Born in Paris, France, his most famous inventions are:
- the anamorphic widescreen process, using an anamorphic lens system called Hypergonar, that resulted in the CinemaScope, and
- the co-invention of the Ritchey-Chrétien telescope (with George Willis Ritchey), which was an advanced type of astronomical telescope, now used in virtually all research telescopes.
He spent part of his early astronomical career at the Nice Observatory, which was close to his house, the Villa Paradou. The Villa was built by famous French architect Charles Garnier who also built the Opera of Paris. In 1995 the abandoned villa was acquired by the artist Rainer Maria Latzke, who restored the villa and added new modern murals to the already existing frescoes.
He was one of the founders of the Institut d'optique théorique et appliquée and professor at the French "grande école" SupOptique (École supérieure d'optique).
Awards and honors
- The astronomical Chrétien International Research Grants awards are in honor of him
- The crater Chrétien on the Moon is named in his honor.
- In 1955, he received an Academy Award for his work on the CinemaScope process.
- Lance Day & Ian McNeil, eds., Biographical Dictionary of the History of Technology, 1995
- Chrétien International Research Grants