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Jean-Pierre Cassel.

Dapper all-around entertainer Jean-Pierre Cassel, whose five decades in show business encompassed well over 100 films and some 50 plays, died of cancer April 19 in Paris. He was 74.

Cassel appeared in films including "Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?" and Robert Altman's "Pret-a-Porter."

Born in Paris as Jean-Pierre Crochon, he attended acting classes at the Cours Simon, eventually opting for the stage name Cassel.

An accomplished tap dancer, Cassel was befriended by Gene Kelly who east him as an extra in 1957's "The Happy Road." Cassel made his name in light comedy, working on many occasions with director Philippe De Broca, whose "The Lovers" put the insouciant young man on the map.

Cassel also excelled in more serious fare with wry touches, including Jean Renoir's "The Elusive Corporal," Luis Bunuel's "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" and Claude Chabrol's "A Judgment in Stone."

He had a prominent role in Jean-Pierre Melville's French Resistance drama "Army of Shadows," distributed to great acclaim in the U.S. last year, 37 years after the fact.

Like his son Vincent after him, Cassel also made his mark in English, playing Louis XIII in Richard Lester's irreverent "The Three Musketeers" and "The Four Musketeers," in addition to roles in "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines," and "Is Paris Burning?"

He also played Dr. Paul Gachet of Van Gogh portrait fame in Altman's "Vincent and Theo."

Father and son appeared together in Mathieu Kassovitz's 2000 hit "The Crimson Rivers."

Cassel will be seen as a clergyman in Julian Schnabel's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," in competition in Cannes next month. He will also be seen as comic book staple Panoramix when megaproduction "Asterix at the Olympic Games" is released in early 2008.

Survivors include three children: actor Vincent, rap musician Mathias and actress Cecile.

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Title Annotation:THESPS
Author:Nesselson, Lisa
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Apr 30, 2007
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