Jewish comedian, humorist and musician from Algeria, Robert Castel died Saturday, December 5, at the age of 87. It is “Died at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital” (AP-HP), in Paris, following a ” long illness “, announced his family. Robert Moyal, whose real name was, was known to be the father of blackfoot humor.
He made a name for himself in particular with the play The Hernandez Family, a series of scenes from Algerian life, this piece allows the metropolis to discover the folklore and the typical expressions of the Pieds-Noirs.
The play, initially planned for fifteen performances, makes the Parisian public laugh to tears. Robert Castel will finally perform “Robert le Bègue” more than 1,700 times.
Arrived in Paris in 1962
Born on May 21, 1933 in Bab El-Oued, he is the son of Lili Labassi, one of the masters of chaabi, music with Arab-Andalusian sounds and Berber rhythms, typical of this popular district of Algiers. Robert Castel learns the tar (the traditional tambourine), the guitar, and accompanies him in his concerts.
Teacher, then musical critic after his studies of letters, he joined, in 1957, the regional center of dramatic art of Algiers, where he met two apprentice comedians, Lucette Sahuquet and Marthe Villalonga, with whom he will mount The Hernandez Family, the same year.
In 1962, he left the newly independent Algeria for good and moved to Paris with Lucette Sahuquet, whom he married. The couple inaugurates this year their sketches in duet, in particular at the Olympia where they connect the first parts of Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich and Philippe Clay.
In the 1970s, the lively and provocative comedian multiplied the television sketches with his favorite partner or even Enrico Macias.
For the big screen, this dark-haired actor, with a clear forehead, who speaks with his hands, abandons his favorite register. Mainly confined to supporting roles, he cumulates appearances, alongside Edith Piaf in The lovers of tomorrow by Marcel Blistène, by Pierre Richard in The Tall Blond with a black shoe by Yves Robert, or Isabelle Huppert in Dupont Lajoie by Yves Boisset. He turns in total in more than thirty films, until the beginning of the 2000s.
Return to the music scene in 2007
He was discreet a few years before returning to the stage, this time musical, in 2007 thanks to the project El Gusto, an orchestra of Jewish blackfoot musicians and Algerian Arabs, brought together to revive the chaâbi, which has taken a back seat behind raï and rap.
Appeared in the 1920s, this genre combines Arab-Judeo-Andalusian music, the tradition of oral poetry and Berber rhythms. It was in full swing in the years 1940-1950, in the lower Casbah, around the great synagogue, in Bab El-Oued, at the port, where Arabs, Jews, Kabyles, Maltese, Spaniards, Italians …
In 2008, Robert Castel signed his autobiography, I pose 75 [son âge], but I remember everything. He returned to the stage in 2013 to present his last one-man-show, Nostalgia. After the death of his wife in 1987, he remarried. He had no children.