Francis de Croisset

Francis de Croisset (French: [fʁɑ̃sis də kʁwasɛ]; born Franz Wiener, 28 January 1877 – 8 November 1937) was a Belgian-born French playwright and opera librettist.

Francis de Croisset
M. Francis de Croiset (i.e. Croisset). (Auteur dramatique) - (photographie, tirage de démonstration) - (Atelier Nadar).jpg
Photograph of de Croisset by Nadar
Franz Wiener

(1877-01-28)28 January 1877
Brussels, Belgium
Died8 November 1937(1937-11-08) (aged 60)
Neuilly, France
Marie-Thérèse Bischoffsheim
(m. 1910; his death 1937)
RelativesPhilippe de Montebello
AwardsCroix de Guerre

Early lifeEdit

Born as Franz Wiener, he was educated in Brussels on 28 January 1877 into a prominent Jewish-Belgian family that was distinguished in diplomacy and the army.[1] His parents were Alexandre Jacques Wiener and Eugenie Bertha (née Straus) Wiener. After moving to France, where he spent most of his life, he had his name changed by Presidential decree.[1]

At age 17, he rebelled against his parents' wishes that he take up a military career, and ran away to Paris. In 1901, his play Chérubin was produced at the Comédie-Française where Cécile Sorel (later the Comtesse de Ségur) made her debut in it. Jules Massenet set Chérubin to music and, in 1905, Mary Garden sang its première at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo.[1]


Mary Garden at the 1905 première of Chérubin

He was a lawyer by profession, but de Croisset gradually devoted more and more time to the theatre, "until play writing became his vocation."[1]

His opera librettos include Massenet's Chérubin (1905), based on his play of the same name, and Reynaldo Hahn's Ciboulette (1923).[2]

In 1919, de Croisset went to the United States to study film for the French government. By 1927, his name was attached to more than fifty plays. In 1925, he collaborated with Somerset Maugham on Dr. Miracle, which was produced in New York City.[1] Additional plays were produced in New York, including Pierre or Jack?.[3]

Military serviceEdit

Notwithstanding his aversion to a career in the military, upon the outbreak of World War I, he enlisted in the French Army as a private, serving for four years before mustering out as a Lieutenant. He was twice decorated for his gallantry, including being awarded the Croix de Guerre for his valor.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1909, he was engaged to Mlle. Isola, the daughter of one of the directors of the Théâtre de la Gaîté. The engagement was broken off and, instead, he married wealthy widow Marie-Thérèse Bischoffsheim, in 1910. A daughter of Count and Countess Adhéaume de Chevigné, she was a descendant of the Marquis de Sade and her grandmother Laure de Sade was, in part, the inspiration for the character of the Duchess of Guermantes in Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past).[4] From her first marriage to banking heir Maurice Bischoffsheim, she had a daughter, the arts patron Marie-Laure de Noailles (later the Vicomtesse de Noailles from her 1923 marriage to Charles, Vicomte de Noailles). Together, Marie-Thérèse and Francis were the parents of two children:

  • Philippe de Croisset (1912–1965),[5] who married Ethel Woodward, a daughter of American banker William Woodward, in 1941.[6] After having two sons,[7][8] they divorced and Philippe married Jacqueline de la Chaume. After his death in 1965, she became the third wife of actor Yul Brynner.[9]
  • Germaine de Croisset (1913–1975), who married Marquis André Roger Lannes de Montebello (1908–1986), in 1933.

De Croisset died American Hospital at Neuilly on 8 November 1937.[1] His widow died in Grasse in October 1963.


Through his son Philippe, he was a grandfather of two boys. One of which is Charles de Croisset, a French banker.[7][8] Though his daughter Germaine, he was a grandfather of four boys, including Georges de Montebello (1934–1996), an investment banker and president of the Swiss Helvetia Fund, and Philippe de Montebello (b. 1936), the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from 1977 until 2008.[10]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g "DE CROISSET, NOTED AS A PLAYWRIGHT; Belgian Who Won Series of Successes in Paris Dies in Neuilly at Age of 60 HIS PLAYS PRODUCED HERE Ran Away From Home to Avoid Army Career--Honored for Valor in World War". The New York Times. 9 November 1937. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  2. ^ Stanley Hochman; McGraw-Hill, inc (1984). McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Drama: An International Reference Work in 5 Volumes. VNR AG. p. 565. ISBN 978-0-07-079169-5.
  3. ^ "GETS DE CROISSET COMEDY.; Gilbert Miller Has American Rights to "Pierre or Jack?"". The New York Times. 23 April 1931. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  4. ^ TIMES, Special Cable to THE NEW YORK (20 March 1910). "DE CROISSET TO WED.; Playwright to Marry a Wealthy Widow of Paris". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  5. ^ "DE CROISSET DIES; FRENCH PUBLISHER; War Hero, 53, Had Headed French Agency in N.Y." The New York Times. 24 March 1965. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  6. ^ "Ethel Woodward, Daughter of Turfman, Becomes the Bride of Philippe de Croisset". The New York Times. 9 April 1941. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Son to Philippe de Croissets". The New York Times. 31 January 1942. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Son to Philippe de Croissets". The New York Times. 29 September 1943. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  9. ^ "Yul Brynner Remarries". The New York Times. 26 September 1971. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  10. ^ Gelder, Lawrence Van (12 December 1996). "G. de Montebello, Banker Who Started Fund, Is Dead at 62". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 June 2020.

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