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Michel Serrault


Michel Serrault (24 January 1928, Brunoy, Essonnemarker – 29 July 2007, Honfleurmarker, Normandy) was a celebrated Frenchmarker actor who appeared in over 150 films.

He had originally wanted to be a circus clown, but was sent by his parents to a seminary to study for the priesthood. He spent only a few months there before taking up acting. His first professional job was on a tour of Germanymarker in Molière's Les Fourberies de Scapin. After military service in Dijonmarker, he returned to Parismarker and joined Robert Dhery's burlesque troupe, appearing in their second hit show, Dugudu.

In 1948, he began his career in the theatre with Robert Dhéry in Les Branquignols. His first film was Ah ! Les belles bacchantes, starring Robert Dhéry, Colette Brosset (Dhéry's then-wife), and Louis de Funès; directed by Jean Loubignac in 1954. Serrault played in the 1955 suspense thriller Les Diaboliques, starring Simone Signoret and directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot.

He had met and worked with Jean Poiret in the early 1950s, which led to a song and comedy cabaret act and their playing together in 18 films from 1956 to 1984, and in a number of plays written by Poiret. The films they worked together in included Cette Sacrée Gamine (1956), with Brigitte Bardot, and Sacha Guitry's last film, Assassins et Voleurs (1957). For five years, from February 1973, he played on stage opposite Jean Poiret, the Albin/Zaza role in the play La Cage aux Folles, written by Jean Poiret.

However, he became well-known internationally in the 1970s for his starring role as Albin/Zaza in La Cage aux Folles, a 1978 film adaptation of the 1973 Poiret play. It was made into a successful Broadway musical with the same name and an English-language film (The Birdcage).Serrault was heartbroken by the death of his daughter in her early 20's.

Serrault died on 29 July 2007 of cancer, aged 79, at his home in the northwestern French city of Honfleur.

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