Romain Gary (May 8, 1914 – December 2, 1980) was a French novelist, film director, World War II aviator and diplomat.
Born Roman Kacew (Yiddish: ???, Russian: „K„p„ˆ„u„r), Romain Gary grew up in Vilnius to a family of Lithuanian Jews. He changed his name to Romain Gary when he escaped occupied France to fight with Great Britain against Germany in World War II. His father, Arieh-Leib Kacew, abandoned his family in 1925 and remarried. From this time Gary was raised by his mother, Nina Owczinski. When he was fourteen, he and his mother moved to Nice, France. In his books and interviews, he presented many different versions of his father's origin, parents, occupation and childhood.
He later studied law, first in Aix-en-Provence and then in Paris. He learned to pilot an aircraft in the French Air Force in Salon-de-Provence and in Avord Air Base, near Bourges. Following the Nazi occupation of France in World War II, he fled to England and under Charles de Gaulle served with the Free French Forces in Europe and North Africa. As a pilot, he took part in over 25 successful offensives logging over 65 hours of air time.
He was greatly decorated for his bravery in the war, receiving many medals and honours.
After the war, he worked in the French diplomatic service and in 1945 published his first novel. He would become one of France's most popular and prolific writers, authoring more than thirty novels, essays and memoirs, some of which he wrote under the pseudonym of Émile Ajar. He also wrote one novel under the pseudonym of Fosco Sinibaldi and another as Shatan Bogat.
In 1952, he became secretary of the French Delegation to the United Nations in New York, and later in London (in 1955).
In 1956, he became Consul General of France in Los Angeles.
He is the only person to win the Prix Goncourt twice. This prize for French language literature is awarded only once to an author. Gary, who had already received the prize in 1956 for Les racines du ciel, published La vie devant soi under the pseudonym of Émile Ajar in 1975. The Académie Goncourt awarded the prize to the author of this book without knowing his real identity. A period of literary intrigue followed. Gary's little cousin Paul Pavlowitch posed as the author for a time. Gary later revealed the truth in his posthumous book Vie et mort d'Émile Ajar.
1948 Bulgaria. Lesley Blanch and Romain Gary © Lesley Blanch Archive
Gary's first wife was the British writer, journalist, and Vogue editor Lesley Blanch (1904-2007, author of The Wilder Shores of Love ). They married in 1944 and divorced in 1961. From 1962 to 1970, Gary was married to the American actress Jean Seberg, with whom he had a son, Alexandre Diego Gary July 1963.
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Seberg and Gary
He also co-wrote the screenplay for the motion picture, The Longest Day and co-wrote and directed the 1971 film Kill!, starring his now ex-wife Seberg.
Suffering from depression after Seberg's 1979 suicide, Gary died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on December 2, 1980 in Paris, France though he left a note which said specifically that his death had no relation with Seberg's suicide. Also, he addressed in his note that Émile Ajar is himself.
 Selected bibliography
Romain Gary monument in Vilnius
 As Romain Gary
* Education européenne (1945); translated as A European Education
* Tulipe (1946); republished and modified in 1970.
* Le grand vestiaire (1949); translated as "The Company Of Men, 1950)
* Les couleurs du jour (1952); translated as The Colors of the Day, 1953
* Les racines du ciel — 1956 Prix Goncourt; translated (and filmed) as The Roots of Heaven
* Lady L. (1957); translated and published in French in 1963.
* La promesse de l'aube (1960); translated as Promise at Dawn, 1961
* Johnie Coeur (1961, a theatre adaptation of "L'homme a la colombe")
* Gloire à nos illustres pionniers (1962, short stories); translated as "Hissing Tales" (1964)
* The Ski Bum (1965) (French transl. Adieu Gary Cooper, 1969)
* Pour Sganarelle (1965, literary essay)
* Les Mangeurs d'Etoiles (1966); translated and first published as The Talent Scout (1961)
* La danse de Gengis Cohn (1967); translated as The Dance of Genghis Cohn
* La tête coupable (1968); translated as The Guilty Head(1969)
* Chien blanc (1970); translated as White Dog, the basis for the 1982 film White Dog
* Les trésors de la Mer Rouge (1971)
* Europa(1972) translated in English in 1978.
* The Gasp (1973); translated as Charge d'ame(1978)
* Les enchanteurs (1973); translated as The Enchanters(1975)
* La nuit sera calme (1974, interview)
* Au-delà de cette limite votre ticket n'est plus valable (1975); translated as "Your Ticket Is No Longer Valid", 1977.
* Clair de femme (1977)
* La bonne moitié (1979, theatre)
* Les clowns lyriques (1979); new version of the 1952 novel, "Les couleurs du jour" (The Colors of the Day)
* Les cerfs-volants (1980)
* Vie et mort d'Émile Ajar (1981, posthumous)
* L'homme à la colombe (1984, definitive posthumous version)
* L'affaire homme (2005, articles and interviews)
* L'orage (2005, short stories and unfinished novels)
As Émile Ajar
* Gros câlin (1974)
* La vie devant soi — 1975 Prix Goncourt; translated as Momo and filmed as Madame Rosa, re-released as "The Life Before Us" (1986).
* Pseudo (1976)
* L'Angoisse du roi Salomon (1979); translated as "King Solomon" (1983).
* Gros câlin (2007)- new version including final chapter of the original and never published version.
[ As Fosco Sinibaldi
* L'homme à la colombe (1958)
 As Shatan Bogat
* Les têtes de Stéphanie (1974)
] As director
* Les oiseaux vont mourir au Pérou (Birds in Peru)(1968) starring Jean Seberg
* Kill! (1971)
 As screenwriter
* The Roots of Heaven (1958)
* The Longest Day (1962)
* Myriam Anissimov, Romain Gary, le caméléon (Denoël 2004)
* Nancy Huston, Tombeau de Romain Gary(Babel, 1997)
* Cahier de l'Herne, Romain Gary (L'Herne, 2005)