The acclaimed French film director Henri Verneuil was born Achad Malakian at Rodosto, Turkey, in 1920. To avoid persecution, his Armenian family fled to France when he was an infant in 1924.
Verneuil began a career as a journalist before devoting his life to cinema. His first thirty or so films were shorts. He achieved the status of a popular film director in the 1950s, working on several occasions with the great comic actor Fernandel. In subsequent years he would work with other acting luminaries, including Jean Gabin, Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo.
Verneuilís cinema shows a surprising range, including outrageous comic farces and tense detective thrillers. His most successful films include Le Mouton à cinq pattes, La Vache et le prisonnier, Mélodie en sous-sol, Le Clan des Siciliens and Peur sur la ville.
Henri Verneuil died in hospital in Paris on 11 January 2002.
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