French Actor Victor Lanoux, Star of 'Cousin Cousine,' Dies at 80

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Victor Lanoux with Marie-Christine Barrault in the 1975 French film 'Cousin Cousine'

The Paris native also played an antique dealer who solves crimes in his spare time on the long-running TV series 'Louis la Brocante.'

Victor Lanoux, who starred in the lovely 1975 French romantic comedy Cousin Cousine, which was nominated for three Academy Awards, has died. He was 80.

Lanoux died Thursday in a hospital in Royan, Charente-Maritime, France, his agent told the Agence France-Presse wire service.

A very popular actor in his home country, Lanoux also starred as Louis Roman, an antique dealer who works as a private detective in his spare time, on the 1998-2013 TV series Louis la Brocante.

President Francois Hollande called Lanoux a "beloved actor of the French," and Minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay said the Paris native "embodied the vitality of postwar France and this magic of cinema."

American audiences might recognize Lanoux as the thief in the Rome travel office who gives the Griswolds cash and keys to a rental car that has a hostage in the trunk in National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985).

In Cousin Cousine, Lanoux and Marie-Christine Barrault portray cousins by marriage who meet at a family wedding while their spouses are off having an affair with each other. The two become friends, decide that having a platonic relationship is useless and fall in love.

In his review, Roger Ebert said Lanoux and Barrault gave the audience "one of the most engaging and likable couples in recent movies. … They dance, they tell each other little things about themselves, and a sudden, healthy, sensual affection is born," while Vincent Canby wrote that the film "possesses a heart that is both light and generous."

The Gaumont comedy was an indie hit in the U.S. and received Oscar nominations for best foreign-language film,  actress (Barrault) and original screenplay (Daniele Thompson and Jean-Charles Tacchella, who also directed). Lanoux, meanwhile, was nominated for a Cesar Award.

Lanoux also starred opposite Jean Rochefort, Guy Bedos and Claude Brasseur in Pardon Mon Affaire (1976) and its 1977 sequel, both directed by Yves Robert, and in other notable films including L'Affaire Dominici (1973) and Adieu Poulet (1975).

Most recently, he starred as the title character on the TV series The Investigations of Commissioner Laviolette.

 

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