Last updated Friday, October 31, 2014 12:19am

French director Edouard Molinaro arrives at the opening of the Deauville American Film Festival in 2009, died at age 85. December 8, 2013.― Reuters pic French director Edouard Molinaro arrives at the opening of the Deauville American Film Festival in 2009, died at age 85. December 8, 2013.― Reuters pic PARIS, Dec 8 ― French film director Edouard Molinaro, who directed the classic comedy “La Cage aux Folles,” has died in Paris aged 85.

A spokesman said he had succumbed to lung failure on Saturday while in hospital.

French President Francois Hollande hailed Molinaro as “a great, endearing and original filmmaker” who “possessed the talent for attracting a wide audience to quality films.”

His greatest box-office hit was a 1978 screen adaptation of the high-farce “La Cage aux Folles,” about a gay couple's attempt to pass themselves off as straight.

The film was remade in 1996 into the popular and Oscar-nominated Hollywood movie “The Birdcage” starring Robin Williams, Nathan Lane and Gene Hackman.

Born in Bordeaux in 1928, Molinaro became well-known for the precision of his work and for his modesty.

At the start of his career he was bracketed in the “New Wave” of French film-making of the 1950s before veering towards vaudeville and comedies starring the likes of Louis de Funes, Lino Ventura and Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel.

Funes starred in another of Molinaro's hits, “Oscar,” while Brel was the eponymous hero in the 1969 comedy “My Uncle Benjamin.”

In recent years Molinaro had concentrated more on made-for-television films and directing episodes of popular French TV series. ― AFP

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