” You are my ride. This famous phrase, sung by Édith Piaf, is known to all. The story of his life is nevertheless more secret. “Behind this Bonaparte brow,” as his friend Cocteau said, and his frail demeanor, hid a prodigy. His magnetism, in life as on stage, continues to this day.
A heritage explored on the Arte.tv site in the documentary “Piaf – Without love we are nothing at all”, visible until the end of March 2022. Here are five key information that we can take away from this immersed in the life of the Kid.
A particularly difficult childhood
Born at 72 rue de Belleville, in Paris, Édith Piaf is an abused child. His mother, singer Line Marsa, abandoned him from birth. She will not remember her until years later, to extract money from him. She died drunk and drugged, after being in a remand center (1945). Her father, Louis Gassion, who went to war in 1915, returns on leave, takes back his daughter and entrusts her to her mother, the unloving owner of a brothel in Normandy. The affection she receives is that of the residents, she is their mascot. Piaf’s whole life will be melodrama, and melodrama is popular.
A limitless belief in the hereafter
Sick, Edith Piaf was almost blind during her childhood. After praying to Sainte-Thérèse de Lisieux, taken by the residents of the brothel, Edith regains her sight. Miracle or medicine? All her life, she will believe in the power of the hereafter. When she experiences tragic moments in her life, she will also appeal to spiritualism.
Pigalle, its first HQ
In 1930, Edith is 15 years old and fed up. She runs away and arrives in Paris, where the street is her homeland, her universe. Accompanied by her friend Momone (Simone Berteaut), she hangs out with the men of Pigalle, bars are her daily life. The two accomplices stand up and earn enough to eat by singing in the street. When she fell pregnant with a delivery man she met in the neighborhood, she lost her child a few months after birth. She does the musette balls and tumbles down the slope.
The origin of her nickname, the “Môme” Piaf
One evening in October, a man passes through the beautiful neighborhoods and hear it. It’s Louis Leplée, owner of the neighboring cabaret, Gerny’s. He will play on the aspect of this frumpy kid, who sings to blow his vocal cords. Banco, he fills his cabaret. In a week, all of Paris is there to see the new curiosity. But quickly, the voice of the little one takes them in the pit of the stomach. Leplée found him a name: the kid Piaf. A few months later, Louis Leplée is assassinated by bandits, with a revolver shot. Devastated by grief for several months, Edith goes up the slope and sings to the European, records with Polydor, it is the consecration. La Môme, it’s over, she has become Edith Piaf. Its fame continues to increase, and it multiplies the tours in the free zone. In 1945, the war ended. She is 30 years old, and is at her best.
The tragedy of her first love
Tragic fatality? Is she magnetized by a new fateful date? As soon as she sees him, she knows it, it’s him. She will finally feel protected by this nice guy. Marcel Cerdan does not resist this absolute desire that she has to love him. Become world champion, divided between his boxing fights and his family life in Casablanca, he is rarely there. She wrote “The Hymn to Love” at that time, and wrote him wonderful letters. “Piaf is love in its first state”, sums up the writer Claude-Jean Philippe. On October 28, 1949, after another match, Marcel took the plane to find her and died in an accident in the Azores archipelago. That same evening, Edith will sing five songs, before losing consciousness on the sixth, “The Hymn to Love”. She will then live long, extremely difficult months. After a car accident in 1958, numerous operations, a new marriage and a last Olympia like a farewell, Édith Piaf died on October 10, 1963, at the age of 47.