Jesús Franco Manera (to use the name he was given at birth) was born in Madrid on May 12 1930. He began his musical education at the age of 6. After his studies, (jurisprudence, languages, literature), Jess Franco became a jazz musician and then a composer of jazz, operettas and the sound-tracks of more than 20 films. He was an actor, then a director on the Madrid stage.
He began his film work first as an author («Comedians», 1954), then later as an assistant director. His directorial debut, «Tenemos 18 Anos», was filmed in 1959. In 1966, Franco filmed a Shakespeare interpretation, «Falstaff» with Orson Welles, which was nominated for a British Film Award. He first came to international attention at the 1967 Berlin Festival, where his film «Necronomicon - Dreamt Sin» was shown. A man of multiple talents, he assumed a number of functions in many of his films. It was not unusual for him to be the screenplay author, director, cameraman, composer and star at the same time. Since film themes involving sex and violence were allowed only on a very limited basis in Spain at this time, Franco normally filmed either in liberal France or for the Swiss film mogul Erwin C. Dietrich, with whom he created works such as «Jack the Ripper» and «Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun». He has used many pseudonyms over the course of his career, often the names of well-known jazz musicians. He is also known for shooting more than one project at the same time, to the point that sometimes even his regular lead actors lost sight of which film they were shooting at that moment.
A certain constancy in his work as well as in his private life has been ensured by the actress Lina Romay. In the 1970s, Franco shared, along with Luis Bunuel, the Catholic Church's title of «most dangerous film maker». Franco's filmography now extends to more than 150 films of a variety of different genres, from classic horror films to sex films.