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JACQUES COUSTEAU DIES IN PARIS AT 87.

Byline: Christopher Burns Associated Press

He shared his undersea adventures with millions of TV viewers worldwide, revealing the enchanting, hidden life that lay beneath the waves. Jacques Cousteau died Wednesday at 87, having left his mark on generations.

Cousteau invoked the heavens to explain his connection to the sea. ``When you dive,'' he once said, ``you begin to feel that you're an angel. It's a liberation of your weight.''

Cousteau's foundation referred to one of his most noted documentaries in announcing his death. ``Jacques-Yves Cousteau has rejoined the Silent World,'' it said in a statement.

His wife, Francine, said Cousteau died at home in Paris before dawn after suffering from a respiratory infection and heart problems. Cousteau reportedly had been ill for months.

``But his voice continues to be heard,'' Francine Cousteau said, vowing to ``continue his struggle'' by finishing the Calypso II, the research ship he was building to replace the Calypso, which sank last year.

Cousteau - wiry, bespectacled and often wearing a red wool cap - became a household name primarily through his hugely popular television series, ``The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau,'' and his many documentaries. He narrated the shows in English with his soothing voice and heavy French accent, beloved to generations of viewers.

But Cousteau's 60-year odyssey, much of it aboard the Calypso, involved more than his life as a filmmaker or great adventurer. He was also an environmentalist and inventor who co-developed the Aqua-Lung, created a one-man jet-propelled submarine and helped start the first manned undersea colonies.

Cousteau, said French President Jacques Chirac, was a legend who ``represented the defense of nature, modern adventure, invention of the possible.''

He won three Academy Awards for best documentary: ``The Silent World'' (1957), ``Le Poisson Rouge'' (1959) and ``World Without Sun'' (1965).

In the past 15 years, Cousteau became an eloquent advocate of environmental protection and maintaining the delicate balance of the ecosystem.

``The future of civilization depends on water,'' he said in Florida in January, while receiving one of his many awards. ``I beg you all to understand this.''

Ever the innovator, Cousteau dreamed of solving the world's energy crisis by channeling the sea's tides and temperatures, and by extracting essential raw materials from the ocean floor. He foresaw a day when the world's population could be fed by plantations hundreds of feet beneath the surface.

President Clinton praised Cousteau as a ``man with rare insight and extraordinary spirit.''

``While we mourn his death, it is far more appropriate that we celebrate his remarkable life,'' Clinton said. ``Captain Cousteau showed us both the importance of the world's oceans and the beauty that lies within.''

Time magazine put Cousteau on its cover in 1960, and he received the National Geographic Society's Gold Medal in 1961 in a ceremony attended by President Kennedy.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau was born June 11, 1910, in St.-Andre-de-Cubzac, a small town near Bordeaux. His father was a lawyer who traveled constantly, and young Jacques was a sickly child.

But he learned to swim and spent hours at the beach. Formal schooling bored Cousteau; he was expelled from high school for breaking 17 school windows.

During World War II, Cousteau was involved in espionage activities for the French Resistance.

He made his first underwater films during the war period and, with engineer Emile Gagnan, perfected the Aqua-Lung, an underwater breathing apparatus that supplies air to divers and enabled him to be a ``manfish.''

In 1950, Cousteau bought the former mine sweeper Calypso, which he converted into a floating laboratory outfitted with the most modern equipment, including underwater television gear.

From 1952 to 1953, Cousteau took the Calypso to the Red Sea, where he shot the first color footage ever taken at a depth of 150 feet. He then began a four-year voyage across the oceans of the world.

He wrote many books, including ``The Living Sea'' (1963) and ``World Without Sun'' (1965). A 20-volume encyclopedia, ``The Ocean World of Jacques Cousteau,'' was published in the United States and England.

In 1977, the ``Cousteau Odyssey'' series premiered on PBS. Seven years later, the ``Cousteau Amazon'' series premiered on the Turner Broadcasting System. In all, his documentaries have won 40 Emmy nominations.

The foundation said a memorial service would be held Monday in Paris' Notre Dame cathedral, and that he would be buried in France. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

CAPTION(S):

4 Photos

PHOTO (1 -- color) Oceanographer Jacques Cousteau died Wednesday at his Paris home at 87.

(2) Jacques Cousteau, who shared his adventures with millions of TV viewers, eyes a school of fish in the Indian Ocean in this undated photo.

(3) Cousteau hooks up his breathing gear before a dive off the French coast.

(4) Cousteau accepts an environmental service award at his last public appearance in January.

Associated Press
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Jun 26, 1997
Words:797
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