For the centenary of Jean Richard, his village of Oise renames the municipal school in his name

In 1965, the actor embarked on the circus by installing, in Ermenonville, a tent made of wood and canvas. The start of a great adventure

On Saturday June 26, the village of Ermenonville, in the Oise, will celebrate the one to whom it owes a share of fame: Jean Richard. On the occasion of the centenary of his birth, a plaque will be unveiled on the facade of the Moulin du Soleil, the house where he lived until his death on December 12, 2001. A few minutes later, his name will be officially given to the primary school which, until then, was called the forest school.

In the presence of the actor’s daughter, the mayor will finally inaugurate a monumental fresco in the courtyard of the establishment. Directed by a Russian painter, Elena Zaïka, it evokes the career of an actor who, in the collective memory, remains the first to have played the commissioner Maigret on television. Between 1967 and 1990, he conducted 88 surveys, adapted from the novels of Georges Simenon. The author thanked him by welcoming him to his home in Switzerland and offering him one of his pipes.

“His posterity should not be limited to this role which was only a step”, assure Jean Arnaud, Pierre Fenouillet and Vincent Bouderlique, at the origin of this tribute day. Jean Richard appears in the credits of 89 films. He performed 16 plays, and four operettas, among which The Polka of lanterns, with Georges Guétary. The duo were sold out at Châtelet for three years. He also made the beautiful evenings of the cabarets of the 1950s, with monologues, where he played Claudius Binoche, a peasant from a fictitious village called Champignol.

The circus, Jean Richard’s childhood dream

“But above all, there is this passion for the circus that we share”, adds the trio who have devoted months to the preparation of a day tribute to the one who devoted a large part of his life to making his childhood dreams come true and, in particular, his passion for the circus.

The adventure began in 1965 in Ermenonville, where Jean Richard set up a tent made of wood and canvas, where many television programs were to be filmed. In 1969, he joined forces with the Gruss, one of the most famous families on the “piste aux étoiles”, and created Le Cirque Jean Richard. He learns all the secrets of the trade, before breaking the bank in 1972 to buy Pinder on the verge of bankruptcy. The success was such that in 1976, he invested in another tent which he called Le Nouveau Cirque Jean Richard.

These three long itinerant convoys allow him to be at the head of “The largest entertainment company in Europe”. Finally, it opened in Paris at the Villette Le Nouvel Hippodrome de Paris, which, between 1975 and 1982, offered circus shows, boxing matches and concerts. This is where the Zénith de Paris is located today. The adventure ends in 1983. Ten years earlier, Jean Richard was the victim of a serious car accident which immobilized him for nearly a year. He had to reduce his activities. The mandatory delegation of the companies he headed led him to inevitably file for bankruptcy.

Companies of this time, remain a zoo, baptized in 1956 by Michèle Morgan and Madeleine Robinson, but especially La mer de sable, of which Jean Richard made the first theme park in France. Inaugurated in 1963 by Maurice Chevalier and Marcel Achard, it immediately sold out thanks to the first of a long series of attractions: the attack on a train by Indians in the days of the Far West. The ideal symbol for an adventure that is always on the rails.

Jean Richard or the passion for the circus: “I always wanted to have a circus”


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