Death of Jean Panisse, actor with the formidable Marseillaise spirit

The actor, born in Marseille in 1928, died of Covid-19 at the age of 92 on the night of December 31 to January 1. It had been discovered by Marcel Pagnol in 1952.

It was enough to listen to his beautiful accent of Marseille to think that we were walking on the Canebière or in the garrigues of Provence. Jean Panisse, the actor who played a stormy peasant in the original version of Manon des Sources (1952) by Marcel Pagnol, died on the night of December 31 to January 1. He was 92 years old.

According to our colleagues from France 3 Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, the Marseille actor died in the retirement home of the Marseille city where he lived. A few days earlier, he had been admitted to the hospital run by Professor Raoult, after having tested positive for Covid-19.

The ease, the good-naturedness, the humor, even his surname which recalled the legendary card game of Raimu and his friends at the Bar de la Marine, everything at Jean Panisse evoked Marseille where he was born on March 17, 1928.

Marseillais par excellence

His career began precisely with a master stroke. In 1952 Marcel Pagnol had the happy idea of ​​entrusting him with the role of Eliacin, a peasant as colorful as he was obstinate, who “wants his water because he paid for it”. The scene where he belches with rage in front of Raymond Pellegrin and Fernand Sardou, who try to make him right, is a small masterpiece of composition.

From now on this talented actor will become an indispensable supporting role who will benefit from his verve no less than fifty films. In Let’s not get angry (1966), Georges Lautner entrusted him with an earthy character of receiver of “guns”, which Jean Panisse once again knew how to make unforgettable.

Several times also, he gave the reply to Louis de Funès. A first time in The Gendarme of Saint-Tropez (1964), where he plays an unlucky restaurateur and then in Perched on a tree (1971) in which he perfectly wears a brigadier’s dress. Jean Panisse will also have played twice alongside Jean-Paul Belmondo: in The Rio Man in 1964 and of course in Borsalino by Jacques Deray, who told the story of the two great Marseille thugs.

Mayrig by Henri Verneuil in 1991 was his last film. The screenplay recounted the arrival and life of an Armenian family in Marseille. Marseille … the great passion of Jean Panisse.

“I want my water” , the famous scene of Jean Panisse alias the peasant Eliacim in Manon des Sources by Marcel Pagnol in 1952


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