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Edith Piaf Biography
- When one thinks of Edith Piaf, one thinks of love, sorrow and music. One did not breathe without the other two. Born in Paris practically on the streets on December 19, 1915, she struggled from day one, the daughter of street performers. The mother, a singer, eventually abandoned both Edith and her father for a solo career. Piaf spent her youth entertaining passers-by, receiving little formal education in the process. She often accompanied her fathers acrobat street act with her singing and at various times was forced to live with various relatives, in alleys or in cheap hotels. An aborted love affair left her with a baby girl at age 17, but little Marcelle died of meningitis at 2 years old. Devastated, Piaf returned to the streets she knew, now performing solo. Her fortunes finally changed when an impresario, Louis Leplee, mesmerized by what he heard, offered the starving but talented urchin a contract. He alone was responsible for taking her off the streets at age 20 and changing her name from Edith Gassion to "La Mome Piaf" (or "Kid Sparrow"). Piaf grew in status entertaining in elegant cafés and cabarets and became a singing sensation amid the chic French society with her throbbing vocals and raw, emotional power. From 1936 Piaf recorded many albums and eventually became one of the highest paid stars in the world. She was first embroiled in scandal when her mentor, Leplee, was murdered and she was held for questioning. She managed to survive the messy affair and carry on while her ever-growing society circle now began to include such elite members as writer/director Jean Cocteau. Piaf also took to writing and composing around this time; one of the over 80 songs she wrote included her signature standard, "La vie en rose." Although she appeared sporadically in films, it was live audiences that sustained her. Piaf later toured the United States to branch out internationally. America was slow to accept the melodramatic Piaf but she persevered and eventually won legions of fans. She also continued a series of affairs with the likes of actor Paul Meurisse, composer Henry Contet and, most notably, boxing champion Marcel Cerdan. The latters death in a 1949 plane crash left Piaf devastated and many claim this was the beginning of her downfall. Piaf had a life-long habit of involving herself heart and soul in the launching of her lovers careers. Over the years this would include Yves Montand, Charles Aznavour and Eddie Constantine. Two serious car accidents suffered in 1951 led to a morphine and alcohol addiction that left Piafs life skidding out of control despite a potentially happy marriage in 1952 to actor Jacques Pills. Though slowly crippled by severe arthritis, a series of spectacular comebacks in concert and recordings would follow over the years but her health would slowly waste her away. Her last appearance was at the Paris Olympia, racked and hunched over with pain and barely able to stand. Her last recorded song was "Lhomme de Berlin" in 1963, the year of her death. She died in poverty on the same day as her friend Cocteau and at the age of 47, the same age as her equally tortured American counterpart, Judy Garland. Piaf left many debts for her second husband (and protégé) Theo Sarapo, who was twenty years younger (he died in 1970, at age 34). Piafs funeral was massive yet, because of her lifestyle, was forbidden a Mass. It was the only time since WWII that Parisian traffic was completely stopped. A museum was dedicated in her honor. Piaf remains the epitome of the French singer in heart, soul, style and passion; for many Piaf IS France.
Edith Piaf Filmography
- (2011) L'occupation intime as Herself (archive footage)
- (2010) L'Occupation sans relâche - Les artistes pendant la guerre as Herself (archive footage)
- (2010) No me la puc treure del cap as Herself (archive footage)
- (2007) Banda sonora as Herself (archive footage)
- (2007) Empreintes as Herself (archive footage)
- (2006) Legends as Herself (archive footage)
- (2006) Queens of Heartache as Herself (archive footage)
- (2005) Cançons per no oblidar, el disc de la Marató as Herself (archive footage)
- (2005) La Marató 2005 as Herself (archive footage)
- (2005) Les grands du rire as Herself (archive footage)
- (2004) Tage und Nächte in Paris as Herself (archive footage)
- (2003) Piaf: Her Story, Her Songs as (archive footage)
- (2002) Les hommes de Piaf as Herself (archive footage)
- (2000) Backstory as Herself (archive footage)
- (1998) Vivement dimanche as Herself (archive footage)
- (1977) All You Need Is Love as Herself (archive footage)
- (1976) Chantons sous l'occupation as Herself (archive footage)
- (1961) Pariser Journal as Herself
- (1959) Cinq colonnes à la une as Herself
- (1959) Les amants de demain as Simone
- (1958) Música de siempre as
- (1957) Discorama as Herself
- (1954) French Cancan as Eugénie Buffet
- (1954) Si Versailles m'était conté as Une fille du peuple
- (1953) Boum sur Paris as Herself / En personne
- (1952) La joie de vivre as Herself
- (1952) La joie de vivre as Herself - Main guest
- (1951) Paris chante toujours! as Herself / En personne
- (1950) Four Star Revue as Herself - Guest French Nightclub Vocalist
- (1950) Showtime, U.S.A. as Herself
- (1950) The Faye Emerson Show as Herself
- (1950) The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show as Herself (singing voice)
- (1949) The Voice of Firestone as Herself
- (1948) Neuf garçons, un coeur as Christine
- (1948) Toast of the Town as Herself
- (1948) Toast of the Town as Herself (as Edith Piaf)
- (1948) Toast of the Town as Singer
- (1948) Toast of the Town as Singer (as Edith Piaf)
- (1946) Étoile sans lumière as Madeleine
- (1941) Montmartre sur Seine as Lily (as Edith Piaf)
- (1936) La garçonne as
Edith Piaf Trivia and Facts
- Her stage name, piaf, is a slang word for small bird, which fitted her physical appearance.
- Her grave is situated in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France.
- She is mentioned in the song "Lady Nina" by rock band Marillion.
- Helped to launch many careers including that of Yves Montand , Eddie Constantine and her husband Théo Sarapo.
- Was romantically involved with boxer Marcel Cerdan when he died tragically in a plane crash (1949).
- She was very good friends with Marlene Dietrich , who was the maid of honor at her wedding to Jacques Pills.
- Had a child named Marcelle who died at the age of two, in 1935, from meningitis.
- Her father Louis-Alphonse Gassion was an acrobat, her mother Annetta Giovanna Maillard was a street singer.
- Despite many problems throughout her career, Piaf eventually became the most highly paid star in the world.
- Her mother was half Italian by her father and half Kabyle (Algerian) on her mothers side.
- She actually died at Plascassier, Grasse parish, in the department of Alpes-Maritimes and not Paris, but her death wasnt made public until the body was returned to her birth city.
- Is portrayed by Marion Cotillard in La môme (2007) , a biopic about her life.
- Among her most popular songs are "Mon légionnaire" (1936), "La vie en rose" (1945), "Hymne à lamour" (1949), "Sous le ciel de Paris" (1954), "Milord" (1959) and, the probably best known, "Je ne regrette rien" (1960).
- Her song "La vie en rose" was voted a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998.
- After living with her maternal grandmother for a short time, she was raised by her paternal grandmother, who ran a brothel in Normandy.
- Daughter of Louis-Alphonse Gassion and wife Annetta Giovanna Maillard.
- Her only child, a daughter Marcelle Dupont, died in 1935 from a meningitis aged 2.
- On 12 June 2012, Piaf and jazz trumpeter Miles Davis were pictured on separate commemorative postage stamps in a joint issue by the USA and France. The nondenominated forever USA stamps had an initial issue price of 45¢; each; the French stamps had denominations of 0,60 EUR (Davis) and 0,89 EUR (Piaf).
Edith Piaf Quotes
- You never know a guy till youve tried him in bed. You know more about a guy in one night in bed than you do in months of conversation. In the sack, they cant cheat!
- For me, singing is a way of escaping. It is another world. Im no longer on earth.
Edith Piaf Photoshoots
- "Ciné-Revue" (Belgium), 28 June 1962, Vol. 42, Iss. 26, pg. 23, "Télé-revue"
- "Ciné-Revue" (France), 28 June 1962, Vol. 42, Iss. 26, pg. 26, by: Jean Marcilly, "Ciné-"Disco"-Revue"
- "Music Hall" (France), February 1961, Iss. 1, pg. 20-21, by: Pierre Fournier, "Piaf"