In Loving Memory of Jean-Charles Roux
It is with my deepest sadness to share the news of the passing of Jean-Charles Roux, a dear friend to both me, my father and the entire Cousteau extended family.
Starting in 1952 when the adventure of the undersea exploration started aboard the Calypso under the direction of my late father Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Jean-Charles Roux, based in Monaco, France, became a critical part of the image of my father and the Cousteau team.
Roux was instrumental in the design and look of the Cousteau on-camera dive team in "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau" television series, which featured the "bumble bee" yellow/black dive ensemble, and later the distinctive look of the silver suits, helmets, and underwater scooters. Before anything was built: diving equipment, underwater cameras, mini subs (diving saucer, fleas) underwater habitats (Conself I, II & III), colors schemes or logos; they were first designed using models, sometimes full-size scale by Jean-Charles Roux. His contributions continued many years after my father passing in 1997.
Jean-Charles designed logos for Ocean Futures Society’s education programs and the unique blue suit look for my OFS Expedition team and which were featured in the PBS’s series, “Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Adventures.”
Jean-Charles and his wonderful wife Monique were very close to both my parents, Jacques-Yves and Simone Cousteau. I continued to enjoy visits with Jean-Charles and Monique whenever I was visiting southern France. Two days after I had the privilege of spending time with Jean-Charles and Monique just a few weeks ago, Jean-Charles passed away.
He was one of the most creative human beings I have ever met. He was a friend. He was an on-going inspiration. I miss him. And many others will miss him too until our turn comes to join him in the Big Blue.
It was in 1969 that I first met Jean-Charles Roux. He had just arrived in
California from France and I was told he liked to dive. Since he and I would
working together on the design of the Living Sea Museum aboard the Queen
Mary, it seemed like a good idea to show him the underwater world of
California. I offered to take him diving in Laguna Beach where I was
confident the water would be clear and rich with marine life. Now knowing
how good a diver he was, I was quite careful to take him to a place with an
easy entry and safe conditions. As the team's marine biologist I was happy
to show him all of the interesting marine life - nudibranchs, moray eel in a
hole, juvenile garibaldi and other little wonders of the kelp bed ecosystem.
He seemed interested and followed along nicely. Seeing that he was a good
diver I stopped hovering and let him just explore on his own. Engrossed in
my own experience I realized I had not seen him in a bit. I looked back and
he was no where to be seen. I panicked thinking that I would be in big
trouble with Jean-Michel and his father if I lost their #1 artist. I back
tracked and was relieved to see, in the distance, Jean-Charles sitting on
the bottom. But what was he doing? Why in the world would he be just
sitting on the bottom. As I got closer I was astonished to see him with his
dive knife in one hand and a sea urchin in the other hand. I assumed he was
getting ready to feed the fish, as many divers did in those days. But I was
very wrong. Actually he was feeding himself - UNDERWATER. He gently picked
the gonads out of the urchin, took the regulator out of his mouth and
devoured this delicacy. It was a sight I will never forget and have always
cherished. After the dive he explained that big urchins were not nearly as
common in the Mediterranean as we have here in California and he saw no need
to wait until he got on shore to enjoy this treat. Over the years I
continued to enjoy the many totally unique qualities of this wonderful
artist and member of our Cousteau family.
Dr. Richard Murphy
First Photograph: Jean-Charles Roux with Ocean Futures Society's logo, manfish. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society
Second Photograph: Jean-Michel Cousteau and Jean-Charles Roux in Roux's studio, Monaco. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society
Third Photograph: Jean-Michel Cousteau and Jean-Charles Roux with one of Roux's many designs. © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society
Fourth Photograph: Jean-Michel Cousteau and Jean-Charles Roux with a prototype of the Ocean Futures Society's expedition suits . © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society
Fifth Photograph: (l-r) Monique Roux, Albert Falco and Jean-Charles Roux at an event at the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco, 2009 © Carrie Vonderhaar, Ocean Futures Society