Happy birthday Jean Cocteau!

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Jean Cocteau (July 5, 1889 — October 11, 1963) was a French poet, novelist, playwright, designer, and film director. His best known work is the novel Les Enfants Terribles (1929), but he also is well known for directing the films Blood of a Poet (1930), Les Parents Terribles, and Orpheus (1949).

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Cocteau was born in Maisons-Laffitte, Yvelines, France to Georges Cocteau and Eugénie Lecomte. His family was well to do in Parisian life. His father was a lawyer and painter who committed suicide when Cocteau was just nine years old.

Cocteau left home at the age of 15 for Marseille. He was later caught by police and returned to the care of his uncle. He published his first volume of poems at 19, called Aladdin's Lamp. After publishing a volume titled The Frivolous Prince at the age of 22, he became known by the title himself in artist circles.

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Cocteau had close relationships with several other artists. One was named Raymond Radiguet. The two collaborated and socialized together, and they looked out for each other's interests. Radiguet arranged for the publication of one of Cocteau's works, called La Diable du Corps.

It was following the death of Radiguet that he became addicted to opium. His most famous book, Les Enfants Terribles, was written during a week of opium weaning.

Cocteau also associated with actor Edouard de Max, Russian ballet impresario Sergey Daighilev, composer Igor Stravinsky, and later on, artist Pablo Picasso.

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Cocteau wrote plays, including, notably, La Voix Humaine (1930). In it, a woman speaks on the telephone to her lover, who is telling her that he is leaving her for another woman, though only the woman is seen or heard. His play, La Machine Infernale (1932), is considered by some to be his best.

In 1940, Cocteau wrote a play to star his good friend, singer Edith Piaf, called Le Bel Indifférent. The play garnered wide acclaim.

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Cocteau also directed films, including Blood of a Poet (1930), Les Parents Terribles (1948), Beauty and the Beast (1946), and Orpheus (1949). His most notable contribution to film was his introduction of avant garde to French cinema. He eventually became the Honorary President of the Cannes Film Festival.

Among many other honors, Cocteau was a commander in the Legion of Honor.

Cocteau was openly gay and had a long-term relationship with French actor Jean Marais.

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Saturday, 05 July 2014
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