Alice Sapritch (her name was originally spelled Sapric, the Turkish spelling of the Armenian word saprich/սափրիչ “barber”), was a French actress of Armenian origin with a forty-year career in cinema, theater, and television.
was born in the Istanbul district of Ortaköy on July 29, 1916, and had a
childhood that she qualified as unhappy. Her family had serious
financial problems due to the gambling debts of her father. She
abandoned Turkey at the age of thirteen with her family and continued
her studies in Brussels before moving alone to Paris. She entered the
Cours Simon, one of the oldest courses of theatrical formation for
professional comedians, and then the Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique. Her
theatrical career, mostly in dramatic and tragic roles, would span over thirty-five years (1949-1984).
the end of the German occupation, she met writer and actor Guillaume
Hanoteau, whom she married in 1950. The same year marked her debut in
the movies with Le tampon du capiston (The Captain’s Buffer), on a
script written by her husband. For the next thirty-five years she would
appear in some 40 movies, including François Truffaut’s Tirez sur le pianist (Shoot
the Pianist, 1960), where she played along Charles Aznavour. In the
1960s she had remarkable roles in several TV adaptations of novels by
French authors like Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly, Honoré de Balzac, and
François Mauriac. She divorced in 1970, and her great breakout came a
year later, at the age of 55, when she made a lasting impression with
two roles, one comic and the other tragic, in the feature movie La folie des grandeurs (Delusions of Grandeur), along with two great actors, Yves Montand and Louis de Funès, and the TV movie Vipère au poing. However, throughout the 1970s, she took roles in a series of French-style comedies qualified with the colloquial word nanar (movies
that were so bad that they were good). She mostly abandoned this genre
in the last years of her career and returned to dramatic roles in André
Téchiné’s Les Soeurs Brontë (The Bronte Sisters, 1979), as well as in a TV film, L’affaire Marie Besnard (The
Affair Marie Besnard, 1986), which earned her the prize “7 d’or” for
best fiction comedian. Her last role in cinema was in an American film,
Amy Heckerling’s National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985).
played her first and last role in TV films as Catherine de Médicis
(queen of France in the sixteenth century), both in 1961 and in 1989.
She wrote many autobiographical works (Alice, My Dinners in the City, Public Woman: My truth, and Unfinished Memoirs) and a novel (An Endangered Love, 1973), all in French.
remained quite close to the French Armenian community, and participated
in many of their gatherings. A year before her death, her life was the
subject of a documentary, Le passé retrouvé: Alice Sapritch (The
Past Retrieved: Alice Sapritch), by Mireille Dumas (1989). She passed
away in Paris on March 24, 1990, and was cremated in the cemetery of
Père-Lachaise, in Paris, with her ashes being spread over the Seine