December 19, 1915
October 11, 1963 in Paris
Also Known As:
Edith Piaf, fullname Edith Giovanna Gassion, was a noted French singer (mezzo-soprano) and actress.
Type of Songs:
She is especially known for her interpretation of French ballads (chansons). Some of her notable songs are La Vie en rose (“Life in Pink"), Non, je ne regrette rien (“No, I Don't Regret Anything”), Hymne à L'Amour ("Hymn to Love") and Les Trois Cloches ("The Three Bells").
Edith Piaf had a very difficult childhood; abandoned by her mother (Annetta Giovanna Maillard) while still an infant, she was raised by her paternal grandmother who was a housekeeper in a brothel. She then lived with her father (Louis-Alphonse Gassion), a circus acrobat, and at the age of 15, started singing in Paris streets. Piaf was eventually discovered by Louis Leplée, owner of Cabaret Gerny, who gave her the stage name la môme piaf ("the little sparrow"). She would move on to perform in the music halls of Paris, do recordings, appear on films and pen two books. After World War 2, she toured the United States, South America and Europe.
Edith Piaf's romantic relationships was marred with tragedy. At 16 years old, she fell in love with Louis Dupont; their daughter (Marcelle) died of meningitis before the age of two. She had a relationship with the boxer Marcel Cerdan, which tragically ended when Cerdan died in a plane crash in 1949. In 1952, she married singer Jacques Pills, but they divorced four years later. In 1962, she married singer/actor Theo Sarapo; they would stay together until her death.
Piaf had her theatrical debut in 1935. Songwriters such as Michel Emer and Marguerite Monnot (a student of Nadia Boulanger) wrote pieces for her. She appeared in the 1946 film Étoile sans lumière (“Star Without Light”). Other films she appeared in include La garçonne and Montmartre-sur-Seine. She penned two books; Au bal de la chance (“At the Ball of Fortune”) published in 1958 and Ma vie (“My Life”) published in 1964.