Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Michel Gérard Joseph Colucci

(1944-10-28)28 October 1944
Paris, France
Died19 June 1986(1986-06-19) (aged 41)
Cause of deathMotorcycle crash
Occupation(s)Actor, Comedian

Michel Gérard Joseph Colucci (French: [miʃɛl ʒeʁaʁ ʒɔzɛf kɔlytʃi], Italian: [koˈluttʃi]; 28 October 1944 – 19 June 1986), better known under his stage name Coluche (IPA: [kɔlyʃ]), was a French stage comedian and cinema actor. He adopted Coluche as a stage name at age 26, when he began his entertainment career. He became known for his irreverent attitude towards politics and the establishment, and he incorporated this into much of his material. He was one of the first major comedians to regularly use profanities as a source of humor on French television. He also founded the charity "Les Restaurants du Cœur" which still provides free meals and other products to people in need.

Early life


Colucci was born on 28 October 1944, just weeks after the Liberation of Paris, in a hospital in the 14th arrondissement of the city. His mother, Simone Bouyer (called "Monette"), worked as a florist in the Boulevard du Montparnasse. His father, Honorio Colucci, from Casalvieri in Lazio, Italy,[1] was a painter and decorator. His father died in 1947 at age 31 from poliomyelitis; his wife struggled thereafter to raise the young Michel and his sister (Danièle, 18 months older than Michel) on a meagre salary.

Coluche showed little promise at school, and left after completing his primary studies (June 1958). He tried various temporary jobs, and had several run-ins with authorities. During this time his mother bought him a guitar, which he taught himself to play. In 1964 he joined the 60th Infantry Regiment de Lons-le-Saunier, but was imprisoned for insubordination. On his return to civilian life, he worked in his mother's florist shop which she had been able to open on rue d'Aligre, and later in a larger shop which she opened near la Gare de Lyon. He found this work dull, and suddenly quit, which caused a long-lasting breach with his mother.

At the end of the 1960s he tried his luck as a singer in cafes, then turned to comedy.



In 1969, with Romain Bouteille he was present at the start of the Café de la Gare, meeting place of a group of young comedic actors practically all of whom were to become famous: Patrick Dewaere, Henri Guybet, Miou-Miou, Martin Lamotte, etc. Among the patrons of the Café de la Gare were Georges Moustaki, Raymond Devos, Jean Ferrat, Jacques Brel, Leni Escudero, Pierre Perret and Jean Yanne. Later they were joined by Gérard Lanvin, Renaud, Rufus, Diane Kurys, Coline Serreau, Anémone, Gérard Depardieu, Thierry Lhermitte, Josiane Balasko and Gérard Jugnot.

Coluche's first sketch C'est l'histoire d'un mec (It's the story of a guy) was about the difficulties of telling a funny story. He quickly found success, but alcohol problems forced him to leave the group.

He went on to found another group, Le vrai chic parisien (The true Parisian chic) and it was then that he met his future wife, Véronique Kantor. They married in 1975 and had two sons, Marius and Romain Colucci. His behaviour and addictions forced him to leave the new group and launch his solo career.

Solo career


It was at this point that he began to dress in his well-known outfit of white tennis shoes, blue striped overalls, a bright yellow T-shirt and round glasses. He became famous with his parody of a TV game (Le Schmilblick). He was sacked by the radio stations Europe 1 and Radio Monte Carlo for vulgarity.



Presidential bid


In a 30 October 1980 press conference at the theatre of his one-man show, Coluche announced his candidacy for the French presidential election. He was not taken seriously until the Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche published a poll on 14 December 1980 showing Coluche supported by 16% of potential voters.[2] His "campaign" was supported and organized by Parisian publisher Charlie Hebdo, with slogans such as "Before me, France was divided in two; now it will be folded in four" (more idiomatically "être plié en quatre" could be translated as "doubled over laughing"), and "Coluche - the only candidate who has no reason to lie". However, he withdrew after pressure from serious politicians - including François Mitterrand who saw him as a menace for his own candidacy - and the murder of his manager René Gorlin.



In 1984 Coluche was awarded the César Award for Best Actor for his role in the film Tchao Pantin (1983) directed by Claude Berri, a film that mirrored his chaotic personal life.[3]

Restaurants du Cœur


In September 1985, he launched the "Restaurants du Cœur" (usually called Restos du cœur) charity (40,000 volunteers in almost 2,500 eating establishments, which serve some 600,000 daily beneficiaries) in a speech on the radio station Europe 1. The charity collects food, money and clothes for the needy and the homeless. Each year, a fundraising concert series is presented by singers and celebrities collectively known as "Les Enfoirés".



In March 1985 Coluche had set a world speed record (252.087 km/h; 156.64 mph) on a one-km (1000 yard) track in Italy with a 750cc motorcycle. A little more than a year later, at 16:35 on 19 June 1986, he died after crashing his Honda 1100 VFC into a truck on the "route de Cannes" a road in the commune of Opio, Alpes-Maritimes in southeastern France. He was 41. This event provoked national grief and inspired the album Putain de camion ("fucking truck") by his close friend Renaud. Some conspiracy theories have since surfaced, mainly in the book Coluche, l'accident: contre-enquête,[4] alleging that Coluche might have been murdered.[5][6]

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of his death, from 6 October 2016 to 14 January 2017, an exhibition about Coluche was held at Paris City Hall.[7]

In March 2011, a bronze statue of Coluche, dressed in his trademark striped dungarees, was unveiled in his hometown of Montrouge (suburb of Paris).[3]


"Place Coluche" in Paris

Coluche won the César Award for "Best Actor" for his role in Tchao Pantin (So Long, Stooge, 1983), one of his few dramatic roles.



The film Coluche : l'histoire d'un mec, directed by Antoine de Caunes and relating the events surrounding Coluche's bid for the French presidency in 1981 was released in France in October 2008. François-Xavier Demaison plays Coluche.



Coming from a working-class family and a background of grinding poverty, Coluche fought for the equality of citizens. A law known as the Loi Coluche was passed in 1988, allowing large tax deductions (up to 75% in some cases) for individuals or businesses that donate to specified aid agencies.

The main-belt asteroid 170906 Coluche, discovered by Swiss astronomer Michel Ory in 2004, was named after Coluche.

There are statues of Coluche in his home quarter of Montrouge (suburb of Paris), unveiled in March 2011 (a bronze status of Coluche, dressed with his trademark striped dungaree),[3] and in Le Vigan, Gard in the south of France. Numerous theatres, schools and social spaces bear his name all over France.

In October 2016, the Hôtel de ville de Paris (5, rue de Lobau) opened an exhibition marking the 30th anniversary of his death. It focuses on his radio and movie career up to his announcement of his presidential candidacy. It ran through 7 January 2017.[8]


Year Title Role Director Notes
1970 Le Pistonné Marquand Claude Berri
Donkey Skin Un paysan injurieux Jacques Demy Uncredited
1971 Laisse aller... c'est une valse Le patron du café Georges Lautner
1973 Elle court, elle court la banlieue Bouboule Gérard Pirès
L'An 01 the chief Jacques Doillon
Alain Resnais
Jean Rouch
Themroc the male neighbour Claude Faraldo
Le grand bazar The visitor of the appartement Claude Zidi
1976 Les vécés étaient fermés de l'intérieur L'inspecteur Charbonnier Patrice Leconte
L'aile ou la cuisse Gérard Duchemin Claude Zidi
1977 Drôles de zèbres the chef Guy Lux
Vous n'aurez pas l'Alsace et la Lorraine Le Roi Gros Pif 1er Coluche
Marc Monnet
1980 Inspector Blunder Michel Clément Claude Zidi
1981 Signé Furax L'agent double 098 / 099 Pierre Dac
Francis Blanche
Le Maître d'école Gérard Barbier Claude Berri
1982 Elle voit des nains partout! Un hallebardier Jean-Claude Sussfeld
Deux heures moins le quart avant Jésus-Christ Ben-Hur Marcel Jean Yanne
1983 Banzaï Michel Bernardin Claude Zidi
My Best Friend's Girl Micky Bertrand Blier
So Long, Stooge Lambert Claude Berri
1984 Good King Dagobert King Dagobert Dino Risi
La vengeance du serpent à plumes Loulou Dupin Gérard Oury
1985 Les Rois du gag Georges Claude Zidi
Sac de noeuds Coyotte Josiane Balasko
Madman at War Oscar Pilli Dino Risi (final film role)


  1. ^ Beaucarnot, Jean-Louis; Dumoulin, Frédéric (2015). Dictionnaire étonnant des célébrités. Paris: Éditions First. ISBN 978-2-7540-7052-2. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  2. ^ 16% of voting intentions Archived 9 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b c "Blunt and beloved: French comedian Coluche still alive in memories". France 24. 19 June 2011.
  4. ^ By Antoine Casubolo and Jean Depussé, éditions Privé, 2006
  5. ^ "Coluche - an accident?". Archived from the original on 23 March 2008. Retrieved 10 March 2008.
  6. ^ "BELLACIAO - Un livre remet en cause la thèse de l'accident mortel de Coluche il y a juste 20 ans - SERGE BRESSAN". Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2008.
  7. ^ Lechevestrier, Fanny (23 December 2016). "Culture : le succès de l'exposition Coluche à l'Hôtel de Ville de Paris prolongé" (in French). France Bleu. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  8. ^ "Coluche - l'Histoire d'un Mec qui Vaut Bien une Expo, Le Monde, 6 October 2016". Archived from the original on 22 December 2017. Retrieved 9 October 2016.