Veteran actor André Maranne, best known for playing Sgt. François Chevalier in the Pink Panther movies, has sadly passed away. The Times of London reports that the actor died on April 12, though the news of his passing is just recently making the rounds in the press. He was 94 years old.
As Sgt. François Chevalier, Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus’ (Herbert Lom) assistant, Maranne first appeared in his most famous role in A Shot in the Dark (1964). He’d wind up reprising the role in five Pink Panther movies over the next two decades: The Return of the Pink Panther (1975), the Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978), Trail of the Pink Panther (1982), and Curse of the Pink Panther (1983).
Before his work in the Pink Panther movies, Maranne played a French officer in The War Lover (1962). He also appeared in the classic James Bond movie Thunderball in 1965 as a SPECTRE senior member. Acting frequently from the 60s through the 80s, Maranne has also appeared in movies like The Battle of Britain, The Razor’s Edge, Rise and Fall of Idi Amin, and Morons from Outer Space. One of his final roles was in the 1985 drama Plenty opposite Meryl Streep, Ian McKellen, Charles Dance, Sam Neill, Sting, and Tracey Ullman.
Maranne is also well remembered for his role in a 1975 episode of Fawlty Towers. In the episode, titled “Gourmet Night,” Maranne plays a restaurant owner named André. The actor also played Moonbase physicist Roger Benoit on the popular sci-fi series Doctor Who and served as a presenter on the BBC language program Bonjour Françoise. His other small screen credits include La Chasse au Trésor, Scotland Yard, Jason King, and Yes Minister.
“R.I.P. André Maranne,” one fan said in response to the news, posting a clip of Maranne and Peter Sellers. “He’s in one of my all time favorite Pink Panther scenes. The way he doesn’t really react to the pull down, Seller’s wave off, it just all cracks me up every single time.”
Another fan writes: “Really sorry to read of the death of André Maranne who appeared in the Pink Panther films, Yes Minister and – unforgettably – as the French chef in Fawlty Towers.”
“The late André Maranne will of course never be forgotten thanks to his role as restaurateur Andre in #FawltyTowers: “Gourmet Night” (1975),” agrees another fan.
Born in 1926, Maranne grew up in Paris. After working in a printing workshop and a shoe shop, the aspiring actor began taking acting classes at the age of 18. He caught his break when he falsely told an agent he knew how to ride a motorcycle in order to secure a movie role. Fortunately, the scene was cut before Maranne had to reveal he didn’t really know what he was doing, but the situation opened the door for the actor to start picking up other roles. His acting career would quickly blossom from there, though he retired from the screen in the early 1990s.
Maranne’s survivors include his wife, Moira, and our thoughts go out to her and the rest of the family and friends at this difficult time. May he rest in peace. This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.