The French actor Michel Serrault, who won international acclaim for his role as an over-emotional drag artist in the 1978 film “La Cage Aux Folles”, has died after a long illness. He was 79. The actor, one of the great names in French cinema, made 135 films in a career that spanned some 50 years. The quality of his work was recognised by the French Academy of Arts. On three occasions he was awarded a César – a French Oscar.
Born in Brunoy, south of Paris, in 1928, he began his career in theatre in 1948 before moving onto the cabaret circuit where he first worked with Jean Poiret – the man who wrote the farce “La Cage Aux Folles.” In 1954 he started his film career where he found plenty of work in supporting roles.
Not all his roles were comic. He played a suspected child killer in “Garde à Vue.” Meanwhile he continued to tread the boards and in 1986 he took on the demanding lead in Moliere’s “The Miser.” A deeply religious man, Serrault, who died at his home in Normandy, leaves a wife and daughter.