JEAN COCTEAU, French writer died (b. 1889) French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, boxing manager and filmmaker. His versatile, unconventional approach and enormous output brought him international acclaim. In his early twenties, Cocteau became associated with Marcel Proust, Andre Gide, and Maurice Barrès. The Russian ballet-master Sergei Diaghilev challenged Cocteau to write for the ballet – “Astonish me,” he urged. This resulted in Parade which was produced by Diaghilev, designed by Pablo Picasso, and composed by Erik Satie in 1917.

An important exponent of Surrealism, he had great influence on the work of others, including the group of composer friends in Montparnasse known as Les Six. The word Surrealism was coined, in fact, by Guillaume Apollinaire to describe Parade, a work which was initially not well-received. In 1918 at the age of 29 he met the 15-year-old poet Raymond Radiguet. The two collaborated extensively, socialized, and undertook many journeys and vacations together. Cocteau also got him exempted from military service. In admiration of Radiguet’s great literary talent, Cocteau promoted his friend’s works in his artistic circle and also arranged for the publication by Grasset of Le Diable (a largely autobiographical story of an adulterous relationship between a married woman and a younger man), exerting his influence to garner the “Nouveau Monde” literary prize for the novel.

Cocteau is best known for Les enfants terrible the 1929 play, Les parent terribles the 1948 film, and the 1946 film, Beauty and the Beast.

Cocteau died of a heart attack at his chateau in Milly-la-Foret, only hours after hearing of the death of his friend, the French singer Edith Piaf. He is buried in the garden of his home in Milly La Foret, Essonne, France. The epitaph reads: “I stay among you.”