Five words that began a charity revolution in France

Coluche in César-winning form in the gritty drama Tchao Pantin

‘I have a little idea...’ said Coluche in 1985. The much-loved comedian struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, won a César for his role in gritty drama Tchao Pantin, ran for President, founded Restos du Coeur, and soon after died in a motorbike crash

Comedian and actor Michel Colucci (1944-1986) – better known as Coluche – was famous for his trademark hairstyle, and his irreverent and often profane sense of humour.

But his lasting legacy is the Restos du Coeur homelessness charity.

Born in Paris, he and his sister were brought up by his widowed mother on her meagre wages as a florist.

Young Michel was not particularly motivated at school, acting as the class clown and making fun of the teacher.

Having left school in 1958 (aged 14) he drifted in and out trouble with the police, and tried various jobs – including waiter, delivery boy, apprentice photographer, assistant in a pharmacy, greengrocer, and florist – until in 1964 he joined the army at the age of 20.

His mother gave him a guitar for his 21st birthday, which he taught himself to play.

He quickly found that music was more to his taste than life in the army, where he was – almost predictably – jailed for insubordination.

Back in civvy street, he worked in his mother’s shop as a florist but walked out, leading to a long-lasting rift between them.

He tried his luck playing guitar and singing in cafés and managed to make something approaching a living.

More importantly, he also made a network of contacts in the entertainment business, and finally he turned ...

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