Sunday, December 20, 2009

French Songbird

The lovely lady above is our 121st hero(ine) of the day with a small caveat. Her name is Edith Piaf, and she was born yesterday in the year 1915, in Paris, France. Since there was no hero of this day, I decided to save our little heroine above for today. Hey, it is my blog, and I get to make (and break) the rules as I see fit. The details of her birth are a bit mysterious, as is most of her life. Mystery helps a woman a lot, it makes her sexy, and unattainable, for men it just makes us surly and uncommunicative. Her father was a street acrobat, and it was at the age of 14 that she first sang in public as a part of her father's "act." She was "discovered" in 1935 by club owner Louis Leplee, who taught her the basics of stage presence, picked out what would soon be her trademark attire (a black dress), and gave her the nickname which would stick with her forever "the Little Sparrow." That nickname was, in part, based upon her stature she was only 4 feet 8 inches tall, and sparrow was a pretty apt description. Leplee gave her the big break she needed, and a star was on her way to being born. A small hitch did happen, when in 1936 Leplee was murdered, and Piaf was deemed to be a suspect. She was followed around by the French police, and was acquitted of being an accomplice in the crime. However, it was determined that the killers were mobsters that had ties with Piaf, and she was overwhelmed by negative media attention. Her new "manager" Raymond Asso would help her cuts ties with the "bad men" from her life, and helped to rehabilitate her image. And what a rehabilitation it was, she was on her way to superstar status, and would become France's most popular entertainer. Songs like "Le Vie en Rose" and "Non je ne regrette rein," (the one we all know from Saving Private Ryan), made her an international star. It was a life, like many of lives, that had its share of tragedy. The great love of her life, a boxer by the name of Marcel Cerdan, was married with three children, and was killed in a plan crash in 1949 on his way to see Piaf in New York. A car crash in 1951 severely injured her, and an addiction to morphine soon followed. She continued to sing until her death from liver cancer in 1963, and so for all those lovely, haunting songs that bring a tear to many a Frenchman's eye, Edith Piaf (December 19th, 1915- October 10th, 1963, at the age of 47), you are my heroine of the day.

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