Michael Sarrazin
Sarrazin in a publicity photo for Sometimes a Great Notion, 1970
Jacques Michel André Sarrazin

(1940-05-22)May 22, 1940
DiedApril 17, 2011(2011-04-17) (aged 70)
Years active1964–2010
Partner(s)Jacqueline Bisset

Michael Sarrazin (May 22, 1940 – April 17, 2011)[1] was a Canadian actor. His most notable film was They Shoot Horses, Don't They?.[2]

Early life

Sarrazin was born Jacques Michel André Sarrazin in Quebec City, Quebec, and moved to Montreal as a child. After acting in school plays, he landed his first professional role at age 17.[3]


Sarrazin worked on television productions in Toronto such as Festival and Wojeck.[3] He then gained a contract with MCA Universal. His early appearances include episodes of The Virginian (1965) and Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre as well as the TV film The Doomsday Flight (1966) and the feature Gunfight in Abilene (1967).

20th Century Fox borrowed him for the lead role in The Flim-Flam Man (1967), co-starring George C. Scott and Sue Lyon. Universal then cast him with Anthony Franciosa in A Man Called Gannon (1968) and with James Caan in Journey to Shiloh (1968). Fox asked him back to star in The Sweet Ride (1968) alongside Jacqueline Bisset, who became his real-life girlfriend for the next several years.

Sarrazin appeared in some thrillers for Universal such as Eye of the Cat (1969) with Gayle Hunnicutt and Eleanor Parker and In Search of Gregory (1969) with Julie Christie and John Hurt. He was originally cast to play Joe Buck in Midnight Cowboy (1969), but he was unable to gain release from a prior contract and the part went to Jon Voight.[4] He was announced for the male lead in Cover Me Babe, but was replaced by Robert Forster.[5]

Sarrazin's breakthrough role was in the dark Great Depression drama They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969). The Sydney Pollack film earned nine Oscar nominations. Sarrazin starred alongside Jane Fonda, Susannah York, Gig Young, Red Buttons, Bonnie Bedelia and Bruce Dern.

He starred in the youth dramas The Pursuit of Happiness (1971) with Barbara Hershey and Believe in Me (1971) with Bisset. He supported Henry Fonda and Paul Newman in Sometimes a Great Notion (1970), then did The Groundstar Conspiracy (1972) at Universal.

Sarrazin supported James Coburn in Harry in Your Pocket (1973) and received excellent reviews for the television film Frankenstein: The True Story (1973). He appeared as Barbra Streisand's husband in the screwball comedy For Pete's Sake (1974). He then starred with Margot Kidder and Jennifer O'Neill in The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975), about a man doomed to die the same kind of death twice.

Sarrazin went to Europe to star opposite Ursula Andress in the sex comedy The Loves and Times of Scaramouche (1976). He starred in The Gumball Rally (1976), then had lead roles in the Iran-shot film Caravans (1978), the Canadian mystery thriller Double Negative (1980), and the vigilante crime drama Fighting Back (1982). He hosted the April 15, 1978 episode of Saturday Night Live.

Sarrazin increasingly shifted to television work. He starred in Beulah Land (1980) and The Seduction (1982) and had a support part in Fighting Back (1982). He also appeared in Joshua Then and Now (1985), the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Quickening" (1996) and The Outer Limits episodes "I Hear You Calling" (1996) and "The Other Side" (1999).

Personal life

For seven years (1967–1974), Sarrazin was in a relationship with actress Jacqueline Bisset, whom he met while making The Sweet Ride (1968). He had two children from a previous relationship.[6]


Sarrazin died of mesothelioma on April 17, 2011, aged 70, in his hometown of Montreal. According to a family spokesman, his daughters Catherine and Michele were at his side when he died.[1]


Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Production Result
1968 Laurel Award Male New Face 4th place
1969 Golden Globe New Star of the Year – Actor The Sweet Ride Nominated
1971 BAFTA Film Award Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Nominated
1999 Gemini Award Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Series The City (for episode #1.12: "Deranged Marriages") Nominated

See also


  1. ^ a b Actor Michael Sarrazin dies at 70. CBC News, April 18, 2011. Retrieved April 18, 2011.
  2. ^ "Movies". The New York Times. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  3. ^ a b The Times Obituary p. 67, April 20, 2011.
  4. ^ "Michael Sarrazin". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  5. ^ "Movie Call Sheet". Los Angeles Times. April 3, 1969.
  6. ^ "Jacqueline Bisset interview". August 17, 2014. My first relationship the man had two children and he hadn't married her so I thought if he hasn't married that woman he's not going to marry me.