Michel Roux, the respected French film and theatre star, died on Friday in Paris. Friends and family confirmed today that the actor had been suffering from heart problems. His funeral will be celebrated on Thursday in Paris.
Michel Roux was born July 22, 1929 in Colombes, a suburb located six miles from the center of Paris. Roux began his acting career at age 14. He showed early talent and love for the craft of acting, and quickly fell into high demand as a stage actor, despite any formal acting training.
Michel Roux was a major figure of popular “boulevard theatre,” the French equivalent of Broadway. Although many critics disparage the boulevard genre, which consists mainly of light comedies, Roux was proud of his legacy in the field. “The popular theatre is that which touches the greatest number,” Roux stated in 2002, and cited the work of Molière as proof that popularity doesn’t always mean lack of quality.
Roux was known to Parisian theatergoers for his star turns onstage in plays like “La Cages aux Folles” and “Le Diner De Cons.” However, many of his international fans knew him primarily from his voice work.
Although Roux appeared in many films, his most widely seen and celebrated success in the field of cinema were not his own roles, but his work making American and British films accessible to hundreds of thousands of Francophone moviegoers. Roux provided French-language voice-overs for English-speaking stars ranging from Peter Sellars to Alec Guiness to Jack Lemmon. One of his best known voice roles was in the French language dubbing of television show “The Persuaders,” wherein he performed the lines for the Tony Curtis character. He was also famous for providing the French dubbing for Elvis Presley in his films throughout 1950s and 60s.
Roux enjoyed success as a director of light comedies, and continued to work as an actor until late in life. His final stage appearance was in 2006 at the Palais-Royal Theater, where he performed in the play “Le Charlatan,” a well-received Boulevard comedy by Robert Lamoureux. The Palais-Royal was the first theatre built in France, and has hosted entertainment since it was first founded the mid 1600s. Roux’s final appearance at this historically notable venue rounded out a full career that included over sixty years of regular stage performances, delighted French-speaking audiences and influenced generations of French entertainers. In recognition of his contributions to French society, Roux was made an official Chevalier de l’Orde des Arts et des Lettres, one of the country’s highest honors.