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06 January 2016

Michel Galabru (1922-2016)

Last Sunday, French actor Michel Galabru has died. He appeared in more than 250 films and worked with such directors as Bertrand Blier, Costa-Gavras, Luc Besson and Jean-Luc Godard. He is probably best known for his comedies with Louis de Funès.

Michel Galabru (1922-2016)
French postcard by La Roue Tourne, Paris.

Le gendarme de Saint-Tropez


Michel Louis Edmond Galabru was born in Safi, French Protectorate of Morocco (now Morocco) in 1922. He spent the first seven years of his life in Safi, where his engineer father was involved in the construction of the port city. Later, he studied at the Conservatoire national d'art dramatique in Paris.

In 1962, he played in the classic film La Guerre des boutons/War of the Buttons (Yves Robert, 1962) about two rival kid gangs whose playful combats escalate into violence. Galabru appears as the father of one of the kids.

The following year, he appeared with Michel Serrault and Louis de Funès in the comedy Nous irons à Deauville/We Will Go to Deauville (Francis Rigaud, 1963).

In the following decade, he became the sidekick of De Funès in a series of wildly popular farces about the police force of Saint-Tropez, a fashionable resort on the French Riviera: Le gendarme de Saint-Tropez/The Troops of St. Tropez (Jean Girault, 1964), Le gendarme à New York/Gendarme in New York (Jean Girault, 1965), Le gendarme se marie/The Gendarme Gets Married (Jean Girault, 1967), Le gendarme en balade/The gendarme to stroll (Jean Girault, 1970), Le Gendarme et Les Extra-Terrestres/The Gendarme and the Extra-Terrestrials (Jean Girault, 1979), and finally Le gendarme et les gendarmettes/The Gendarme and the Gendarmettes (Jean Girault, Tony Aboyantz, 1982).

In all these films, Galabru played command sergeant major Gerber. He also appeared in other comedies with De Funès, such as Le Petit Baigneur/The Little Bather (Robert Dhéry, 1968) and Jo/Joe: The Busy Body (Jean Girault, 1972).

Louis de Funès
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 294. Retail price: 1,50 Lei. Photo: publicity shot for Le gendarme se marie/The Gendarme Gets Married (Jean Girault, 1968) with Louis de Funès and Geneviève Grad.

La Cage aux Folles


Michel Galabru appeared during his career in more than 250 films. In 1977, Galabru received a César for Best Actor for his portrayal of mass murderer Joseph Bouvier in Bertrand Tavernier's Le Juge et l'assassin/The Judge and the Assassin (1976) opposite Philippe Noiret.

He also worked with such prominent directors as Costa-Gavras for Section special/Special Section (1975), Bertrand Blier for Notre histoire/Our Story (1984), Luc Besson for Subway (1985), and Jean-Luc Godard for Soigne ta droite/Keep Your Right Up (1987).

Galabru kept appearing in popular comedies and played with Louis de Funès in the Moliere adaptation L’avare/The Miser (Louis de Funès, Jean Girault, 1980).

He also worked with Ugo Tognazzi and Michel Serrault on the hilarious drag queen farce La Cage aux Folles (Édouard Molinaro, 1978) and its sequels La Cage aux Folles II (Édouard Molinaro, 1980), and La cage aux folles 3 - 'Elles' se marient/La Cage aux Folles 3: The Wedding (Georges Lautner, 1985).

His later films include the drama Mon Homme/My Man (Bertrand Blier, 1996) with Anouk Grinberg, and Astérix & Obélix contre César/Asterix & Obelix Take On Caesar (Claude Zidi, 1999), the first feature of what went on to become a series of live-action films based on Goscinny and Uderzo's Astérix comics.

He also appeared in the drama Un poison violent/Love Like Poison (Katell Quillévéré, 2010) starring Clara Augarde and Lio. It won the Prix Jean Vigo in 2010.

Michel Galabru died on 4 January 2016 in Paris of natural causes. He was married twice and had four children, including actress Emmanuelle Galabru. At the time of his death he was involved in several new film projects, including Ouvert la nuit (Edouard Baer, 2016) in which he co-stars with Audrey Tatou.


Trailer for Le gendarme de Saint-Tropez/The Troops of St. Tropez (1964). Source: Kanal von STUTTGART/BW (YouTube).


Trailer for Un poison violent/Love Like Poison (2010). Source: PalaceFilms.

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

1 comment:

Bunched Undies said...

RIP. He was very funny in La Cage