Léon Zitrone

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Léon Zitrone
Claude Fayard 7.jpg
Léon Zitrone (left)
Born (1914-11-25)25 November 1914
Petrograd, Russia
Died 25 November 1995(1995-11-25) (aged 81)
Levallois-Perret, France
Occupation television journalist

Léon Zitrone (25 November 1914 - 25 November 1995) was a Russian-born French journalist and television presenter.


Léon Zitrone was born in Petrograd, Russia. He arrived in France with his family fleeing communism at the age of six. He graduated from the ESJ Paris. He began by training in scientific studies but his mastership of Russian, French, English and German gave him entrance in 1948 to the radio foreign broadcasting services of Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française (RTF). In 1959, he joined the television activity of RTF. From 1961, he became news presenter, function he occupied for nearly 20 years, first until 1975, on the first French television channel (now TF1), then also on Antenne 2, the other public service channel. Jean-Pierre Elkabbach called him back in 1979. He then took charge of the news program during the week-end (his contract was established until 1 February 1981). He would come back for those news programs also during the Easter and Pentecost week-ends.

But Léon Zitrone's celebrity is due to the programs he presented or co-presented. He was host of the televised program Intervilles (French counterpart of England's It's a Knockout) with Guy Lux. He commented 6 times the Tour de France, and he is remembered for his prodigious memory for names of riders. He presented the Olympics for 8 times, commented the Eurovision Song Contest on 4 occasions and presented 16 Bastille Day military parades. Above all, he was the key-commenter for big events, such as weddings, burials or investitures of world's key figures, some thirty of them during the course of his career.

He was also keen on horses and was a horse-races commenter. He was one of the best guests for the RTL radio program "les Grosses Têtes".

He spoke a distinguished French, simple and literary, as it would be written and he was capable of drawing out his commentary for several hours on if it was necessary, without monotony or repetition. People can remember him being rattled only once: in July 1989 with his commentary of the parade of Jean-Paul Goude for the bicentenary of the French Revolution when the images that were sent by producer Jean-Paul Jaud became repetitive (cameras had been placed in different places along the parade and the images came confusively and with repetitions).

In 1978, following French singer Marie Myriam's victory the previous year, the Eurovision song contest took place in Paris. Léon Zitrone co-presented with Denise Fabre and made the presentation in English.

He died on his 81st bithday, 25 November 1995, in Levallois-Perret (France).

See also[edit]

Preceded by
United Kingdom Angela Rippon
Eurovision Song Contest presenter
(with Denise Fabre)
Succeeded by
Israel Daniel Pe'er and Yardena Arazi