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Joseph Kessel Dead at 81

July 26, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Funeral services were held today for Joseph Kessel, the first Jew and first journalist to be elected to the French Academy, who died at his country home Monday night at the age of 81. The Russian-born writer and journalist was often called the French Ernest Hemingway. He wrote more than 40 books, including the novel on which the film Belle de Jour was based. His novels were packed with action, adventure and crises-laden situations.

Kessel served in the French Air Force during World War I and rejoined the Air Force during World War II during which he wrote the words of the resistance hymn “The Song of the Partisans.” When he was elected to the French Academy in 1962 he had his traditional sword forged with a Magen David on the hilt and with the word Jerusalem inscribed on the blade.

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