A famous French chanteuse, or singer.
Edith Giovanna Gassion was born on 19 December 1915. Abandoned by her mother, she was placed by her traveling-showman father in the care of the madam of a cheap Normandy brothel. Here she remained until 1922, when she rejoined her father and accompanied him on his travels. In 1930, by now free of paternal authority, she started singing in a duo with Simone Berteaut, a woman destined to become her alter ego and misguiding spirit. The pair of them worked the streets and the camps, and by 1932 Piaf was with a man and pregnant. The child was born the following year, but died in 1935.
By the autumn of the same year, Piaf had come to the attention of Louis Leplï¿½e, a Paris night-life figure who booked her into the Gerny's club. "La mome" Piaf proved such a success that Polydor signed her up, and before the year was out she had recorded "L'Etranger" and "Les Momes de la Cloche". Marguerite Monnot started writing songs for her. In the spring of 1936, however, Leplï¿½e was murdered, a sordid affair that finished up rebounding on Piaf and soiling her image. Sh nevertheless played late-spring engagements in the Bobino and the Europï¿½en. Records and Paris stages, strange though it may seem today, were insufficient to keep a young beginner in food, so Edith set out to conquer France's far-flung provinces.
In the late summer, she phoned Raymond Asso, whose "Mon lï¿½gionnaire" she had earlier refused, and the contact resulted in his succeeding Leplï¿½e as her mentor. In the autumn she landed a booking at the Alhambra, and by January 1937 was waxing two titles by Asso and Monnot, "Mon lï¿½gionnaire" and "Le Fanion de la Lï¿½gion". The spring found her back on the boards of the Bobino, but none of this was enough for Edith, who had set her mind on the ABC, the most prestigious Paris music-hall. Before that spring was out, the bastion had fallen, turning the tide of her career. She notched up a triumph at the ABC, and by the autumn they were clamouring for her return, all of which resulted in a tour of the provinces with ABC show. In June 1938 she was back at the Europï¿½en, the following October recorded "C'est lui que mon Coeur a choisi". She was now well and truly un her way, projecting her voice without a mike and taking her audiences by storm. She fulfilled two further dates at the Bobino, the first in the autumn of 1938, the second the following spring. By the autumn of 1939, war had broken out. Asso was called up, and Michel Emer, just before leaving for the front penned a song for her, "L'Accordï¿½oniste".
Edith was now earning her living at the Night Club, but later reappeared on the bill of the Europï¿½en. A young singer by the name of Paul Meurisse caught her attention, and she proceeded to devour him.
As the winter of 1940 was drawing to a close, Piaf and Meurisse appeared together at the Bobino, then played in the stage premiere of Jean Cocteau's "Le Bel Indiffï¿½rent". In the spring, the two lovers returned to the Europï¿½en, at the same time taking part in the filming of "Monmartre-sur-Seine" with Jean-Louis Barrault, Serge Reggiani and Georges Marchal. They then featured in "La Revue de l'ABC", and in the spring of 1941 they were billed at the Bobino. Edith was by this time working with Henry Contet, and in the early summer she was booked into the Europï¿½en. Her lover of the moment was by now Norbert Glanzberg, a Jewish pianist, something that appealed to her taste for provocation. In the autumn she again appeared at the ABC.
By 1943 France had hit rock-bottom, and during the summer of that year Edith featured at the Bobino and toured the stalags singing for prisoners, many of whom she helped to escape. It was during the Occupation period that she met Les Compagnons de la Chanson. In 1944, the end of the war in sight, Lou Barrier became her impresario, and he landed her a first two-week engagement at the Moulin Rouge. Opening the show was Yves Montand, and Edith was again all set to fall in love, now about to play that Pygmalion role henceforth the story of her life. In early 1945 Montand was opening act on her show at the Etoile, where she promptly scored another triumph. By the autumn Edith was back at the Etoile, then during the winter played the Bobino.
Having taken the decision to leave Polydor for Pathï¿½, she set off on a tour of Alsace. By the time she returned to Paris, one of the Compagnons de la Chanson had stepped into the role of lover, Montand discarded because too successful Edith had already opened many doors for Montand, even procuring him opportunity in the film world with a part in "Etoile sans lumiï¿½re". It was now the turn of Compagnons de la Chanson to be set upon the road to success. The group belonged to the same recording stable, and Pathï¿½ now decided to invest it promoting it while at the same time giving the Piaf career fresh impetus. In their company Edith appeared in "Neuf Garcons, un Coeur" and recorded "Les Trois Cloches". When they performed this number on stage, she forsook her usual black dress for a long pale-blue one. The song, known in English as "The Three Bells", was a triumph.
In the autumn of 1946 Edith returned to the Pathï¿½ studios to record several new songs, among them "La Vie an Rose", and then appeared at the Etoile with the Compagnons. During the winter she made her first trip to America, singing at Washington's Constitution Hall. The autumn of 1947 found her back at the Etoile, but she then decided to return to America with the Compagnons. They appeared together at the Play House in New York, where the Compagnons met with such success that they set off on a tour of their own while Edith went for the jackpot by accepting an engagement at the Versailles.
Back in France, she scored another triumph at the ABC in the spring of 1948, then in July returned yet again to America, where she started an affair with boxer Marcel Cerdan. For the first time in her life she had fallen for someone not a singer. In the autumn, an Edith Piaf song moved into England's newly launched sheet-music charts. By the spring of 1949 it was again triumph time at the ABC, then back to New York. Cerdan set of to join her, but was killed when the plane in which he was traveling crashed. Edith, totally broken by his death, was soon seeking refuge in drugs and alcohol.
At the outset of 1950, in Paris's Salle Pleyel, she sang "L'Hymne a l'Amour" in Cerdan's memory. After doing a new show at the ABC in the spring, she recorded several of her songs in English. She began a relationship with Eddie Constantine, and in 1951 returned to theatre in "la Petit Lili" at the ABC. Two cyclists, Andre Poussï¿½ and Toto Gï¿½rardin, found a place in her heart, replacing her handsome American in Paris. In recording "Je Hais les Dimanches", offered her by a still little-known Charles Aznavour, Edith was attempting to take the man over, but in vain. She returned to the studios to record "Jezebel", adapted by Aznavour. At the end of the year she appeared at the ABC prior to filming "Paris chante toujours".
In 1952 she married singer-composer Jacques Pills and recorded other pieces destined for posterity such as "Je t'ai dans la Peau", co-written by Pills and his pianist, a man by the name of Gilbert Bï¿½caud. Just before leaving for New York, where she went through a second marriage ceremony with Pills, she filmed "Boum sur Paris". In 1953 she sang at the Copa City Night in Miami. When she returned to Paris in July, Gilbert Bï¿½caud brought her songs. She recorded "Les Amants de Venise", "Bravo pour le Clown" and "Les Croix". In early 1954 she recorded a future classic, "La Goualante du Pauvre Jean", and appeared at the Alhambra and the Bobino. In the spring she took part in the Sacha Guitry film "Si Versailles m'ï¿½tait contï¿½", in which she sang "Ca ira". She then played in a revival of "Le Bell Indiffï¿½rent" with Jacques Pills at the Marigny Theatre. In the autumn she was back in the studios, and among a number of songs she recorded was "Sous le ciel de Paris". Her repertoire now oscillated between intensely emotional songs and lighter, more sentimental material. In early 1955 she played the Olympia Theatre for the first time, and by September was back in New York, after a three year absence, appearing at Versailles. She then moved onto Havana and Mexico.
At the end of the very cold winter of 1956, she recorded "Les Amants d'un Jour" and "L'Homme a la Moto". By the time Summer came round, she had already played two sell-out houses at the Olympia. She then headed back across the Atlantic and spent 11 months touring America from north to south. Among the venues were the Constitution Hall in Washington and the Carnegie Hall in New York, and she experienced the satisfaction of receiving a seven minutes standing ovation. At the end of 1956 she played in the film "Les Amants de Demain" and recorded "La Foule". In 1958, her repeated recent success enabled her to sail through a three-month run at the Olympia with Felix Martin. Martin inspired her to record "Mon Manege a moi", but no sooner had she helped launch him than she left him for a young American painter, Douglas Davies, for a romance that lasted the time of a single canvas.
In the late spring of 1959 Edith recorded Georges Moustaki's "Milord", her first big success in the English hit-parade. It also made third place in Italy and reached the number one spots in Germany and Holland. At the end of the year she set of with Moustaki for New York, when she collapsed on-stage at the Waldorf Astoria. Yet once back in France she again set out on tour. In 1960 Charles Dumont, whom Edith had long ignored, came to her with "Non, je ne regrette rien", a song that quickly became a big hit throughout Europe. Number one in Holland, number one in Italy. In late 1960 she followed up with "Mon Dieu", another historic song. These Dumont-penned hits opened the way to a four-month run at the Olympia, the show continuing through until the spring of 1961. This latest triumph was based on Dumont's songs, but she also recorded "Exodus" for the sound-track of the film of the same name. And before the summer, a future hit was on the way: "Les Amants".
During the following winter, Edith met Thï¿½o Sarapo, who gave her energy to start working again. They married in the autumn of 1962. During the period of engagement they recorded "A quoi ca sert l'Amour" and appeared at the Olympia shortly after. The close of winter 1963 found them at the Bobino, but Edith was now weary and by the spring had bee hospitalized. That summer Thï¿½o took her to the Riviera to convalesce, but she suffered a relapse and was again hospitalized. When she died, in secret, during the early hours of 11 October 1963 her eyes moist with tears, Sarapo headed for Paris by car with her corpse. Edith Piaf was buried in the Pere-Lachaise cemetery on 14 October.
Edith Piaf ( pronounced Pee- Aff) was a French nightclub and concert singer. she did cut records, but as far as I know did not act in movies. Mlle Piaf died in l963.
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