Florent Carton aka Dancourt, French dramatist and actor, was born at Fontainebleau. He belonged to a family of rank, and his parents entrusted his education to Pere de la Rue, a Jesuit, who made earnest efforts to induce him to join the order. But he had no religious vocation and proceeded to study law.
He practised at the bar for some time, but his marriage to the daughter of the comedian Francois Lenoir de la Thorilliere led him to become an actor, and in 1685, in spite of the strong opposition of his family, he appeared at the Theatre Francais. His gifts as a comedian gave him immediate and marked success, both with the public and with his fellow actors. He was the spokesman of his company on occasions of state, and in this capacity he frequently appeared before Louis XIV., who treated him with great favor.
One of his most famous impersonations was Alceste in the Misanthrope of Molière. His first play, Le Notaire obligeant, produced in 1685, was well received. La Désolation des joueuses was still more successful. Le Chevalier à la mode is generally regarded as his best work, though his claim to original authorship in this and some other cases has been disputed. In Le Chevalier à la mode appears the bourgeoise infatuated with the desire to be an aristocrat. The type is developed in Les Bourgeoises de la mode and Les Bourgeoises de qualité. Dancourt was a prolific author, and produced some sixty plays in all, including Le Diable boiteux.