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Jean Le Poulain; Headed Comedie Francaise

March 03, 1988

Jean Le Poulain, 63, an actor and director who headed the Comedie Francaise. Le Poulain had been a member of the Comedie Francaise since 1979 and was placed in charge in 1986. During his 40-year career in the theater, he acted in and directed dozens of plays from the classics to contemporary pieces. Le Poulain studied at the Paris Conservatory, which he left in 1949 with the first prize in acting. In 1952, he founded his own theater company, directing a variety of plays from Shakespeare to Jean Anouilh. Le Poulain was known to the public as both a buffoon and a tragedian, but he received the most acclaim for his portrayals in the plays of Moliere. After taking over the Comedie Francaise, Le Poulain gave up acting and directing, saying he wanted to concentrate on running the institution--"I am the protector of its soul." In Paris on Tuesday of an apparent heart attack.

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