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Jean-Pierre Cassel, 74; actor, dancer likened to Astaire

PARIS -- Jean-Pierre Cassel, a celebrated French actor whose skills as a tap dancer won him comparisons to Fred Astaire, died overnight Thursday, his agent said. He was 74.

His agent, Isabelle Gaudin, said Mr. Cassel died of cancer.

Born Oct. 27, 1932, in the French capital, Mr. Cassel was among France's most beloved and versatile actors and the patriarch of a dynasty of movie stars.

He rose to fame with in the 1960s with comedies such as "Les Jeux de l'Amour" (1960) and "Le Farceur" (1961), both by Philippe de Broca.

Mr. Cassel later starred in films by French directors Jean Renoir, Claude Chabrol, and Jean-Pierre Melville.

Mr. Cassel was featured in several English-language movies, including the 1965 adventure "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines" and Robert Altman's 1994 comedy "Prêt-à-Porter."

He was a singer, as well as a tap dancer, who continued performing into his 70s, giving a one-man show in Paris in 1994 featuring some of Astaire's best-known tap routines.

Two of Mr. Cassel's children are also in show business. His son Vincent Cassel is an actor married to the Italian screen siren Monica Bellucci.