September 15, 1894
Montmartre, Paris, France
February 12, 1979
Hollywood, California, United States
Director, Screenwriter, Actor, Producer, Art gallery proprietor, Author, Playwright, Teacher (University of California at Berkeley), Craftsman
Marguerite Houlet Renoir, Dido Freire
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Born and raised in France at the turn of the 20th century, Jean Renoir grew up in a world where film was in its infancy. His early years involved living a mostly extravagant life thanks to the mainstream success of his father the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir. When he came of age, he served in the French military in World War I and when he returned from the war, he tried to figure out the next phase of his life. That turned out to be film. In 1924, he wrote and directed his debut - the silent film "Backbiters" (1924). It wasn't all that successful, but Renoir kept working on his craft. Over the next decade, he kept making films, including his first work with sound, "On Purge Bebe" (1931), an adaptation of "Madame Bovary" (1934), and the ahead-of-its-time "The Crime of Monsieur Lange" (1936). Renoir's work broke into the international scene with the war drama "La Grande Illusion" (1937), which netted him notoriety in Hollywood. He continued to make movies in Europe until World War II began and he left to make his way to California. "Swamp Water" (1941) was his first American film, though it wasn't as well received. Over the years, he grew more comfortable making films in the States, critically peaking with "The Southerner" (1945), which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Director. In 1951, Renoir began to dabble in color, making "The River" (1951), "The Golden Coach" (1953), "Elena and Her Men" (1956), and many more. His last directorial effort was a trio of short films that were compiled into "The Little Theatre of Jean Renoir" (1969). In 1975, he received a lifetime achievement award at the Academy Awards. He passed away following a heart attack in 1979 at the age of 84.