Jeanne Moreau

1928 (Paris) – 2017 (Paris)

Moreau sacked the agent who tried to stop her working with Malle (the film made her a star). She gave Truffaut the money to finish Jules et Jim, and chased the producer-butcher of a Losey film brandishing a knife. Welles thought her the best actress in the world. Duras (whose part she once acted), Genet and Miller were among her writer friends. Malle, Truffaut and Richardson were lovers, Friedkin briefly her husband. Other directors she worked with included Buñuel, Godard, Antonioni, Wenders, Fassbinder and Kazan. Nin, a strong friend, wanted her to play her own part in a film that wasn’t made.

Jeanne Moreau knew…

Jean-Louis Barrault

1910 (Vésinet, France) – 1994 (Paris)

A drink with his close friend Prévert led to one of Barrault’s best-known acting roles, directed by Carné. Anouilh and Jolivet founded a review with him. He married Renaud: together they ran a celebrated theatre-company, premièring work by Beckett, Ionesco and Genet among others, and employing the young Boulez as musical director. Malraux, former friend and supporter, had him sacked after he sided with students in the 1968 Paris events. He was a vocal supporter of Artaud, and wrote to Desnos in Buchenwald; Desnos wrote back from Terezin, where he was to die, received a package in return, and sent a kiss.

Jacques Brel

1929 (Brussels) – 1978 (Bobigny, France)

Supreme figure in French-language chanson. When he was still struggling to make headway and had come next to last in a competition, Gréco (who described him as raw-boned and untamed) asked if she could sing one of his songs. Both subsequently quit their record labels to join Barclay’s; Barclay became a true friend. Brel acted in films by Carné and Lelouch, took part in a legendary radio interview with his friend Brassens and Ferré, and advised Gainsbourg to sing more himself. Aznavour, another friend, tried in vain to persuade him not to retire from singing.

Jacques Brel knew…

David Garrick

1717 (Hereford, England) – 1779 (London)

Garrick was a pupil at Johnson’s academy in Lichfield, before mentor and friend went to London together. He joined Johnson and Reynolds’ Literary Club, elected on sufferance with Boswell; Goldsmith was a fellow-member. He had a long, easy but never intimate friendship with Sterne. Goldsmith and Hume were guests when he hosted a supper for Rousseau. Adam improved Garrick’s house and designed a new facade for the Theatre Royal. Diderot and Grimm met him at d’Holbach’s; Grimm said he was the only actor to meet the imagination’s demands.

Antonin Artaud

1896 (Marseille) – 1948 (Ivry-s-Seine)

Artaud played the part of Marat in Gance’s film ‘Napoleon’, and the monk Massin in Dreyer’s film ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc.’ He started the Théâtre Alfred Jarry with Vitrac, and frequented Masson’s studio and Prévert’s apartment. Although he left (or was excommunicated from) the Surrealist group, he and Breton were again on speaking terms 10 years later. He corresponded with Barrault, who was vocal in support of his banned radio-play. He played the title-role in a play by Desnos, who also interceded with the director of the asylum where Artaud was given electric-shock treatment.