Born May 6, 1915, deceased November 16, 1993.
He was a French clown, an artist and circus operator, born in La Goulette, Tunisia. The son of Federico Zavatta, a circus owner from a family of Italian fairground artists, his mother was Emma Tholomet, and both of Alfonso’s (known as Achille) parents began their careers as artists working in variety as well as the circus. Achille started his performing career with his family’s circus, along with his brothers Rodolphe and Michel, they were called the Zavatta Trio. Rodolphe Zavatta (1906-1998), was initially an outfielder who turned clown after a flying trapeze accident. Achille became famous for his skill as a pantomime, this was combined with his skills in acrobatics, trapeze, equestrian display, taming and as a musician playing the trumpet, the saxophone and the drum.
He was first married in 1934 to Julia Moore, their children were Lydia (1938), William (1940), Willie (1943). His Grandchild Warren Zavatta, the son of Willie was a well-known comedian, who created a show about his childhood and his relationship with his grandfather. Achille married for a second time, in 1957, to Monique Revenas with whom he had one child Eric (1969). He married for a third and final time in 1974 to Annick Tretout. Franck (1975) was their only child.
After having an early start in showbiz during 1918 at the age of three with the Trio Zavatta. He quickly became well known for his clown number Auguste and his participation in various pantomimes (La Perle du Bengal, directed by Géo Sandry), it was at Cirque d’Hiver-Bouglione in the 1930s that he finally accessed fame. The character of Augustusis with his trademark: red nose, hat and watering flowers was for several generations, one of the most famous clowns in Europe. Achille was also the author of ‘30 years of Circus’ (1954) and ‘Viva Zavatta’ (1976).
From 1947 to 1951, he directed a big tent, the Bostok Circus then Zoo Circus.
In 1953, Achille Zavatta turned out under the sign of Super Circus and also performed in the show of Tino Rossi. In 1960, he appeared on the TV show La Piste aux étoiles; where he appeared more than two hundred times in total. Also in 1960, he was the star of the French circus and toured in Russia with the producer Lumbroso.
In 1967, he was the star of the Grüss-Jeannet circus (Alexis Grüss Sr., André Grüss and Lucien Jeannet), which took the name “Circorama Achille Zavatta” that year. The following year, again with the logistics of Grüss-Jeannet, he continued to lend his talent to the new program under the name of Jean Richard. In 1972, he toured France with the Cirque Pinder-Jean Richard. Then in 1978, he created his own traditional circus, Cirque Zavatta, this ran until 1985 when he abandoned touring and began to rent out his tent, which quickly went bust. His youngest son, Franck, takes up the torch by creating Cirque Zavatta Fils.
Viva Zavatta! Viva Mexico! are the last big shows presented in Paris, December 1990. Achille Zavatta subsequently went bankrupt in 1991. He resigned in 1992 to sell his business to Bernard Mazelier, a real estate agent in Cahors.
Along with his spectacular circus career Achille also appeared in a number of films, including Claude Autant-Lara’s La Jument Verte (1959), Georges Combret’s La Malédiction de Belphégor (1967), Visa pour l’enfer (1959), A Luncheon of Love (1953), Blood under the big top (1957), The Great Mafia (1971), The Fire of God (1966), Nothing goes (1964). He also played in 1961 in the television series Le Trésor des 13 maisons .
Sadly no longer able to support life on dialysis, he committed suicide on November 16, 1993 in Ouzouer-des-Champs near Montargis (Loiret). He rests in the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris (columbarium, box 1918).
1950 : Over the waves of Pierre Gautherin , in the skit: “Les beaux Jeudis”
1955 : Elena and men of Jean Renoir – Just an appearance –
1956 : Blood under the capital of Georges Péclet – Boniface
1956 : Keystone of Carol Reed – He plays himself –
1958 : Visa for the hell of Alfred Rode – Gypsy
1959 : The Green Mare of Claude Autant-Lara – Déodat, the postman
1959 : Match against the death of Claude Bernard-Aubert – The clown
1963 : Nothing goes better than Jean Bacqué
1967 : The Fire of God by Georges Combret – Pierre
1967 : The Curse of Belphegor by Jean Maley and Georges Combret – Hubert
1971 : The Great Maffia … by Philippe Clair – The father