He spent two years at the Conservatoire, and made his first appearance at a variety performance in one of the basement restaurants at the Palais Royal. At the Ambigu on the 12 July 1823 he played the part of Robert Macaire in L'Auberge des Adrets. The melodrama was played seriously on the first night and was received with little favor, but it was changed on the second night to burlesque, and thanks to him had a great success. All of Paris came to see it, and from that day he was famous.
He created a number of parts that added to his popularity, especially Cardillac, Cagliostro and Cartouche. His success in the last led to an engagement at the Porte St. Martin, where in 1827 he produced Trente ans, ou la vie d'un joueur, in which his vivid acting made a profound impression.
Afterwards at the Odéon and other theatres he passed from one success to another. In 1836, at the Théâtre des Variétés he appeared with success as the great, and recently deceased, English actor Edmund Kean in the play Kean by Alexandre Dumas, père. He put the final touch to his reputation as an artist by creating the part of Ruy Blas in Victor Hugo's play (1838).
On his return to the Porte St. Martin he created the title-role in Balzac's Vautrin, which was forbidden a second presentation, on account, it is said, of the resemblance of the actors wig to the well-known toupé worn by Louis Philippe. His last appearance was at this theatre in 1873 as the old Jew in Marie Tudor