Jacques Perrin, ‘Cinema Paradiso’ Star, Dies at 80

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French actor, director and producer Jacques Perrin, a fixture for decades in both French and Italian cinema — where he was best known for his role in Giuseppe Tornatore’s Oscar-winning “Cinema Paradiso” — has died. He was 80.

“The family has the immense sadness of informing you of the death of filmmaker Jacques Perrin, who died on Thursday, April 21 in Paris. He passed away peacefully,” Perrin’s family announced in a statement sent to news agency Agence France Press by his son, Mathieu Simonet. The cause of death was not specified.

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Born in Paris on July 13, 1941, Perrin, starting in the 1950s, starred in more than 70 films and co-directed others, including the Oscar-nominated “Winged Migration” (2001), in tandem with Philippe Labro, about the voyage of migratory birds which used in-flight cameras and was a box office hit.

The soft-spoken thesp had landed his first leading role starring opposite Italy’s Claudia Cardinale in Valerio Zurlini’s “Girl with a Suitcase” which went to Cannes in competition in 1961.

In 1966 he won the Venice Film Festival’s Coppa Volpi acting prize for his role in Vittorio De Seta’s existential drama “Un uomo a metà.”

Perrin later starred opposite Catherine Deneuve in the Jacques Demy-directed musicals “The Young Girls of Rochefort” (1967) and “Donkey Skin” (1970).

He was frequently cast as a military officer, especially by French director Pierre Schoendoerffer who directed Perrin in “The 317th Platoon” in 1965, “Drummer-Crab” in 1977 and “A Captain’s Honor” in 1982.

His best-known later role is that of the adult filmmaker Salvatore who reflects on his childhood in Tornatore’s 1988 Oscar-winning “Cinema Paradiso”.

Perrin also co-produced a dozen films, including Costa Gavras’ “Z” (1969), which won Oscars for best foreign film and best film editing in 1969, and The Chorus” (2004), directed by his nephew Christophe Barratier, which was a box office hit in France.

“Jacques was pure charm. He succeeded in everything he touched,” tweeted former Cannes Film Festival president Gilles Jacob.

“He is one of the most subtle, most interesting French producers,” Costa-Gavras said on the website franceinfo, where he also paid tribute to the memory “of a man of great curiosity and also of extreme kindness.”

Reflecting Perrin’s commitment to conservation and ecology, his final film role was in the environmental thriller “Goliath,” directed by Frédéric Tellier and released in France in March.

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