Jacques D’Azur: Who was the King of Cannes?
For many, Jacques D’Azur was Cannes. Primarily a French actor who also dabbled in producing and directing, he was a regular at the red carpet events and swimming pools of the French Riviera. A full time bon-vivant, Jacques also had a keen love of sports, being an impressive tennis player, chess master, backgammon champion and waterskiing pioneer.
Born on 13 May 1939, his mother was a Belgian actress and his father a tennis instructor to the rich and famous. The young Jacques was surrounded by the acting elite, and by the time he was 15 he could speak eight languages and play five instruments.
Jacques’ first taste of fame came in January 1959, and was a total fluke. Lounging at the infamous Carlton Hotel’s swimming pool while a film was being shot, he ended up in the background of one of the scenes. So extraordinary was his charisma that the role of “swimming pool lounging extra” landed Jacques a nomination for best supporting actor at the following year’s film festival. From that point on, his life changed forever: the paparazzi, the fans, and even his peers went wild for Jacques.
By the late 1950s, Jacques ruled Cannes. He was offered every role in every major movie going, but Jacques preferred being behind the camera and began producing instead of acting. Everything he touched turned to gold.
From the 70s onwards, Jacques’ star rose further still, although he remained relatively unknown beyond the Riviera, and his impact is only now beginning to be appreciated.
In 2010, Jacques was flying to his holiday home in Tahiti, a trip he took every year as a pre-Cannes film festival vacation. Jacques made radio contact saying he’d found an undiscovered island inhabited by beautiful women. His location was never determined and no sign of Jacques has yet been found. Despite an extensive search, that was the last anyone heard of the King of Cannes. He was 70 years old.
The film that never got made...
Below, watch two pieces of rare archive footage that give you a glimpse into the man that was the King of Cannes. Plus an understanding of his allusive planned bio-pic, that remains incomplete.
In 1974, Jacques held a press conference at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes to talk about his initial plans for a bio-pic of his life.
Whilst here, Maurice Shapiro, the world famous casting director, gives us an insight into the problems he faces finding the right actor to play Jacques: