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Edith Piaf (December 19, 1915 - October 11, 1963) was a French singer.
Born ƒdith Giovanna Gassion in Paris, France, she was a street singer from
the age of 15 who would become France's most beloved songstress.
In 1935, Edith was discovered by a nightclub owner whose club [Piaf1.jpg]
was frequented by the upper and lower classes alike. He
convinced Edith to sing despite her extreme nervousness, and gave her the
nickname that would stay with her for the rest of her life: La Mome Piaf
(The Little Sparrow). From this she took her stage name. In 1940, Jean
Cocteau wrote the successful play Le Bel Indifferent for her to star in.
The product of a mother who worked as a cafe singer and father who was a
well-known acrobat, her childhood and adult life was filled with tragedy.
Her music reflected her life, her specialty was the poignant ballad, and
soon all of Paris was talking about the waif with the heartbreaking voice.
She began to make friends with famous people, such as the actor Maurice
Chevalier and the poet Jacques Borgeat.
She wrote her signature song, La Vie en Rose, in the middle of the German
Occupation in World War II. While the Germans occupied Paris, she was in
great demand and very successful. Singing for high-ranking Germans at the
One Two Two Club earned Edith Piaf the right to pose for photos with French
prisoners of war, ostensibly as a morale-boosting exercise. Once in
possession of their celebrity photos, prisoners were able to cut out their
own images and use them in forged papers as part of escape plans. Today,
Edith Piaf's association with the French Resistance is well known and many
owe their lives to her as a result. After the war, Edith toured Europe, the
United States, and South America, becoming an internationally known figure.
She helped to launch the career of Charles Aznavour, taking him on tour with
her in France and to the United States.
Piaf was married twice. Her first husband was Jacques Pills, a singer; they
married in 1952 and later divorced. Her second husband, Theophanis Lamboukas
(a.k.a. ThŽo Sarapo), a hairdressed turned singer and actor; they married in
1962. She had one child, a daughter, Marcelle, who died at the age of two in
1935; the child's father was Louis Dupont, a lover of Piaf's.
Piaf died of cancer on the same day as her friend, Jean Cocteau, and was
buried in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris. Although forbidden a Mass by
the Roman Catholic archbishop of Paris (because of her lifestyle), her
funeral procession drew hundreds of thousands of mourners onto the streets
of Paris and the ceremony at the Cemetery was jammed with more than forty
thousand fans. Charles Aznavour recalled that Piaf's funeral procession was
the only time, since the end of World War II, that Parisian traffic came to
a complete stop.
There is a museum dedicated to Piaf, the MusŽe Edith Piaf at 5, rue Crespin
du Gast, 75011, Paris.