Born in Italy in 1922, Reggiani came to France with his parents at the age of eight, and after acting school was discovered by Jean Cocteau who gave him a role in his wartime theatrical production of “Les parents terribles.”
He moved into film with Marcel Carne’s 1946 “Les portes de la nuit,” and won his laurels with his interpretation of a hoodlum in love with Simone Signoret in Jacques Becker’s “Casque d’Or.” Over the next half century he appeared in some 80 films.
In 1965 he started a second career as a singer, with the help of Signoret and her husband Yves Montand. His first album was of songs based on texts by the cult writer Boris Vian.
His next album in 1967 forged his reputation, and in the 1970s he was one of the most acclaimed performers of French “chanson.” Though in his 40s, his craggy looks and bad-boy image assured him an enormous following among the young.