He was the father of modern imitation. Comedian and actor Claude Véga died on Monday April 11 in Paris at the age of 91. He was the first man to embody female celebrities on stage, crunching talent like Barbara, Callas, Jacqueline Maillan or the comedian Zouc.
“It is enough for me to think of her to transform myself into her. A detail, a lack, a way of speaking and I caught it” confided the one who was the unmissable guest on the television shows of Maritie and Gilbert Carpentier, Danièle Gilbert and Patrick Sébastien in the 1970s and 1980s.
On stage the resemblance to his “the victims“was bluffing. He slipped into the skin of his muses without aping and became a diva himself.I could only imitate the people I loved“- he called her out and said “my maillan” From where “my leaf“. Women were not his only targets: he also imitated Aznavour, De Funès, Montand and even Dutronc.
Born Claude Thibaudat on June 2, 1930 to a Parisian father and a Provençal mother, he never left the 9th arrondissement of the capital where he grew up. Under the occupation, he did the 400 strokes with his childhood friend, a certain François Truffaut.
“His mother didn’t care much for him, mine had taken a liking to him. He was a half brother, and I wanted to see if he had eaten dinner, slept, or taken refuge in a neighborhood movie theater as usual.‘ he confided to the weekly in 2012 Point. Truffaut will also offer him the role of a disturbing strangler in his film marital home (1970).
He broke off his business studies to take acting classes and worked in the cabaret at Liberty in the evenings. “I wanted to be an actor. I started imitations to survive and pay for my conservatory tuition. I was reciting La Fontaine’s Fables, eh The oak and the reed by alternating about ten voices“. Tobacco insured.
One evening Maria Callas is in the room and overhears him impersonating her. She falls in love with him immediately and wants him to come to the shows. The same applies to the actress Edwige Feuillère. Claude Véga also performs at the Bobino and opens to several great artists such as Edith Piaf, Joséphine Baker and Charles Trénet.
He, the humble and discreet man, has great success. We only swear by him. “He’s small (1m65) but he’s a giant of humor‘ writes the newspaper dusk in 1973. The following year the show’Above to Claude Vega‘ is watched by 70% of viewers. At the age of 60, in 1990, he gave up imitation to devote himself exclusively to his other passions, theater and drawing.
We find it in particular at the Comédie de Paris in Funny snack, based on texts by Boris Vian. He is also successful with Piaf, I love you At the Cirque d’hiver (1996), Qyu earned him two nominations for Molières, then for the play Sylvia, Directed by Lars Schmidt. Also endowed with a beautiful pencil line, he regularly published almanacs à la Jacques Faizant, illustrated with naive and fresh drawings.