Henri Verneuil (Henri Verneuil)

Henri Verneuil

Henri Verneuil was born Ashot Malakian (Armenian: Աշոտ Մալաքեան) to Armenian parents in Rodosto, East Thrace, Turkey. In 1924, when Ashot was a little child his family fled to Marseille in France, to escape persecution after the Armenian Genocide. He later recounted his childhood experience in the novel Mayrig, which he dedicated to his mother and made into a 1991 film with the same name, which was followed by a sequel, 588 Rue Paradis, the following year. Verneuil entered the Ecole Nationale d’Arts et Metiers in Aix-en-Provence in 1942. After graduation, he worked as a journalist, then became editor of Horizon Armenian magazine. In 1947, Henri Verneuil managed to convince the established European film actor Fernandel to appear in his first film. In 1951 he directed his first feature, the black comedy La Table Aux Crevés. His second film, Forbidden Fruit (1952), based on a Georges Simenon novel, was even more acclaimed. Later he also directed other movie stars including Jean Gabin, Alain Delon, Lino Ventura (all together acting for him in “Le clan des siciliens” in 1969[6]), Jean-Paul Belmondo (“Le Corps de mon ennemi” in 1976 and other films), Omar Sharif, Claudia Cardinale (Mayrig), Yves Montand and Michèle Morgan. Verneuil has filmed almost all the great figures of French cinema, with the exception of Bourvil, as even Louis de Funes has a small role in one of his films. After the American experience (he was called the “most American of French directors”), in 1969 Henri Verneuil “found” France. He was awarded a César in 1996 and he was elected a member of the Academy of Fine Arts in 2000. He died at Bagnolet, a suburb of Paris, in 2002. The opening of the seventh annual Golden Apricot International Film Festival in Yerevan paid tribute to Verneuil. His son, television director Patrick Malakian, who reclaimed the name of his historical ancestors, received the posthumous award, the Parajanov’s Thaler, for his father’s contribution to cinema.

More Images

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  • October, 15, 1920
  • Rodosto, Ottoman Turkey


  • January, 11, 2002
  • Bagnolet, Seine-Saint-Denis


  • Cimetière Saint-Pierre
  • Marseille, France

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