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Edith Piaf

Elle Frequentait La Rue Pigalle


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Édith Piaf (US /piːˈɑːf/ or UK /ˈpiːæf/; French: edit pjaf; 19 December 1915 - 11 October 1963), born Édith Giovanna Gassion, was a French singer who became widely regarded as France's national popular singer, as well as being one of France's greatest international stars. Her singing reflected her life, with her specialty being of Chanson and ballads, particularly of love, loss and sorrow. Among her songs are "La Vie en rose" (1946), "Non, je ne regrette rien" (1960), "Hymne à l'amour" (1949), "Milord" (1959), "La Foule" (1957), "l'Accordéoniste" (1955), and "Padam ... Padam ..." (1951). Family edit: Despite numerous biographies, much of Piaf's life is shrouded in mystery. She was born Édith Giovanna Gassion in Belleville, Paris. Legend has it that she was born on the pavement of Rue de Belleville 72, but her birth certificate cites the Hôpital Tenon, the hospital for the 20th arrondissement, of which Belleville is part. She was named Édith after the World War I British nurse Edith Cavell, who was executed for helping French soldiers escape from German captivity. Piaf - an argot colloquialism for "sparrow" - was a nickname she received 20 years later. Louis-Alphonse Gassion (1881-1944), Édith's father, was a street acrobat performer from Normandy with a past in the theatre. He was the son of Victor Alphonse Gassion (1850-1928) and Léontine Louise Descamps (1860-1937), known as Maman Tine, who ran a brothel in Normandy. Her mother, Annetta Giovanna Maillard (1895-1945), was of French descent on her father's side and of Italian and Moroccan origin on her mother's. She was a native of Livorno, a port city on the western edge of Tuscany, Italy. She worked as a café singer under the name Line Marsa. Her parents were Auguste Eugène Maillard (1866-1912) and Emma (Aïcha) Saïd ben Mohammed (1876-1930), daughter of Said ben Mohammed (1827-1890), a Moroccan acrobat born in Mogador (now Essaouira), and Marguerite Bracco (1830-1898), born in Murazzano in Italy. Early life edit: Édith's mother abandoned her at birth, and she lived for a short time with her maternal grandmother, Emma (Aïcha). Before he enlisted with the French Army in 1916 to fight in World War I, her father took her to his mother, who ran a brothel in Normandy. There, prostitutes helped look after Piaf. From the age of three to seven, Piaf was allegedly blind as a result of keratitis. According to one of her biographies, she recovered her sight after her grandmother's prostitutes pooled money to send her on a pilgrimage honoring Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, which the author claims resulted in a miraculous healing. In 1929, at 14, she joined her father in his acrobatic street performances all over France, where she first sang in public. She took a room at Grand Hôtel de Clermont (18 rue Veron, Paris 18ème) and separated from him, going her own way as a street singer in Pigalle, Ménilmontant, and the Paris suburbs (cf. the song "Elle fréquentait la Rue Pigalle"). She joined her good friend Simone Berteaut ("Mômone") in this endeavor, and the two became lifelong partners in mischief. She was about 16 when she fell in love with Louis Dupont, a delivery boy. At 17, she had her only child, a girl named Marcelle, who died of meningitis at age two. Like her mother, Piaf found it difficult to care for a child while living a life of the streets, so she often left Marcelle behind while she was away, and Dupont raised her until her death. Singing career edit: In 1935 Piaf was discovered in the Pigalle area of Paris by nightclub owner Louis Leplée, whose club Le Gerny off the Champs-Élysées was frequented by the upper and lower classes alike. He persuaded her to sing despite her extreme nervousness, which, combined with her height of only 142 centimetres (4 ft 8 in), inspired him to give her the nickname that would stay with her for the rest of her life and serve as her stage name, La Môme Piaf (Paris slang meaning "The Waif Sparrow" or "The Little Sparrow"). Leplée taught her the basics of stage presence and told her to wear a black dress, which became her trademark apparel. Later, she would always appear in black. Leplée ran an intense publicity campaign leading up to her opening night, attracting the presence of many celebrities, including actor Maurice Chevalier. Her nightclub gigs led to her first two records produced that same year, with one of them penned by Marguerite Monnot, a collaborator throughout Piaf's life and one of her favourite composers. On 6 April 1936, Leplée was murdered. Piaf was questioned and accused as an accessory, but acquitted. Leplée had been killed by mobsters with previous ties to Piaf. A barrage of negative media attention now threatened her career. To rehabilitate her image, she recruited Raymond Asso, with whom she would become romantically involved. He changed her stage name to "Édith Piaf", barred undesirable acquaintances from seeing her, and commissioned Monnot to write songs that reflected or alluded to Piaf's previous life on the streets. In 1940, Édith co-starred in Jean Cocteau's successful one-act play Le Bel Indifférent. She began forming friendships with prominent people, including Chevalier and poet Jacques Borgeat. She wrote the lyrics of many of her songs and collaborated with composers on the tunes. In 1944, she discovered Yves Montand in Paris, made him part of her act, and became his mentor and lover. Within a year, he became one of the most famous singers in France. She broke off their relationship when he had become almost as popular as she was. During this time, she was in great demand and very successful in Paris as France's most popular entertainer. After the war, she became known internationally, touring Europe, the United States, and South America. In Paris, she gave Atahualpa Yupanqui (Héctor Roberto Chavero) - the most important Argentine musician of folklore - the opportunity to share the scene, making his debut in July 1950. She helped launch the career of Charles Aznavour in the early 1950s, taking him on tour with her in France and the United States and recording some of his songs. At first she met with little success with U.S. audiences, who regarded her as downcast. After a glowing review by a prominent New York critic, however, her popularity grew, to the point where she eventually appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show eight times and at Carnegie Hall twice (1956 and 1957). Édith Piaf's signature song, "La vie en rose", was written in 1945 and was voted a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998. Bruno Coquatrix's famous Paris Olympia music hall is where Piaf achieved lasting fame, giving several series of concerts at the hall, the most famous venue in Paris, between January 1955 and October 1962. Excerpts from five of these concerts (1955, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962) were issued on record and CD and have never been out of print. The 1961 concerts, promised by Piaf in an effort to save the venue from bankruptcy, debuted her song "Non, je ne regrette rien". In April 1963, Piaf recorded her last song, "L'homme de Berlin". World War II edit: During World War II, she was a frequent performer at German Forces social gatherings in occupied France, and many considered her a traitor; following the war she stated that she had been working for the French Resistance. While there is no evidence of this, it does seem to be true that she was instrumental in helping a number of individuals (including at least one Jew) escape Nazi persecution. Throughout it all, she remained a national and international favorite. Piaf dated a Jewish pianist during this time and co-wrote a subtle protest song with Monnot. According to one story, singing for high-ranking Germans at the One Two Two Club earned Piaf the right to pose for photographs with French prisoners of war, to boost their morale. The Frenchmen were supposedly able to cut out their photos and use them as forged passport photos. Personal life edit: The love of Piaf's life, the married boxer Marcel Cerdan, died in a plane crash in October 1949, while flying from Paris to New York City to meet her. Cerdan's Air France flight, flown on a Lockheed Constellation, crashed in the Azores, killing everyone on board, including noted violinist Ginette Neveu. Piaf and Cerdan's affair made international headlines, as Cerdan was the former middleweight world champion and a legend in France in his own right. In 1951, Piaf was seriously injured in a car crash along with Charles Aznavour, breaking her arm and two ribs, and thereafter had serious difficulties arising from morphine and alcohol addictions. Two more near fatal car crashes exacerbated the situation.Jacques Pills, a singer, took her into rehabilitation on three different occasions to no avail. Piaf married Jacques Pills, her first husband, in 1952 (her matron of honour was Marlene Dietrich) and divorced him in 1956. In 1962, she wed Théo Sarapo (Theophanis Lamboukas), a Greek hairdresser-turned-singer and actor who was 20 years her junior. The couple sang together in some of her last engagements. Piaf lived in Belleville, Paris, with her parents from 1915-1934. From 1934-1941, she lived at 45 rue de Chézy in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. She lived at 45 rue Decazes in Marseille, France alone from 1941-1952 and with her Jacques Pills from 1953-1956. She continued to live there alone from 1956-1959. In her final years she lived at 23 rue Édouard Nortier in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France - alone from 1959-1962 and with Théo Sarapo from 1962-1963 until her death. Death and legacy edit: Piaf died of liver cancer at age 47 at her villa in Plascassier (Grasse), on the French Riviera, on 11 October 1963. She had been drifting in and out of consciousness for several months. Her last words were "Every damn fool thing you do in this life, you pay for." It is said that Sarapo drove her body back to Paris secretly so that fans would think she had died in her hometown. She is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris next to her daughter Marcelle, where her grave is among the most visited. Although she was denied a funeral mass by the Roman Catholic archbishop of Paris because of her lifestyle, her funeral procession drew tens of thousands of mourners onto the streets of Paris and the ceremony at the cemetery was attended by more than 100,000 fans.Charles Aznavour recalled that Piaf's funeral procession was the only time since the end of World War II that he saw Parisian traffic come to a complete stop. In Paris, a two-room museum is dedicated to her, the Musée Édith Piaf (5, Rue Crespin du Gast). In popular culture edit: Piaf's work and name can still be found in popular culture and music today. Numerous songs by Piaf are used in films and other media. Films such as Saving Private Ryan, Inception, Bull Durham, La Haine, The Dreamers and the animated film, Madagascar 3 all have Piaf's songs in them. Love Me If You Dare pays tribute to her song La Vie En Rose by including various versions of the song in its soundtrack., Musicians have paid tribute to her by covering her songs, for instance "Johnny, tu n'es pas un ange" was covered by Vaya Con Dios on their debut album. Furthermore, Piaf's life has been the subject of multiple films and plays: Films about Piaf edit: The film Piaf (1974) depicted her early years, and starred Brigitte Ariel, with early Piaf songs performed by Betty Mars. Piaf's relationship with Cerdan was also depicted in film by Claude Lelouch in the movie Édith et Marcel (1983), with Marcel Cerdan Jr. in the role of his father and Évelyne Bouix portraying Piaf. Piaf...Her Story...Her Songs (2003) is a film starring Raquel Bitton in her performance tribute to Édith Piaf. Bitton performs Piaf's most famous songs and describes her tempestuous life. Woven into the filmed concert is a luncheon in Paris, hosted by Bitton, in which some of Piaf's composers, friends, lovers, and family share their memories. These include Michel Rivgauche and Francis Lai, two of Piaf's composers, as well as Marcel Cerdan, Jr., son of the boxing champion who was her greatest love. La Vie en rose (2007), a film about her life directed by Olivier Dahan, debuted at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2007. Titled La Môme in France, the film stars Marion Cotillard in the role that won her the Academy Award for Best Actress (Oscar), as Piaf. Dahan's film follows Piaf's life from early childhood to her death in 1963. David Bret's 1988 biography, Piaf, A Passionate Life, was re-released by JR Books to coincide with the film's release. Plays about Piaf edit: Piaf (1978), by Pam Gems, Piaf Piaf (1988), by Juha Siltanen and Jorma Uotinen, The Sparrow and the Birdman By Raquel Bitton (1999) Commissioned by Theatreworks, Edith and Simone (2000 and 2006), by Ronny Verheyen, PIAF ... Her story ... Her songs" By Raquel Bitton (2000), Hearts ... Le Ballet des Coeurs By Raquel Bitton (1985) Choreography Michael Smuin,Set Designs Tony Walton,Costumes Willa Kim, Pure Piaf (2006), by Alex Ryer, No Regrets (2009), by Scotti Sween (Off-Off-Broadway), Piaf de Musical (1999 and 2009), a Dutch musical, Piaf, het legendarische verhaal van Edith Piaf(2009), by Yves Caspar, Edith Piaf Alive (2011), by Flo Ankah, "The Sparrow and the Mouse: Creating the Music of Edith Piaf" (2011) By Melanie Gall, "Tonight ... Piaf" (1989), by Joelle Rabu and Ted Galay, Directed by Ray Michal, "Piaf, her Songs, Her Loves" City Stage, Vancouver 1978, Directed by Ray Michal, "The Power of Piaf" by Lily Charpentier starring Daniele Pascal (1986), " Edith" by Pluto Panoussis and Daniele Pascal,(1998), "Piaf,A Passionate Life" by Daniele Pascal (2007 and 2008), " Hymne a L'amour-The Songs of Edith Piaf" by Daniele Pascal (2013), "Edith Piaf on Stage" by Leslie Fitzwater (2013), Songs edit: 1925 Comme un Moineau, 1933 Entre Saint-Ouen et Clignancourt, 1934 L'Étranger, 1935 Mon Apéro, La Java de Cézigue, Fais-Moi Valser, 1936 Les Mômes de la Clôche, J'Suis Mordue, Mon légionnaire, Le Contrebandier, La Fille et le Chien, La Julie Jolie, Va Danser, Chand d'Habits, Reste, Les Hiboux, Quand Même (from the movie La Garçonne), La Petite Boutique, Y'Avait du Soleil, Il N'Est Pas Distingué, Les Deux Ménétriers, Mon Amant de la Coloniale, C'est Toi le Plus Fort, Le Fanion de la Légion, J'Entends la Sirène, Ding, Din, Dong, Madeleine Qu'Avait du Cœur, Les Marins Ça Fait des Voyages, Simple Comme Bonjour, Le Mauvais Matelot, Celui Qui Ne Savait Pas Pleurer, 1937 Le Grand Voyage du Pauvre Nègre, Un Jeune Homme Chantait, Tout Fout le Camp, Ne M'Écris Pas, Partance (with Raymond Asso), Dans un Bouge du Vieux Port, Mon Cœur Est au Coin d'une Rue, 1938 С'est Lui Que Mon Cœur A Choisi, Paris-Méditerranée, La Java en Mineur, Browning, Le Chacal, Corrèqu'et Réguyer, 1939 Y'En A un de Trop, Elle Fréquentait la Rue Pigalle, Le Petit Monsieur Triste, Les Deux Copains, Je N'en Connais Pas la Fin, 1940 Embrasse-Moi, On Danse sur Ma Chanson, Sur une Colline, C'est la Moindre des Choses, Escale, La Fille de Joie Est Triste (L'Accordéoniste), 1941 Où Sont-Ils, Mes Petits Copains?, C'Était un Jour de Fête, C'est un Monsieur Très Distingué, J'ai Dansé avec l'Amour (from the movie Montmartre-sur-Seine), Tu Es Partout (from the movie Montmartre-sur-Seine), L'Homme des Bars, Le Vagabond, 1942 Jimmy, C'est Lui, Un Coin Tout Bleu (from the movie Montmartre-sur-Seine), Sans Y Penser, Un Monsieur Me Suit dans la Rue, 1943 J'ai Qu'à l'Regarder..., Le Chasseur de l'Hôtel, C'Était une Histoire d'Amour, Le Brun et le Blond, Monsieur Saint-Pierre, Coup de Grisou, De l'Autre Côté de la Rue, La Demoiselle du Cinqième, 1944 Les Deux Rengaines, Y'A Pas d'Printemps, Les Histoires de Coeur, C'est Toujours la Même Histoire, 1945 Le Disque Usé, Elle A..., Regarde-Moi Toujours Comme Ça, Les Gars Qui Marchaient, Il Riait, Monsieur Ernest A Réussi, 1946 La Vie en rose, Les Trois Cloches (with Les Compagnons de la chanson), Dans Ma Rue, J'M'En Fous Pas Mal, C'est Merveilleux (from the film Etoile sans Lumière), Adieu Mon Cœur, Le Chant du Pirate, Céline (with Les Compagnons de la Chanson), Le Petit Homme, Le Roi A Fait Battre Tambour (with Les Compagnons de la Chanson), Dans les Prisons de Nantes (with Les Compagnons de la Chanson), Mariage, Un Refrain Courait dans la Rue, Miss Otis Regrets, 1947 C'est pour Ça (from the film Neuf Garçons, Un Cœur), Qu'As-Tu Fait John?, Sophie (from the movie Neuf Garçons, Un Cœur), Le Geste, Si Tu Partais, Une Chanson à Trois Temps, Un Homme Comme les Autres, Les Cloches Sonnent, Johnny Fedora et Alice Blue Bonnet, Le Rideau Tombe Avant la Fin, Elle Avait Son Sourire, 1948 Monsieur Lenoble, Les Amants de Paris, Il A Chanté, Les Vieux Bateaux, Il Pleut, Cousu de Fil Blanc, Amour du mois de Mai, Monsieur X, 1949 Bal dans Ma Rue, Pour Moi Tout' Seule, Pleure Pas, Le Prisonnier de la Tour (Si le Roi Savait Ça Isabelle), L'Orgue des Amoureux, Dany, Paris (from the movie L'Homme aux Mains d'Argile), Hymne à l'amour, 1950 Hymne à l'amour, Le Chevalier de Paris, Il Fait Bon T'Aimer, La P'Tite Marie, Tous les Amoureux Chantent, Il Y Avait, C'est d'la Faute à Tes Yeux, C'est un Gars, Hymn to Love, Autumn Leaves, The Three Bells, Le Ciel Est Fermé, La Fête Continue, Simply a Waltz, La Vie en rose (English version), 1951 Padam... Padam..., Avant l'Heure, L'Homme Que J'aimerai, Du Matin Jusqu'au soir, Demain (Il Fera Jour), C'Est Toi (with Eddie Constantine), Rien de Rien, Si, Si, Si, Si (with Eddie Constantine), À l'Enseigne de la Fille sans Cœur, Télégramme, Une Enfant, Plus Bleu Que Tes Yeux, Le Noël de la Rue, La Valse de l'Amour, La Rue aux Chansons, Jezebel, Chante-Moi (with M. Jiteau), Chanson de Catherine, Chanson Bleue, Je Hais les Dimanches, 1952 Au Bal de la Chance, Elle A Dit, Notre-Dame de Paris, Mon Ami M'A Donné, Je T'Ai dans la Peau (from the movie Boum sur Paris), Monsieur et Madame, Ça Gueule Ça, Madame (with Jacques Pills) (from the movie Boum sur Paris), 1953 Bravo pour le Clown, Sœur Anne, N'Y Va Pas Manuel, Les Amants de Venise, L'Effet Qu'Tu M'Fais, Johnny, Tu N'es Pas un Ange, Jean et Martine, Et Moi..., Pour Qu'Elle Soit Jolie Ma Chanson (with Jacques Pills) (from the movie Boum sur Paris), Les Croix, Le Bel Indifférent, Heureuse, 1954 La Goualante du Pauvre Jean, Enfin le Printemps, Retour, Mea Culpa, Le "Ça Ira" (from the movie Si Versailles M'Était Conté), Avec Ce Soleil, L'Homme au Piano, Sérénade du Pavé (from the movie French Cancan), Sous Le Ciel de Paris, 1955 L'Accordéoniste, Un Grand Amour Qui S'Achève, Miséricorde, C'est à Hambourg, Légende, Le Chemin des Forains, 1956 Heaven Have Mercy, One Little Man, 'Cause I Love You, Chante-Moi (English), Don't Cry, I Shouldn't Care, My Lost Melody, Avant Nous, Et Pourtant, Marie la Française, Les Amants d'un Jour, L'Homme à la Moto, Soudain une Vallée, Une Dame, Toi Qui Sais, 1957 La Foule, Les Prisons du Roy, Opinion Publique, Salle d'Attente, Les Grognards, Comme Moi, 1958 C'est un Homme Terrible, Je Me Souviens d'une Chanson, Je Sais Comment, Tatave, Les Orgues de Barbarie, Eden Blues, Le Gitan et la Fille, Fais Comme Si, Le Ballet des Cœurs, Les Amants de Demain, Les Neiges de Finlande, Tant Qu'Il Y Aura des Jours, Un Étranger, Mon Manège à Moi, 1959 Milord, T'Es Beau, Tu Sais, 1960 Non, je ne regrette rien, La Vie, l'Amour, Rue de Siam, Jean l'Espagnol, La Belle Histoire d'Amour, La Ville Inconnue, Non, La Vie N'Est Pas Triste, Kiosque à Journaux, Le Métro de Paris, Cri du Cœur, Les Blouses Blanches, Les Flons-Flons du Bal, Les Mots d'Amour, T'Es l'Homme Qu'Il Me Faut, Mon Dieu, Boulevard du Crime, C'est l'Amour, Des Histoires, Ouragan, Je Suis à Toi, Les Amants Merveilleux, Je M'Imagine, Jérusalem, Le Vieux Piano, 1961 C'est Peut-Être Ça, Les Bleuets d'Azur, Quand Tu Dors, Mon Vieux Lucien, Le Dénicheur, J'N'Attends Plus Rien, J'En Ai Passé des Nuits, Exodus, Faut Pas Qu'Il Se Figure, Les Amants (with Charles Dumont), No Regrets, Le Billard Électrique, Marie-Trottoir, Qu'Il Était Triste Cet Anglais, Toujours Aimer, Mon Dieu (English version), Le Bruit des Villes, Dans Leur Baiser, 1962 À Quoi Ça Sert L'Amour?, Le Droit d'Aimer, À Quoi Ça Sert L'Amour? (with Théo Sarapo), Fallait-Il, Une Valse, Inconnu Excepte de Dieu (with Charles Dumont), Quatorze Juillet, Les Amants de Teruel (with Mikis Theodorakis/Jacques Plante), Roulez Tambours, Musique à Tout Va, Le Rendez-Vous, Toi, Tu l'Entends Pas!, Carmen's Story, On Cherche un Auguste, Ça Fait Drôle, Emporte-Moi, Polichinelle, Le Petit Brouillard (Un Petit Brouillard), Le Diable de la Bastille, Elle Chantait (with Théo Sarapo), 1963 C'Était Pas Moi, Le Chant d'Amour, Tiens, V'là un Marin, J'En Ai Tant Vu, Traqué, Les Gens, Margot Cœur Gros, Monsieur Incognito, Un Dimanche à Londres, L'Homme de Berlin (her last recording), Filmography edit: La garçonne (1936), Jean de Limur, Montmartre-sur-Seine (1941), Georges Lacombe, Étoile sans lumière (1946), Marcel Blistène, Neuf garçons, un cœur (1947), Georges Freedland, Si Versailles m'était conté (1954), Sacha Guitry, French Cancan (1954), Jean Renoir, Música de Siempre (1958), sang La vida en rosa, the Spanish version of "La Vie en rose"., Les Amants de demain (1959), Marcel Blistène, Theatre credit edit: Le Bel Indifférent (1940), Jean Cocteau
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