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Pierre Étaix

Pierre Étaix
  • 1928 - 2016
  • France
  • Actor
  • Interpreter
  • Stage director

Pierre Etaix is remembered for his cinematic work first and foremost: after starting out creating gags for Jacques Tati (Mon oncle), he directed Heureux anniversaire (which won an Oscar in 1963), Le Soupirant (Prix Louis Delluc 1963), YoYo (Grand Prix OCIC at the Mostra in Venice 1965), Tant qu’on a la santé (1965), Le Grand Amour (Grand Prix du Cinéma Français), Pays de cocagne (1969)... Masterpieces which, due to an improbable legal imbroglio, were kept from our screens for many years.
But Etaix’s first loves were the music hall, the cabaret and the circus. He started out in some of the capital’s most legendary venues: Le Cheval d’Or, Les Trois Baudets, A.B.C, l’Alhambra, Bobino, l’Olympia... while also learning the ropes of the circus business with iconic clown Nino. He wrote and performed À quoi on joue (Prix de la Société des Auteurs 1972) before returning to clowning with his wife, Annie Fratellini. Together they co-founded the National Circus School (1973) and appeared in their own shows, he as the “White Clown” and she as “Auguste”. In 1982 he premiered his first serious play, L’âge de Monsieur est avancé, which he also adapted for the small screen in 1987 (he took the starring role, alongside Nicole Calfan and Jean Carmet).
His total mastery of image, sound and comic timing throughout his career made Pierre Étaix the undisputed master of slapstick in France, our very own Jerry Lewis.