Jacques Cousteau - Explorers, Career and Family

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Jacques Cousteau's Personal Details

Jacques Yves Cousteau was a French naval officer, oceanographer, researcher, filmmaker, undersea explorer, author, and photographer

InformationDetail
BirthdayJune 11, 1910
Died onJune 25, 1997
NationalityFrench
FamousExplorers, Miscellaneous, Explorers
Spousesher death) Francine Triplet Cousteau (1991-1997), Simone Melchior Cousteau (1937-1990
SiblingsPierre-Antoine Cousteau
Known asJacques-Yves Cousteau AC
Childrens Diane, Jean-Michel, Philippe Cousteau, Pierre-Yves
Universities
  • École Navale
  • Collège Stanislas de Paris
Founder / Co-Founder
  • Aqua Lung/La Spirotechnique
  • EarthEcho International
  • Aqua Lung America
Discoveries / Inventions
  • Aqua-lung
Birth PlaceSaint-André-de-Cubzac
GenderMale
FatherDaniel Cousteau
MotherÉlisabeth Cousteau
Sun SignGemini
Born inSaint-André-de-Cubzac
Famous asFrench Explorer
Died at Age87

// Famous Explorers

Jacques Cousteau's photo

Who is Jacques Cousteau?

Jacques Yves Cousteau was a French naval officer, oceanographer, researcher, filmmaker, undersea explorer, author, and photographer. He was the co-inventor of diving and scuba devices such as the ‘Aqua-Lung.’ Born in France, he had moved around different countries with his parents, in his childhood. He had served the ‘French Navy’ and had received honors for his work. He was a conservationist, actively involved in the movement to prevent oceanic pollution. He was known for his extensive undersea explorations of all underwater life forms. He published several books based on his underwater research and explorations. He also invented special photographic equipment that could be used by divers. Cousteau produced a number of documentaries, films, and TV series based on his oceanographic work, the most notable being ‘The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.’ He received many awards for his films and for his service to mankind. He established the ‘Cousteau Society,’ an environmental group, which works for the conservation of oceanic life. He married twice. He had two sons from his first wife and a daughter and a son from his second wife. He died of a cardiac arrest in 1997.

// Famous Miscellaneous

Childhood & Early Years

Cousteau was born in Saint-Andre-de-Cubzan, Gironde, France, on June 11, 1910. His mother, Élisabeth Duranthon, was the daughter of a wealthy landowner, and his father, Daniel Cousteau, was a lawyer. Jacques was the younger of their two sons. His elder brother’s name was Pierre-Antoine.

During his childhood, Jacques suffered from anemia and enteritis, a stomach ailment. He learnt to swim when he was 4 years old. As a teenager, he developed a special liking for mechanical things. He had built a model of a marine crane when he was 11 years old.

In 1918, his father was appointed as a legal advisor to Eugene Higgins, a wealthy New York expatriate, and with him, the Cousteau family traveled all over Europe. During this period, the Cousteaus lived in New York for a while, where Jacques studied at the ‘Holy Name School,’ Manhattan. He learnt underwater diving at a summer camp on Vermont’s Lake Harvey.

At 13 years of age, he was sent to a boarding school in Alsace, France. After completing college, he joined the ‘French Naval Academy,’ also known as the ‘Ecole Navale,’ at Brest, France. Soon, he was posted as the second lieutenant at the naval base in Shanghai, China. In his free time, he often documented various places in China and Siberia.

He joined an aviation academy, as he wanted to be a naval pilot. He met with a near-fatal automobile accident in the year 1933, in which he almost lost both his arms. He took to swimming to rehabilitate his arms. His friend Philippe Tailliez gifted him a pair of underwater goggles. Cousteau was fascinated by the undersea world, and that was a beginning of his lifelong association with oceans and oceanic life

Career

During World War II, Cousteau was appointed as a gunnery officer, aboard the ‘Dupleix.’ This was in an area unoccupied by the Germans, and it appeared that Cousteau got the opportunity to experiment with his underwater diving and photographic equipment in his free time. However, in reality, he was using the equipment for the French resistance movement. His work later earned him the ‘Croix de Guerre.’

Cousteau realized that the standard diving gear had limitations, as the diver would remain tied to the ship and his movements would be restricted. In 1942, he, along with two colleagues, Philippe Tailliez and Frederic Dumas, filmed his first underwater movie, ‘Sixty Feet Down.’ In spite of technical limitations restricting its quality, this 18-minute film received critical acclaim at the ‘Cannes Film Festival.’

In order to overcome the technical problems and improve his devices, he began working with Émile Gagnan, an engineer, in 1937. Together, they developed a device with two tanks of compressed air, a mouthpiece, a hose, and an automatic regulator. The device provided air on demand. They patented this prototype as the ‘Aqua-Lung,’ in 1943.

Using this newly developed device, they explored a sunken British steamer, the ‘Dalton,’ and shot their second underwater movie, ‘Wreck.’ Impressed with this work, the French naval authorities commissioned Cousteau to assist in clearing mines from French harbors and helped him to continue his research. Along with Tailliez and Dumas, he formed the ‘Underwater Research Group,’ and they developed a number of devices.

Cousteau bought a converted US minesweeper, ‘Calypso,’ on July 19, 1950. Its first expedition was to the Red Sea, which resulted in a number of discoveries of unknown species of plants and animals and volcanic basins beneath the Red Sea.

The next mission to Toulon (1952) brought fame to Cousteau, as they found a wrecked Roman ship, ‘Mahdia,’ filled with treasure, near the South Coast of Grand-Congloué. This was the first underwater archaeology operation. The publication of his book, ‘The Silent World,’ immensely added to his increasing eminence.

Next, he and his team developed a “diving saucer,” or ‘DS-2,’ which was an easily navigable, small submarine. This helped in a number of studies of deep-sea life.

Calypso undertook a 13,800-mile journey in the year 1955. During this expedition, Cousteau filmed the movie version of his book ‘The Silent World.’ This 90-minute film won him awards and accolades.

In 1957, he was appointed as the director of the ‘Oceanographic Institute and Museum’ of Monaco. Through the ‘Conshelf Saturation Program,’ he demonstrated that underwater habitation was possible wherever the oceanauts could live for weeks at a time. The movie ‘World Without Sun’ was based on this project.

An hour-long TV program, ‘The World of Jacques-Yves Cousteau,’ was broadcast in 1966 and received immense acclaim. This led to the popular show, ‘The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.’ This show featured him with his sons and ran for eight seasons. The next series, the ‘Cousteau Odyssey,’ premiered in 1977 and was about the conservation of oceanic life.

A non-profit environmental group, the ‘Cousteau Society,’ was established in 1970 at Bridgeport, Connecticut. It currently boasts of over 300,000 memberships. Cousteau personally interacted with the heads of the states to restrict commercial whaling. He also campaigned against the dumping of nuclear waste in the Mediterranean Sea.

In 1980, Cousteau produced two TV programs on the greater St. Lawrence waters. This was followed by the ‘Cousteau Amazon’ series in 1984. ‘Cousteau/Mississippi: The Reluctant Ally’ won an ‘Emmy Award’ in the mid-1980s.

Other important inventions of Cousteau include the ‘Sea Spider,’ a multi-armed diagnostic device that was invented to study the biochemical composition of the ocean surface. In 1980, he and his team worked on high-tech wind sails, known as ‘Turbosails,’ which help in reducing consumption of fuel by ships on the ocean.

Major Works

Cousteau was best known for inventing the scuba device ‘Aqua-Lung,’ along with Émile Gagnan. It is a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. A lot of other inventions, such as underwater diving devices and underwater photographic equipment, are credited to his name.

‘The Silent World,’ his book based on his daily logs, was published in 22 languages and sold more than five million copies all over the world. He produced a great amount of written work, which included eight volumes of the ‘Undersea Discovery’ series and 21 volumes of the ‘Ocean World’ encyclopedia series.

Overall, he produced more than 115 TV films and 50 books. ‘The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau’ was his most-appreciated TV series. Apart from ‘The Silent World,’ some of his other well-known books are ‘The Shark: Splendid Savage of the Sea’ (1970), ‘Dolphins’ (1975), and ‘Jacques Cousteau: The Ocean World’ (1985).

Awards & Achievements

His 90-minute underwater film, based on his book ‘The Silent World,’ won him prestigious awards such as the ‘Palm d’Or’ at the 1956 ‘Cannes Film Festival’ and an ‘Academy Award’ in 1957. In a ‘White House’ ceremony in April 1961, President John F. Kennedy awarded him the ‘Special Gold Medal’ of the ‘National Geographic Society.’

Cousteau’s TV programs have won more than 40 nominations for various prominent awards. His other ‘Academy Award’-winning films are ‘The Golden Fish’ and ‘World Without Sun.’

Some of the major honors bestowed on Cousteau were the ‘Grand Croix Dans l’Ordre National du Merite’ from the French government in 1985, the ‘US Presidential Medal of Freedom’ in 1985, and the ‘The Founder’s Award’ from the ‘International Council of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ in 1987. In 1987, he was inducted into the ‘Television Hall of Fame.’ The ‘National Geographic Society’ awarded him the ‘Centennial Award’ in 1988, for “special contribution to mankind throughout the years.” In 1977, the ‘United Nations’ awarded him the ‘International Environmental Prize.’

For his services to the environment and marine life, he was awarded an ‘Honorary Companion of the Order of Australia’ in January 1990.

Personal Life

Cousteau married Simone Melchior, a wealthy girl from Paris, in 1937. The couple had two sons, Jean-Michel, born in 1938, and Philippe, born in 1939. Later, the sons joined their father in his undersea expeditions.

In June 1979, Philippe was killed when his plane crashed in the Tagus River of Portugal. Cousteau’s wife, Simone, died in 1990. In 1991, Cousteau married Francine Triplet. They had a daughter, Diane Cousteau, in 1980, and a son, Pierre-Yves Cousteau, in 1982.

Jacques Cousteau died of a cardiac arrest on June 25, 1997, in Paris. He was 87 years old at the time of his death.

// Famous Explorers

Jacques Cousteau awards

YearNameAward

Other

Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres‎
Presidential Medal of Freedom
Honorary Companion of the Order of Australia
Benjamin Franklin Medal
BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award
Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film
Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature
Howard N. Potts Medal
Q23897398
Genesis Award
Founder’s Medal
Q211692
National Inventors Hall of Fame
Commander of the Legion of Honour
Croix de guerre 1939–1945
Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit

Jacques Cousteau biography timelines

  • // 11th Jun 1910
    Cousteau was born in Saint-Andre-de-Cubzan, Gironde, France, on June 11, 1910. His mother, Élisabeth Duranthon, was the daughter of a wealthy landowner, and his father, Daniel Cousteau, was a lawyer. Jacques was the younger of their two sons. His elder brother’s name was Pierre-Antoine.
  • // 1918
    In 1918, his father was appointed as a legal advisor to Eugene Higgins, a wealthy New York expatriate, and with him, the Cousteau family traveled all over Europe. During this period, the Cousteaus lived in New York for a while, where Jacques studied at the ‘Holy Name School,’ Manhattan. He learnt underwater diving at a summer camp on Vermont’s Lake Harvey.
  • // 1933
    He joined an aviation academy, as he wanted to be a naval pilot. He met with a near-fatal automobile accident in the year 1933, in which he almost lost both his arms. He took to swimming to rehabilitate his arms. His friend Philippe Tailliez gifted him a pair of underwater goggles. Cousteau was fascinated by the undersea world, and that was a beginning of his lifelong association with oceans and oceanic life
  • // 1937 To 1943
    In order to overcome the technical problems and improve his devices, he began working with Émile Gagnan, an engineer, in 1937. Together, they developed a device with two tanks of compressed air, a mouthpiece, a hose, and an automatic regulator. The device provided air on demand. They patented this prototype as the ‘Aqua-Lung,’ in 1943.
  • // 1942
    Cousteau realized that the standard diving gear had limitations, as the diver would remain tied to the ship and his movements would be restricted. In 1942, he, along with two colleagues, Philippe Tailliez and Frederic Dumas, filmed his first underwater movie, ‘Sixty Feet Down.’ In spite of technical limitations restricting its quality, this 18-minute film received critical acclaim at the ‘Cannes Film Festival.’
  • // 19th Jul 1950
    Cousteau bought a converted US minesweeper, ‘Calypso,’ on July 19, 1950. Its first expedition was to the Red Sea, which resulted in a number of discoveries of unknown species of plants and animals and volcanic basins beneath the Red Sea.
  • // 1952
    The next mission to Toulon (1952) brought fame to Cousteau, as they found a wrecked Roman ship, ‘Mahdia,’ filled with treasure, near the South Coast of Grand-Congloué. This was the first underwater archaeology operation. The publication of his book, ‘The Silent World,’ immensely added to his increasing eminence.
  • // 1955
    Calypso undertook a 13,800-mile journey in the year 1955. During this expedition, Cousteau filmed the movie version of his book ‘The Silent World.’ This 90-minute film won him awards and accolades.
  • // 1957
    In 1957, he was appointed as the director of the ‘Oceanographic Institute and Museum’ of Monaco. Through the ‘Conshelf Saturation Program,’ he demonstrated that underwater habitation was possible wherever the oceanauts could live for weeks at a time. The movie ‘World Without Sun’ was based on this project.
  • // 1966 To 1977
    An hour-long TV program, ‘The World of Jacques-Yves Cousteau,’ was broadcast in 1966 and received immense acclaim. This led to the popular show, ‘The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.’ This show featured him with his sons and ran for eight seasons. The next series, the ‘Cousteau Odyssey,’ premiered in 1977 and was about the conservation of oceanic life.
  • // 1970
    A non-profit environmental group, the ‘Cousteau Society,’ was established in 1970 at Bridgeport, Connecticut. It currently boasts of over 300,000 memberships. Cousteau personally interacted with the heads of the states to restrict commercial whaling. He also campaigned against the dumping of nuclear waste in the Mediterranean Sea.
  • // 1980 To 1984
    In 1980, Cousteau produced two TV programs on the greater St. Lawrence waters. This was followed by the ‘Cousteau Amazon’ series in 1984. ‘Cousteau/Mississippi: The Reluctant Ally’ won an ‘Emmy Award’ in the mid-1980s.
  • // 1980
    Other important inventions of Cousteau include the ‘Sea Spider,’ a multi-armed diagnostic device that was invented to study the biochemical composition of the ocean surface. In 1980, he and his team worked on high-tech wind sails, known as ‘Turbosails,’ which help in reducing consumption of fuel by ships on the ocean.
  • // Jan 1990
    For his services to the environment and marine life, he was awarded an ‘Honorary Companion of the Order of Australia’ in January 1990.
  • // 25th Jun 1997
    Jacques Cousteau died of a cardiac arrest on June 25, 1997, in Paris. He was 87 years old at the time of his death.

// Famous French

Jacques Cousteau's FAQ

  • What is Jacques Cousteau birthday?

    Jacques Cousteau was born at 1910-06-11

  • When was Jacques Cousteau died?

    Jacques Cousteau was died at 1997-06-25

  • Where was Jacques Cousteau died?

    Jacques Cousteau was died in Paris

  • Which age was Jacques Cousteau died?

    Jacques Cousteau was died at age 87

  • Where is Jacques Cousteau's birth place?

    Jacques Cousteau was born in Saint-André-de-Cubzac

  • What is Jacques Cousteau nationalities?

    Jacques Cousteau's nationalities is French

  • Who is Jacques Cousteau spouses?

    Jacques Cousteau's spouses is her death) Francine Triplet Cousteau (1991-1997), Simone Melchior Cousteau (1937-1990

  • Who is Jacques Cousteau siblings?

    Jacques Cousteau's siblings is Pierre-Antoine Cousteau

  • Who is Jacques Cousteau childrens?

    Jacques Cousteau's childrens is Diane, Jean-Michel, Philippe Cousteau, Pierre-Yves

  • What was Jacques Cousteau universities?

    Jacques Cousteau studied at École Navale, Collège Stanislas de Paris

  • Which company or organization was founded by Jacques Cousteau?

    Jacques Cousteau was the founder/co-founder of Aqua Lung/La Spirotechnique, EarthEcho International, Aqua Lung America

  • What is Jacques Cousteau's inventions/discoveries?

    Aqua-lung was invented (or discovered) by Jacques Cousteau

  • Who is Jacques Cousteau's father?

    Jacques Cousteau's father is Daniel Cousteau

  • Who is Jacques Cousteau's mother?

    Jacques Cousteau's mother is Élisabeth Cousteau

  • What is Jacques Cousteau's sun sign?

    Jacques Cousteau is Gemini

  • How famous is Jacques Cousteau?

    Jacques Cousteau is famouse as French Explorer