the Folies Bergère[?]. During World War I, he entered the armed services, was shot in the back, won the Croix de Guerre[?] and became a prisoner of war.
After the war he became popular in Britain, and began a film career. At this time, he also made his first attempt at a career on Broadway, but this came to a grinding halt when he had to give up performing for several months because of a mental breakdown. By 1929 he had recovered and moved to Hollywood, where he landed his first American film role in Innocents of Paris[?]. In 1930, Chevalier was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, for two roles: The Love Parade and The Big Pond.
He returned to France in 1935, and spent most of World War II in seclusion, though he made brief appearances, on one occasion as part of a prisoner exchange. After the war it was rumored that he had been a colloborator, though these were later disproved.
Chevalier's trademark was a casual straw hat, which he always wore on stage with his tuxedo. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1651 Vine Street.