The world of culture loses a big name in theater and cinema

French culture lost big names during the month of December.

Robert Hossein, the unforgettable Joffrey de Peyrac in Angélique unfortunately adds to the list of disappearances.

The former President of the Republic, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing passed away at the beginning of the month. Claude Brasseur and Robert Castel joined their friends in Paradise. The world of music has lost Rika Zaraï, Ivry Gitlis and Claude Bolling. Haute Couture is in mourning with the disappearance of Pierre Cardin and the director of Paris Match, Olivier Royant died today following a long illness.

Who was Robert Hossein?

Robert Hossein, whose real name is Abraham Hosseinoff, was born on December 30, 1927 in Paris into a family of musicians. Her Zoroastrian Iranian father is a composer and Ukrainian Orthodox Russian mother is a pianist.

After a childhood in poverty, he devoted himself to drama at the age of 15. He took acting lessons at the school of Tania Balachova and began directing.

Career in cinema

At the end of the 1940s, Robert Hossein became a film actor in “Le Diable Boiteux” by Sacha Guitry and “Du Rififi chez les hommes” by Jules Dassin) then director. His success in the role of Joffrey de Peyrac in the series “Angélique” (1964-1968) makes him unforgettable. However, he has shot extensively in the films of Roger Vadim (“Le Vice et la Vertu”, “Barbarella”), Henri Verneuil (“Le Casse”), or Claude Lelouch (“Les Uns et les Autres”, “L ‘ Man and his dog “) His film career ended in 2019 with Alain Williams’ film” Le Fruit de l’Espoir “. His name has been in the credits of a hundred films.

Throughout his career, he met many stars to whom he gave the reply. Jean Gabin, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Jean-Paul Belmondo, are among them.


In 1955, he directed his first film, “The bastards go to hell”, an adaptation of the San Antonio play where he plays with his first wife, Marina Vlady. He also directed the thrillers “Pardonner nos offenses” in 1956 and “Toi le venin” in 1959. In total, he has directed around fifteen films, including Le Caviar Rouge “in 1986, which will be the last.

Career in theater

Robert Hossein has 4 pieces to his credit as an author between 1949 and 1963:

1949: Les Voyous, Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier.
1954: Limited liability, Fontaine Theater
1957: You who judge us, Théâtre de l’Oeuvre
1963: Six Hommes en question by Frédéric Dard & Robert Hossein, Antoine Theater

His name appeared in the cast of around thirty plays, the first of which was “The Return of the Prodigal Child” by André Gide, directed by Jean Marchat, Théâtre des Mathurins in 1949. His last performances at the theater were in 2010 (“The Seznec Affair” by Eric Rognard and Olga Vincent at the Théâtre de Paris and “Dominici: un trial ruthless” by Marc Fayet at the Théâtre de Paris).


he has to his credit nearly forty productions between 1949 (“Les Voyous”) and 2010 (The Seznec Affair “and” Dominici: a pitiless trial) through “Crime and Punishment”, “Mice and men “or” Cyrano de Bergerac “.

Theater director

In 1970, he created in Reims his “popular theater” and a school from which Anémone and Isabelle Adjani left.

The key to his success was to make “theater as well as cinema; he made it his slogan, mixing lights, music, classical texts and great feelings.

After 8 years and 17 creations, Reims was recognized nationally and obtained a number of grants, but the artist decided to move on.

Robert Hossein was also artistic director of the Marigny theater from 2000 to 2008, in the 8th arrondissement of Paris.

Interactive shows

Between 1975 and 2011, he added to his activities the assembly of large interactive shows (nearly 25) at the Palais des sports or at the Palais des congrès (“Le Cuirassé Potemkine,” “Notre-Dame-de-Paris”, “Je m ‘called Marie-Antoinette “,” Jesus was her name, Ben-Hur, ..).

The theme is historical and he collaborates with Alain Decaux to portray the characters, in order to touch the hearts of the spectators.

At the end of each show, the public was asked to vote; this interactive way made him a record holder for admissions reaching 700,000 spectators.

Awards and Decorations

Robert Hossein has received numerous distinctions for his work and his career:

Honorary Molière (1995)
Medal of the City of Paris, grand vermeil echelon (2000)


Commander of the Legion of Honor (2006); officer (2000); knight (1990).
Grand Officer of the National Order of Merit (2019); commander (1994); officer (1986); knight.
Commander of the Order of Cultural Merit (2006)
Religious commitments

Friend of the chaplain of the popular theater of Reims, he is interested in Catholicism while his Russian Jewish mother is Orthodox and his Azeri father, Zoroastrian.

In the 1970s, at almost 50, he decided to change his religion, he became a Catholic and was baptized at the same time as his son Julien.

This new faith will influence him in the choice of his creations: “A man named Jesus” (1983), “Jesus was his name” (1991), “Jesus, the resurrection” (2000), “Do not be afraid” , a play on the life of John Paul II (2007), “A woman named Mary” (2011 at the sanctuaries of Lourdes). He also devotes a particular devotion to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

In April 2016, he was received by Pope Francis in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome. He then confided to Vatican Radio his “motivation for the defense of a popular theater which enables young people to find perspectives of culture, meaning and faith”.

Private life

Robert Hossein has been married 3 times:

  • Marina Vlady with whom he had 2 sons Pierre and Igor. She also shared the screen with her husband.
  • Caroline Eliacheff, daughter of Françoise Giroux, who married in 1962, when she was only 15 years old. From this union, a son was born who became a rabbi in Strasbourg. The union will last only 2 years and Caroline will become a doctor of medicine then a psychoanalyst. She will also write scripts for Claude Chabrol.
  • Candice Patou whom he met in 1975 and married in 1976 They have a son Julien and will live together for 40 years until December 31, 2020, date of his death.

Other women shared the actor’s life:

  • Marie-France Pisier whom he met in 1964
  • Pascale Rivault who owes her debut in cinema and theater since their meeting in 1970.
  • Michèle Watrin, student of her course in Reims. Unfortunately, she died in 1974 in a car accident after a year of affair. She was only 24 years old.


On December 31, 2020, Robert Hossein died at the age of 93, the day after his birthday. Hospitalized for respiratory problems. He is said to have died from the coronavirus.


Since the announcement of Robert Hossein’s death, tributes have multiplied:

  • Stéphane Bern: “We will miss him” .. “Sad and saddened to learn on this last day of 2020 of the disappearance of Robert Hossein, whose ardor and enthusiasm I loved, his passion for spectacle and history . “
  • Pierre Lescure: “He gave birth to so many strong feelings in all of us!”
  • Brigitte Bardot: “May my marvelous warrior rest in peace” … “With Robert Hossein, a whole generation of talent and elegance disappears forever. He had Slavic charm, talent as an actor and of director who splashed the theater and the cinema “.
  • Isabelle Adjani: “Here he is symbolically absent on the last day of this pathetic year 2020. Peace to his Slavic soul!”
  • Jean-Paul Belmondo: “For many years, I appreciated his kindness and his tireless creative spirit always on the alert”. “He was pushing all boundaries all the time.”
  • Mario Luraschi, friend and equestrian trainer: “Today, I lose a friend, a father …”
  • Philippe Torreton: “He wanted to go to big shows towards big places”.
  • Gilles Jacob, former president of the Cannes Film Festival: “He was an actor, author, director, he was the prince of popular theater, his successes are not counted, he had a charming smile, a velvet eye, a nice voice”.


  • Jack Lang, former Minister of Culture, deplores “the loss of this giant of the cinema” …. “What I liked a lot about this man was this total, full, whole, generous commitment in this profession” .
  • Anne Hidalgo: “He will have known how to democratize culture and bring thousands of spectators to theaters”.
  • Marine Le Pen: “Robert Hossein was a director full of energy, with disproportionate, mystical shows, and one of the most popular figures of our cinema. He was also, of course, the eternal Joffrey de Peyrac French culture is losing one of its great representatives “.

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