Actor, singer, host: Bernard Tapie was also a showman

Bernard Tapie has often been praised for his outspokenness and his talents as a juggler, which allowed him to shine in business and then in politics. A showbiz side that this grandson of a railway worker cultivates after his military service by embarking on a first musical career, in the mid-1960s.

In the middle of the yéyé period, he published a handful of 45s under the name of Bernard Tapy, pronounced “Tapaille” in the American style. “I love them all”, “Passport to the sun”, “For a laugh, for real”, “Quickly a drink”. The charming singer has conviction and a nice touch of voice. But the public ignores it.

Reconverted as a television salesman, he embarked on the takeover of companies in peril with the success that we know. It is at the chance of a conference where his charisma hits the mark that Bernard Tapie crosses paths with Claude Lelouch, at the dawn of the seventies. The filmmaker dreams of a trickster lawyer in Adventure is adventure, but the young businessman is declining. It is Aldo Maccione who will have the role and will climb the steps of the Cannes Film Festival in May 1972. But fate wanted the two men to work together, sooner or later.

In the 1980s, Bernard Tapie took over the microphone with the help of Didier Barbelivien. He sings “Réussir sa vie”, a whole program, then takes again in his sauce The blues of the businessman, the tube of the opera-rock Starmania of the duo Michel Berger-Luc Plamondon. This is the time when he made a brief career as a TV host, with his very “cash” appearances in popular shows, from “Gym Tonic” to “Champs-Élysées” via “Le Jeu de la truth”.

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In February 1986, then at the height of his notoriety, he presented “Ambitions” on TF1, a program where young entrepreneurs came to present the project to a professional jury. Live, in huge performance venues, Bernard Tapie took the opportunity to receive pop stars such as Mylène Farmer, Rod Stewart or the group Images. The show will stop a year later, when the channel is privatized. Soon, it is to the news that we will talk about him, for better or for worse.

In 1996, Bernard Tapie was forced to retrain following the corruption scandal surrounding the VA-OM match, which sent him six months behind bars. When he left, Claude Lelouch, who had not forgotten him, extended his hand to him. Ruined, in the ban on doing business and politics, he plays the main role of comedy Men, women, instructions for use. Surrounded by Fabrice Luchini and Pierre Arditi, he plays Benoît Blanc, a wealthy and unscrupulous business lawyer. “No identification with this hero“, he assures at the time in an interview with L’Express.”I could have played a dental surgeon or auto repairer.

The public is at the rendezvous, with 1.2 million admissions, but the criticism is not tender with the filmmaker and his apprentice-actor who briefly tries again at the song the time of a somewhat kitsch title with Doc Gynéco, “It’s beautiful life”. After having already delivered the recipes for its success in To win, in 1986, Bernard Tapie then took up his pen again to recount his setbacks and the experience of prison in Freely, in 1999. That year, he also presented his own radio show, To Bernard, where every morning he talks with listeners to RMC, the station’s only interactive program at the time.

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It is in 2001 that Bernard Tapie remakes the actor, taking again in the theater the role played by Jack Nicholson in Flight over a neck nest. The first of a series of pieces which meet with some success. At the same time, the ex-businessman plays on television. He plays a military doctor in Fighters by Yves Boisset on TF1, before playing Commissioner Valence in the series of the same name, from 2003 to 2008, the hero juggling his job as a cop and his life as a single father. A fiction which peaks at more than 9 million viewers. Future candidate of “The Voice”, his daughter Sophie makes an appearance.

When asked what he brought to the character, Bernard Tapie is ironic. “At the same time full of things and nothing. When he’s in action, it’s me, I’m only happy in action“, he tells the Parisian.”It was only in jail that I didn’t do anything, that’s why I was happy to get out.

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His return to business at the end of the 2000s put a brake on this reconversion which allowed him to remain at the forefront of the media scene, including through his loudmouth puppet, omnipresent in “Les Guignols de l’Info” of Canal + until 2015. In recent months, Claude Lelouch, faithful among the faithful, revealed that he wanted to give him a new role, despite his illness, in a film entitled The incredible fertility of chaos.

Bernard’s strength is to think that everything that happens to him is for his good“, confided the filmmaker last April on LCI, a few days after the assault of his old friend at his home.”Even when it’s cruel, even when things go badly, he’s in the positive. He is not afraid of fear. The only person who could scare him is himself. “A real movie character, basically.

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