French Figure: Michel Galabru

Michel Galabru, a French actor and writer, was born on 27th October 1922 in Safi, Morocco. He spent his childhood and teenage years in Hérault before later moving to Paris. As a child, Galabru wanted above all else to become a professional footballer. His discovery of Sacha Guitry, however, instilled within him a passion for theatre, one that would later develop into a love for cinema.

Fuelled by talent and ambition, his cinematic career began in 1951, appearing in Jean Devaivre’s Ma femme, ma vache et moi. Following numerous small parts, it took ten years for Galabru to land a leading role in Yves Robert’s fanciful film, La guerre des boutons. The success of this production propelled Galabru into several notable roles, in particular his participation in the comedy, Gendarme de Saint-Tropez. With a stellar cast, including Louis de Funès, Geneviève Grad and Jean Lefebvre, the saga went from strength to strength, with sequels made into the early-eighties.

Two decades after his debut in the world of comedy, Galabru entered into what is frequently referred to as his “glory years”. Recognised in both public and professional circles as a great comedian, Galabru added yet another arrow to his quiver and tried his chances at more dramatic roles. In 1977, he received a César for Best Actor for his portrayal of Joseph Douvier in Bertrand Tavernier’s drama Le Juge et l’assassin.

By the early nineties, Galabru had started to retire from acting and performing but nevertheless starred in some highly successful productions, most notably his appearance in the critically acclaimed comedy Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis, which eight years following its release still remains the highest-grossing French-language film in France.

At the age of ninety-three, Michel Galabru died on 4th January 2016 in Paris.