• 24 January 1928
  •  Brunoy, Essonne, France

Michel Serrault


As accomplished and versatile the well-loved French actor Michel Serrault proved to be over the course of five decades, American audiences still remember this actor for one role only - that of the neurotic, outrageously flamboyant drag performer Albin (aka Zaza) in the side-splitting French gay farce La Cage aux Folles (1978). Opposite Italian actor Ugo Tognazzi as his more subdued partner/manager Renato, the unambiguously gay duo easily became one of the most well-received matchups ever on celluloid both here and abroad. Forget Felix and Oscar or even the Scarlett and Rhett coupling, this pair managed to turn La Cage aux Folles (1978) not only into the cult film classic it is today, but made it one of America's largest cross-over European hits ever. Born in Brunoy, France on January 24, 1928, Serrault initially had a calling to join the priesthood. After entering the seminary, he quickly realized there would be a conflict with the vow of celibacy and left. The love of performing must have also been a strong factor as he quickly changed the course of his destiny and taking up dramatic studies in Paris. His career began on the cabaret stage and as a singing apprentice and member of Robert Dhery's theater troupe before its focus shifted to filmmaking in the mid-50s. Making his film debut in 1954, one of his earliest films was in Henri-Georges Clouzot's masterpiece thriller Diabolique (1955) starring Simone Signoret in a featured part. From there he developed into a supremely talented performer who went on to appear in hundreds of character film studies, With a chameleon-like approach to his work, he proved himself not only a gifted and witty farceur but a dark and compelling dramatic actor capable of going to extreme depths in order to play a character. A successful partnership on stage and in film with the late writer/actor Jean Poiret, which included his huge international hit La Cage aux Folles (1978) and its first sequel, enhanced the respect he earned over the years. Serrault seldom ventured outside the realm of Gallic filming, which explains why he has not been a strong foreign name in America. He has been a recipient of many awards for his work. In France he has the distinction of being a three-time "Best Actor" César winner for La Cage aux Folles (1978), Garde à vue (1981) and, more recently, his retired judge in Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud (1995). Like fine wine, Serrault continued to age well as an actor while continuing to stay on top of his craft with such marvelous performances as his grifter alongside Isabelle Huppert in Claude Chabrol's L'entourloupe (1980), the titular serial killer Docteur Petiot (1990), the white-haired old timer opposite film icon Jeanne Moreau in The Old Lady Who Walked in the Sea (1991) and his farmer in The Girl from Paris (2001). He died on July 29, 2007 of cancer and was survived by his wife Juanita and actress/daughter Nathalie Serrault


Movie Name Release Date
Οι διαβολογυναίκες – Les diaboliques (1955) November 21, 1955