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French actor Claude Brasseur dies aged 84

French actor Claude Brasseur (in 2015)
French actor Claude Brasseur (in 2015) © AFP/Yohan Bonnet
3 min

The French Claude Brasseur, has died aged 84. Brasseur has played in about a hundred films, including the popular comedies "Camping" and "La Boum", and has also appeared in many stage productions. Over the course of his career, he received two Césars.

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Television gave Claude Brasseur his first legitimacy in the 1960s with the very popular series Vidocq, the story of an adventurer, former convict and policeman.

In 1977, Claude Brasseur received the César for best actor in a supporting role for the comedy Un éléphant ça trompe énormément. Three years later, he received the César for best actor for La guerre des polices.

Almost 110 films

He will also remain associated with the role of Sophie Marceau (Vic)'s father in La boum and the holidaymaker attached to his pitch in Camping.

"For me, playing is not work. When I play, I feel like I'm going back to the playground where, with my friends, we used to have fun with policemen and thieves, cowboys and Indians. Afterwards, I was emperor, chief of police, dentist... I pray that I never go to the theatre or to a stage with lead soles", said the actor, in his hoarse voice, to the almost 110 films.

Claude Espinasse was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris on 15 June 1936. He is the only son of Pierre Brasseur and Odette Joyeux, illustrious actors who separated shortly after his birth. Carried by a dynasty of artists dating back to 1820, he took, like his father, the name of his grandmother.

In the evening, before going to bed, Claude, godson of the American writer Ernest Hemingway, could see Maria Casarès, Jean Vilar, Louis Jouvet and Jean-Paul Sartre arrive home. 

However, not everything was easy in his childhood, as he recounts in his autobiography, entitled Thank you!. (2014): "I never knew my parents' love. They never took care of me".

Three years in Algeria

After a chaotic schooling, he was assistant photographer for the weekly Paris-Match magazine before going on stage for the first time in 1955, in Marcel Pagnol's Judas. A year later, he made his first appearance in Marcel Carné's "Le Pays d'où je viens".

He then served three years as a parachutist in war-torn Algeria. He will regret not having had the political culture to be a conscientious objector.

He worked with Jean-Luc Godard (Bande à part, 1964), Costa-Gavras (Un homme de trop, 1967) and François Truffaut (Une belle fille comme moi, 1972). 

At the theatre, he triumphed in 1993 in Le dîner de cons by Francis Veber.

Crazy about cars, he took part in several Paris-Dakar races, which he won in 1983 as co-driver of Jacky Ickx.

He had been married since 1970 to Michèle Cambon, with whom he had a son, Alexandre Brasseur, also an actor.

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