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Know About Edith Piaf?

A guide by Gary F. Taylor "GFT" (Biloxi, MS USA)
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

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According to legend, French singer Edith Piaf (1915-1963) was born on a sidewalk in Paris. True or not, she was the daughter of circus acrobat Jean Gassion and street singer and part-time prostitute Annetta Maillard. Neither Gassion nor Maillard were able to care for the child, so the infant Edith was given to Gassion's mother, a brothel-keeper, to raise. As soon as she reached childhood Gassion trained Edith as an acrobat, and for several years she worked with him as a circus acrobat.

By the 1930s Edith Gassion left the circus and returned to Paris, where she sang for pennies on street corners and (according to some biographers) also worked as a prostitute. In 1935 she was discovered by nightclub owner Louis Leplee, who starred her at the popular Parisian nightspot "Gernys" as "Le Mome Piaf" (The Little Sparrow.) A tiny woman standing 4'8", she had a powerful, unique voice and a world-weary but passionate image and she soon took Paris by storm. She soon dropped the surname Gassion in favor the stage name Piaf.

Piaf would prove as famous for her scandals as for her talents. Louis Leplee was murdered, and for a time she was considered a suspect in his death; she had notorious affairs with such well-known men as business leader Raymond Asso, singer Paul Meurisse, and artist Jean Cocteau, to name but a few. During World War II, she was a frequent performer at Nazi social gatherings in occupied France, and many considered her a traitor; following the war she claimed to have been working for the French resistance. While there is no evidence of this per se, 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, amazingly, she remained a national and international favorite.

Although she continued to work until near the end of her life, her final years were marked by tragedy. In 1951 she was seriously injured in a car crash; already a heavy drinker, she turned first to morphine and later to heroin to relieve the pain and was soon addicted. She died of cancer in Paris in 1963.


On CD

Piaf is one of the few French singers to have a genuinely international following, and many consider her the single greatest chanteuse of the 20th Century. Consequently, a great deal of her work is available to the home market. Edith Piaf: Her Greatest Recordings 1935-1943 offers an excellent collection of her pre-War and Occupied France era; The Voice of the Sparrow: The Very Best of Edith Piaf presents her best-known recordings of the post-war era. Both are inexpensive, but strictly speaking an artist of Piaf's magnitude requires a box set such as the pricey 30th Anniversaire - Coffret 10 CD [Import].


On Film

Piaf occasionally appeared as an actress, but films available to the home market are few and far between. Available films include French Can-Can [VHS] and Fabulous Versailles (Royal Affairs in Versailles) 1954-France [VHS]. Piaf may also be seen in the French documentary Edith Piaf - A Passionate Life. She often heard to great effect in film soundtracks, including such films as Amelie, Bull Durham, and Saving Private Ryan (Single-Disc Special Limited Edition).


In Print

Piaf has been the subject of numerous biographies. Her autobiography My Life (Peter Owen Modern Classic), which she dictated to journalist Jean Noli (who completed it after her death) is remarkably candid. Other memorable works include Piaf, Edith Piaf: 25 chansons (French Edition), and many others.

Products mentioned include:
On CD
1.  Edith Piaf: Her Greatest Recordings 1935-1943  by Edith Piaf
Used & New from: $2.28
4.9 out of 5 stars   (10)
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2.  The Voice of the Sparrow: The Very Best of Edith Piaf  by Edith Piaf
$10.00 Used & New from: $0.01
4.7 out of 5 stars   (141) | 1 customer discussion
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3.  30th Anniversaire - Coffret 10 CD [Import] [Box set]  by Edith Piaf
Used & New from: $72.58
4.6 out of 5 stars   (5)
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On Film
4.  French Can-Can [VHS] [NTSC] [Color]  VHS Jean Gabin
Used & New from: $16.49
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5.  Fabulous Versailles (Royal Affairs in Versailles) 1954-France [VHS] [Black & White] [Dubbed] [NTSC]  VHS Jean Marais
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6.  Edith Piaf - A Passionate Life [Color] [NTSC]  DVD ~ Edith Piaf
$12.95 Used & New from: $1.09
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7.  Amelie [Anamorphic] [Closed-captioned] [Color] [NTSC] [Subtitled] [Widescreen]  DVD ~ Audrey Tautou
$15.59 Used & New from: $0.01
4.6 out of 5 stars   (1,804) | 6 customer discussions
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8.  Bull Durham [Multiple Formats] [Anamorphic] [Closed-captioned] [Color] [Dolby] [Dubbed] [NTSC] [Special Edition] [Subtitled] [Widescreen]  DVD ~ Kevin Costner
$5.10 Used & New from: $0.01
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9.  Saving Private Ryan (Single-Disc Special Limited Edition) [AC-3] [Anamorphic] [Closed-captioned] [Color] [Dolby] [Limited Edition] [NTSC] [Special Edition] [Widescreen]  DVD ~ Tom Hanks
$9.66 Used & New from: $0.01
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In Print
10.  My Life (Peter Owen Modern Classic)  by Edith Piaf
Used & New from: $3.22
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11.  Piaf  by Margaret Crosland
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12.  Edith Piaf: 25 chansons (French Edition)  by Edith Piaf
Used & New from: $22.59
5.0 out of 5 stars   (1)
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Customer Discussions about products in this guide
Discussion Replies Latest Post
subtitle supports 0 Jan 15, 2014
Slipcover 0 Jul 8, 2013
Digital copy? 0 May 8, 2013
Amazon Kindle Download 0 May 16, 2012
saving private ryan 3 Nov 18, 2011
$14.99 at Costco!!! 0 Feb 26, 2011
French Singers like Edith Piaf 2 Jan 1, 2011
Saving Private Ryan Blu-ray 5 Nov 27, 2010
come on amaon price match wal mart on Bull Durham 0 Nov 26, 2010
Subtitles / Sous-titres 0 Apr 21, 2010
Why is it R rated? 6 Apr 16, 2010
Animation using La Noyée from the Amelie Soundtrack 2 Feb 17, 2010
 
   

About this Guide

 

Author

Gary F. Taylor "GFT" (Biloxi, MS USA)
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Qualifications: professional neurotic
Last updated: 7/8/04
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