Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau, 1889 - 1963

portrait of Jean Cocteau


Born: 5 July 1889, Maisons-Laffitte, Yvelines, France
Died: 11 October 1963, Milly-la-Foret, France

Born into a wealthy and prominent Parisian family, Cocteau was exposed to music, opera, painting, and literature from his early youth. When he was nine his father committed suicide and he left home at fifteen. His first volume of poetry, Alladin's Lamp was published when he was nineteen. He was known in his Bohemian artistic circle as 'The Frivolous Prince', the name of a volume published when he was 22. During World War I he served as a Red Cross ambulance driver. His world was one of great artistic energy, his friends included Coco Chanel, Marlene Dietrich, Amedeo Modigiliani, Edith Piaf, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Proust, and Erik Satie. Although he considered himself a poet and published over twenty volumes of poetry and a similar amount of poetry critique, he also wrote five novels, twenty plays, scripts for six movies and the dialogue for three more. He also directed ten films. He was addicted to opium for about five years, as related in Opium, Diary of an Addict in 1929. He never married, his known relationships were primarily with women. He died of a heart attack at his chateau, some suggest this was in response to the news that his friend Edith Piaf had died the day before.

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