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"La vie en rose" - A Look At the Life About Famous French Singer Edith Piaf
La vie en rose, based on the life of Édith Piaf (1915-1963), and released in 2007 is probably one of the most emotionally impactful movies I have seen. The movie was released in Europe in February 2007 and hit the United States in April that year. Marion Cotillard who played the starring role as Édith was so effective that her talent won and earned her awards, including the Best Actress Academy Award in 2008. If you have not seen La vie en rose, I highly recommend it. The tail of the movie is gut wrenching. A very sickly and physically ailing Édith is helped out onto the stage singing her “No regrets” song and it’s very emotionallky powerful.
This movie is biographical in nature of the life of Édith beginning with the effects of an alcoholic mother, Annetta Giovanna Maillard, who sang in the streets and her father, Louis-Alphonse Gassion, who performed circus-like shows. And it doesn’t stop there; her father’s mother—her grandmother—ran a brothel, the women of which helped to look after her as depicted in the movie. As she grows up, she has different living experiences with each of them.
Édith was born Édith Giovanna Gassion in Paris, France on December 19, 1915. When she was 17, she was in love with a boy and had a baby named Marcelle who died from meningitis when she was only two years old. When Édith was 20 years old, she, too, was singing in the streets. Her life was surrounded with alcohol and one heart ache after another. After her mother had abandoned her, she would be on the streets with her father singing while he performed his circus act.
A Career Takes Off
When she met Louis Leplee, a performance organizer, her life began to change because of her singing voice. He changed her name to "La Mome Piaf" which meant "Kid Sparrow.” Soon, her status changed with the recording of albums and she became a singing sensation. Unfortunately, Leplee was murdered and she had to convince others she had nothing to do with it.
One of her most popular songs was Non, je ne regrette rien (1960), which means, No, I have no regrets (listen to the youtube video of an old live performance; even though it is in French, the sense of pain and determination come through her singing). Another signature song was La vie en rose (1945).
Love and Addiction
Édith had an affair with a famous boxer at the time, Marcel Cerdan, who was killed in a plane crash in 1949. After Marcel died, her whole world crashed as did she after a couple of bad car accidents. In 1951, one accident caused a morphine addiction as well as more alcohol. In 1952, she married Jacques Pills and continued to deal with a serious arthritic condition. This marriage would only last four years. Interestingly, her maid of honor at this wedding was Marlene Dietrich.
Édith would have some performances, but her health declined. In 1963, she recorded her last song, L'homme de Berlin, which year she also died from liver cancer. She was only 47. She was very poor when she died which her second husband (married 1962), Theo Sarapo, was left with. Sarapo was 20 years younger and she helped start his career.
End of Life Came Too Soon
Édith died of liver cancer in France on October 10, 1963. Once you study her life and see the movie about her life, all you think about is her music, those she loved and the sadness she experienced. Her funeral was incredibly packed (more than 100,000 mourners and fans) and allegedly it was the only time traffic had been at a standstill since World War II. She wasn’t permitted a mass funeral because her lifestyle was unapproved. Édith’s gravesite is located at the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France and she is buried next to her daughter.