Jean-Paul Vignon, French Actor and Singer, Dies at 89

Jean-Paul Vignon, a French actor and vocalist who frequently lent his Gallic accent to Hollywood productions, died of liver cancer on March 22 in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 89.

Among his notable work, Vignon lent his voice to Marc Webb’s romantic comedy “(500) Days of Summer” as the French narrator. His voice appears when the lovelorn Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) goes to the movies by himself after Summer (Zoey Descanel) breaks up with him, only to fall asleep and dream of a black-and-white French film that speaks to his “suffering.”

Vignon voiced one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men in the first “Shrek” film, part of a group of antagonists encountered by Shrek, Fiona and Donkey along their journey to Duloc. He also voiced the character Gena in the animated feature “The Adventures of Cheburashka and Friends,” which features the titular Russian cartoon character.

Among his other acting credits, Vignon also appeared as Andre in “Gilmore Girls” and as Monsieur Lazare in “Days of Our Lives.”

Vignon began his artistic career as a musician in France. He performed as part of a cabaret in Paris and in the 1950s starred in the French films “Les Promesses Dangereuses” and “Asphalte.” He was signed as a vocalist to the French imprint Disques Vogue. He recorded the autobiographical song “Djibouti” and at one point opened for Edith Piaf.

Vignon soon took his talents to the United States. He made multiple appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” singing a duet with Liza Minnelli on one of those occasions. He was also a regular guest on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” as well as Merv Griffin’s daytime show. Among his endeavors in music and acting, Vignon went on to release his U.S. album “Because I Love You” and played a supporting role in the World War II film “The Devil’s Brigade.” He also hosted the Canadian show “The Sensuous Man,” produced by Dick Clark.

Vignon was born on Jan. 30, 1935, in the port city of Dire-Daoua and was raised in Avignon, France. He is survived by Suzie Summers, his longtime partner; his daughter Marguerite Vignon Gaul and granddaughters Leah and Hannah from his marriage to the late actress Brigid Bazlen; and his daughter Lucy Brank.

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