Partner Jean Cocteau, George Reich
Lycée Condorcet, 8 Rue du Havre, 75009 Paris, Francia
Cimetière de Vallauris
Jean-Alfred Villain-Marais, also known as Jean Marais (11 December 1913 – 8 November 1998), was a French actor, writer, director and sculptor. He performed in over 100 films and was the muse of acclaimed director Jean Cocteau. In 1996, he was awarded the French Legion of Honor for his contributions to French Cinema. The last King of Italy, Umberto II, is said to have numbered among his lovers Luchino Visconti, Jean Marais and the boxer Primo Carnera.
A native of Cherbourg, France, Marais was a son of Alfred Emmanuel Victor Paul Villain-Marais and his wife, the former Aline Marie Louise Vassord.
In 1933, Marais was discovered by filmmaker Marcel L'Herbier, who purchased one of his paintings, then cast him in two films, L'Épervier and L'Aventurier. Marais starred in several movies directed by Jean Cocteau, for a time his lover and a lifelong friend, most famously Beauty and the Beast (1946) and Orphée (1949).
During the post-WWII period, the French theatre was dominated by Jean Cocteau's circle, including the stage designer Christian Bérard and the actor Jean Marais; the bisexual Gérard Philipe was everyone's favorite leading man. The foremost members of the Comedic Francaise, such as Jean Weber and Jacques Charon, were familiar faces at gay salons. Julien Green's monumental Sud (South, 1953) clothed his doomed love story in Civil War garb and veiled suggestion; the agony of unrequited affection went even deeper in Henry de Montherlant's La Ville dont le Prince en un Enfant (The City Whose Prince Is a Child, 1951), set in a Catholic school where an obsessive priest roots out the special friendships of the students. Typically, the secretive and suicidal Montherlant considered it unsuitable for public performance by boys.
In the 1950s, Marais became a star of swashbuckling pictures, enjoying great box office popularity in France. He performed his own stunts. In the 1960s, he played both the famed villain and the hero of the Fantômas trilogy. In 1963, he was a member of the jury at the 3rd Moscow International Film Festival.
After 1970, Marais's on-screen performances became few and far between, as he preferred concentrating on his stage work. He performed on stage until his eighties, also working as a sculptor. His sculpture Le passe muraille (The Walker Through Walls) can be seen in the Montmartre Quarter of Paris.
by Carl Van Vechten
Jean Marais (1913-98) Actor Paris, 10 May 1946 Vintage print Vogue, The Condé Nast Publications Ltd
Jean Marais by Jean Boullet
In 1985, he was the head of the jury at the 35th Berlin International Film Festival. He was featured in the 1995 documentary Screening at the Majestic, which is included on the 2003 DVD release of the restored print of Beauty and the Beast. Marais appears on the cover sleeve of The Smiths single "This Charming Man".
He was married for two years to the actress Mila Parély, with whom he later performed in Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast.
Marais, who was bisexual, was the muse and lover of Jean Cocteau until Cocteau's death. After Cocteau's death, Marais wrote a memoir of Cocteau, L'Inconcevable Jean Cocteau, attributing authorship to "Cocteau-Marais". He also wrote an autobiography, L'Histoire de ma vie, published in 1975. From 1953 until 1959, his companion was the American dancer George Reich.
In the early 1960s, Marais adopted a young man, Serge Ayala, who eventually took the name Serge Villain-Marais. This adopted son, who became a singer and an actor, committed suicide in 2012 at age 69.
Marais died from cardiovascular disease in Cannes, Alpes-Maritimes, in 1998. He is interred in the Village cemetery at Vallauris, near Antibes.
His life story became the inspiration for the 1980 François Truffaut film The Last Metro.
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