PARIS, JAN. 20 -- Baron Philippe de Rothschild, 85, one of the most famous names in the French wine industry as well as a writer, sportsman, theater director and film producer, died today at his home here. The cause of death was not reported.
Despite his wealth and many awards, Baron Rothschild remained a man of the land, an enthusiasm born when his father made him manager of the family's Bordeaux vineyards, Mouton-Rothschild, in 1922. He took the operation at Pauillac, outside Bordeaux, and turned it from a pitiful state into a magnificent establishment that is visited by thousands of tourists each year and produces one of the world's finest wines.
The Baron Philippe, as he was commonly known, was born in Paris, the son of Baron Henri de Rothschild and the former Mathilde de Weisweiller. He received a doctorate in science at the University of Paris.
At the time his father put him in charge of the vineyard, owned by the family since 1853, Bordeaux wines were suffering an economic crisis. The vineyard's buildings were falling down. There were no amenities, no electricity, no running water and no telephone. In 1933, Baron Rothschild acquired a neighboring property, Mouton d'Armailhacq, which became Mouton Baron Philippe.
In the 1920s, he became interested in theater, building the Theatre Pigalle and putting on plays. He directed such plays as Sacha Guitry's "Histoire de France," Jules Romains' "Donogoo-Tonka," and "Judith" by Jean Giraudoux. In films, he is best known for producing, with director Marc Allegret, the celebrated "Lacs aux Dames," which in 1932 was the first of the big French talking pictures.
His first wife, Countess Elisabeth Pelletier de Chambure, was deported by the Nazis in 1944 and died in the Ravensbruck concentration camp the next year. They had one daughter, Philippine, mother of his three grandchildren.
After having been imprisoned by the collaborationist Vichy government, Baron Rothschild joined the Free French Forces in London in 1943 and participated as a liaison officer during the Normandy landings of 1944.
Sports, particularly auto sports, were a passion for Baron Rothschild. His Bugatti finished second in the German Grand Prix and fourth in the Monaco Grand Prix in 1929. He twice ran in the Le Mans 24 hours, finishing fifth in 1929.
He was the author of several books and poems, and was best known for his translations of English works, including Christopher Marlowe's "Dr. Faustus."
On April 8, 1954, he married Pauline Fairfax-Potter, daughter of a Baltimore family. She died in 1976.