Obit: Michel Serrault, Played Albin in 1979 La Cage, Has Passed Away

| Aug 1, 2007
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One of the first movies I ever saw that depicted a drag queen as a sympathetic character and not a crazy person was the original 1978 La Cage aux Folles. (It was released in the U.S. in 1979.) The fabulous Zaza was played by French film star Michel Serrault. Mr. Serrault had played the role in the Paris stage production and was asked to reprise it for the film. Michel Serrault was 79 when he passed away on July 29th of this year at his home in Honfleur, France. Hispriest reported to The Associated Press that Mr. Serrault died of cancer.

La Cage aux FollesThough he appeared in over 130 films during his long career we in the transgender world will remember him for his portrayal of Zaza (a.k.a. Albin) in La Cage. His almost supersonic shrieks when the character was upset or startled were in vivid contrast to the tender sacrifice Albin makes—dressing conservatively (still female but conservative female) to meet Renato’s son’s fiance and her parents. Mr. Serrault made Zaza/Albin into more than just a stereotype. He fleshed her out into a full human being and the effort won him a César, the French equivalent of the Oscar. He again played Albin in La Cage aux Folles 2 (1980) and La Cage aux Folles 3: The Wedding (1985).

How many of us who were younger people in 1979 can remember having to be talked into seeing La Cage aux Folles? How hard it was to pretend that we really had no feeling one way or the other about the film when in reality we were dying to see it. Someone should have given me a César for the way in which I portrayed indifference when my wife suggested we see the film. And to sit through it and not break into shrieks like Zaza was next to impossible.

Michel SerraultMichel Serrault was born in Brunoy, near Paris, on January 24, 1928. He performed in cabarets and on the stage before appearing in his first film, Ah! Les Belles Bacchantes (released in the United States as Peek-a-boo), in 1954. Mr. Serrault’s survivors include his wife, Juanita, and a daughter, Nathalie, The Associated Press reported. (Another daughter died in a car crash in 1977.)

Thank you Michel Serrault for the original Zaza.

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Category: All TGForum Posts, Transgender Community News


About the Author ()

Angela Gardner is a founding member of The Renaissance Transgender Assoc., Inc., former editor of its newsletter and magazine, Transgender Community News. She was the Diva of Dish for TGF in the late 1990s and Editor of LadyLike magazine until its untimely demise. She has appeared in film and television shows portraying TG characters, as well as representing Renaissance on numerous talk shows.

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