Jacques Cousteau Biography
If there is one person who single-handedly fascinated millions of landlocked viewers to venture underwater into the unknown, through television, it is the Frenchman Jacques Cousteau. Jacques-Yves Cousteau was born on June 11, 1910, in the town of St.-Andre-de-Cubzac near Bordeaux, in France, to Daniel and Elizabeth Cousteau.
As a child, Jacques was quite sickly but he nonetheless learned to swim at the age of four. His initial dip led to his everlasting love for the sea. He was also very curious about machines. At the age of 13, Cousteau saved his pocket money to buy a movie camera. The first thing he did was to take it apart to see how it worked! He shot films around the house and credited it with “J Cousteau” director and chief cameraman.
Jacques Cousteau – A brief biography, Biographies for kids: Despite his curiosity, Cousteau was not very interested in school. He was soon expelled from school for breaking one of the windows. As a result Cousteau was sent to a boarding school in Alsace.
In 1930, he gained entry to the Ecole Navale (Naval Academy) at Brest. Cousteau joined the French Navy as a gunnery officer. He took his camera along and shot roll after roll of exotic films. It was in one of his trips near Polynesia that he saw South Sea pearl divers wearing a kind of goggles when they dived under water to search for oysters.
In 1933, he suffered a major car accident that nearly cost him his life. Cousteau began swimming daily in the Mediterranean to regain his health. Here he experimented with watertight goggles, so he could see underwater.
Cousteau married Simone Melchior in 1937 and they had two sons, Jean-Michel and Phillipe. Cousteau and his friends were determined to dive deeper and capture what they saw on camera. The compressed air cylinder had just been invented and this helped Cousteau to experiment with various items like snorkel hoses, body suits, and breathing apparatus to stay underwater. He even fashioned a waterproof cover for the camera.
During World War II, when Paris fell to Hitler’s Nazis, Cousteau joined the French Resistance movement, spying on the armed forces of Hitler’s ally, Italy. For his efforts, the French government later awarded him several medals including the Legion d’Honneur, the highest honour given to a cilvilian.