Jean Renoir, one of our very favorite directors, was born 122 years ago today in Paris, France. Enjoy our 10 JR Did-You-Knows, then make it a point to watch one of Renoir’s classic pictures tonight: Grand Illusion, The Rules of the Game, La Bête Humaine or any of a dozen others.
- Renoir was a member of a very artistic family: His father was Pierre-Auguste Renoir, the Impressionist painter; his older brother Pierre was a prominent actor, and his nephew, Claude, was a successful cinematographer.
- When Jean was a small boy, his father insisted he keep his hair long (one of Auguste’s most famous paintings depicts young Jean with flowing locks), which led to him being teased by other boys. So Jean was initially relieved to be sent off to boarding school because he knew he’d be required to have his hair cut short.
- Renoir was awarded the Croix de Guerre medal while serving in World War I.
- His first artistic endeavor, undertaken at his father’s suggestion, was making ceramics, but he soon left that pursuit behind in favor of filmmaking.
- Orson Welles frequently praised Renoir as the greatest film director of all time. Charlie Chaplin made a similar pronouncement.
- Renoir frequently acted in his own films, usually playing lovable lugs.
- Renoir was married twice, with one partner, Marguerite Renoir, in between—the pair never married, but she did take his name.
- Renoir left Paris during the Nazi occupation and took up residence in Hollywood.
- In 1975, he received a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award for his contributions to the motion picture industry.
- Renoir eventually became a naturalized American citizen, but following his death, he was interred in France after being given a state funeral.
Joyeux anniversaire, Jean Renoir, wherever you may be!