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Thursday, 13 December, 2001, 13:42 GMT
Maigret star Richard dies
Jean Richard as Maigret
No smoke without fire: Maigret's success rate was 100%
Actor Jean Richard, famous for his portrayal of pipe-smoking detective Maigret on French television, has died at the age of 80 after a battle with cancer.

Richard founded the well-known French circus that bears his name and appeared in more than 80 films - but it is for his TV role as Commissaire Maigret that he will be remembered.

His character, adapted from Georges Simenon's novels, whose trademarks were a pipe and a hat, appeared on TV screens for more than than 20 years and 92 episodes.

Richard soon became synonymous with the grumbling but tender-hearted detective.

Jacques Chirac
"Everybody knew and liked Jean Richard"

Born on 18 April 1921, in the western town of Bessines, Richard began his working life as a caricaturist before turning to comedy and then acting.

He created the Jean Richard Circus in 1957 and the La Mer de Sable theme park, northeast of Paris, in 1963 - both of which are still owned by his family.

President Jacques Chirac paid tribute to the Maigret actor, saying he was saddened by the news.

"Everybody knew and liked Jean Richard. A showbiz personality, he brought his witty eloquence and affability to many comedy films and plays," the president said.

"As a circus man, he knew how to share his passion with the greatest number of people."

President Chirac added that he would be remembered as "the man with the pipe... such was the talented way he played the role of the fictional detective Inspector Maigret".

See also:

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05 Feb 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
French police in time warp?
05 Oct 01 | Reviews
Amelie: Your views
26 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Censors snip French shocker
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