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Coluche 1.jpg
Born Michel Colucci
(1944-10-28)October 28, 1944
Died June 19, 1986(1986-06-19) (aged 41)
Opio, Alpes-Maritimes
Cause of death Motorcycle crash
Nationality French
Occupation Actor, Humorist

Michel Gérard Joseph Colucci (born October 28, 1944 in Paris, France; died June 19, 1986 in Opio, Alpes-Maritimes, France), better known as Coluche (French pronunciation: ​[kɔˈlyʃ]), was a French comedian and actor famous for his irreverent sense of humour.

Colucci adopted "Coluche" as a stage name at 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.

Youth and comic debut[edit]

Michel Gérard Joseph Colucci was born on 28 October 1944, weeks after the liberation of Paris, in a hospital in the 14th arrondissement in the south of Paris. His mother, Simone Bouyer, worked as a florist in the Boulevard Montparnasse. His father, Honorio Colucci, who originally came from Casalvieri in Lazio, Italy,[1] was a painter and decorator. His father died in 1947 at the age of 31 from polio. This left Coluche's mother to bring up alone his two children on a meager salary.

Coluche showed little promise at school and afterwards had various temporary jobs. He joined the infantry but was imprisoned for insubordination. After returning to civilian life, he worked with his mother as a florist.

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 comedians 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 became a popular success, but alcohol problems forced him to leave the group.

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

Solo career[edit]

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 was sacked by two radio stations for vulgarity.

The 1980s[edit]

Presidential bid[edit]

On October 30, 1980, Coluche organised a press conference in the theatre where he was performing a one-man show, and 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 crediting Coluche with 16% of voting intentions. He withdrew after pressure from serious politicians.


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.

Restaurants du Cœur[edit]

In September 1985, he launched the "Restos du cœur" charity (40,000 volunteers in almost 2,500 Restos, which welcome 600,000 beneficiaries a day) in a speech on the radio station Europe 1. This famous speech begins "I have a little idea…" 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 ("the assholes").

The same month, Coluche set a world speed record of 252.087 kilometres per hour for a 750cc motorbike on track.


Less than a year later, at 16:35 on 19 June 1986, Coluche died when his motorcycle crashed into a truck on a bend in a road in the commune of Opio 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,[2] alleging that Coluche might have been murdered.[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 very few dramatic roles. He also won the Prix National des Euphémismes de Charente-Maritime (National Prize for Understatements of Charente-Maritime) in 1978, at the third try.


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.

An asteroid, (170906) Coluche is named after Coluche.

A rose is named for Coluche – it is on display in the rose garden of Tabor Park, Rennes.

There are statues of Coluche in his home quarter of Montrouge, and in Le Vigan, Gard in the south of France. Numerous theatres and social spaces are called after him all over France.

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Director
1973 Themroc the male neighbour Claude Faraldo
L'An 01 the chief Jacques Doillon
Alain Resnais
Jean Rouch
1976 L'aile ou la cuisse Gérard Duchemin Claude Zidi
1977 Drôles de zèbres the chef Guy Lux
1980 Inspector Blunder Michel Clément Claude Zidi
1981 Le Maître d'école Gérard Barbier Claude Berri
1982 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 Sac de noeuds Coyotte Josiane Balasko
Madman at War Oscar Pilli Dino Risi


  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. ^ By Antoine Casubolo and Jean Depussé, éditions Privé, 2006
  3. ^ BELLACIAO - Un livre remet en cause la thèse de l’accident mortel de Coluche il y a juste 20 ans - SERGE BRESSAN

External links[edit]