Édith Piaf’s Moving Performance of ‘La Vie en Rose’ on French TV, 1954

Édith Piaf’s life was any­thing but rosy. Born in a Parisian slum, she was aban­doned by her moth­er and lived for awhile in a broth­el run by her grand­moth­er. As a teenag­er she sang on the streets for mon­ey. She was addict­ed to alco­hol and drugs for much of her life, and her lat­er years were marred by chron­ic pain. Through it all, Piaf man­aged to hold onto a basi­cal­ly opti­mistic view of life. She sang with a lyri­cal aban­don that seemed to tran­scend the pain and sor­row of liv­ing.

On April 3, 1954 Piaf was the guest of hon­or on the French TV show La Joie de Vivre. She was 38 years old but looked much old­er. She had recent­ly under­gone a gru­el­ing series of “aver­sion ther­a­py” treat­ments for alco­holism, and was by that time in the habit of tak­ing mor­phine before going onstage. Cor­ti­sone treat­ments for arthri­tis made the usu­al­ly wire-thin singer look puffy. But when Piaf launch­es into her sig­na­ture song, “La Vie en Rose” (see above), all of that is left behind.

Nine years after this per­for­mance, when Piaf died, her friend Jean Cocteau said of her: “Like all those who live on courage, she did­n’t think about death–she defied it. Only her voice remains, that splen­did voice like black vel­vet.”

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Comments (9)
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  • Pongskorn Saipetch says:


  • Ray Gibson says:


  • Janegrace says:

    So beau­ti­ful

  • Dinah DBest says:

    Amaz­ing voice

  • trisha says:

    Edith Piaf was giv­en a bless­ing with her singing voice. She was an amaz­ing per­son. From the dregs of soci­ety she became the icon of France I adore her music and I enjoy read­ing as much as I can on her life.

  • J. Megill says:

    Hear voice was one of kind per­haps nev­er to equaled in a French love song.

  • Julie Biddle says:

    I’ve heard oth­er singers try to cov­er this. Some do a pret­ty good job, but it’s a decep­tive­ly sim­ple song and you have to have lived it to sing it.

    The fun­ni­est how­ev­er are those with­out a real com­mand of French who try to sing it, par­tic­u­lar­ly Amer­i­cans; the accent and tim­ing of the lan­guage, the sub­tle empha­sis is miss­ing and it works against them. It comes out as Je vois l’avion rose — I see the pink air­plane.

  • Warren Mercer says:

    I am an Army Brat. I was liv­ing in a small farm­ing vil­lage with my fam­i­ly. At the age of sev­en or eight my Dad would play his radio a lot when we drove around the French coun­try­side, and I recall Ms. Piaf com­ing on the radio singing songs. She was very dif­fer­ent and I nev­er for­got her unusu­al yet fas­ci­nat­ing style of vocal­iz­ing. I also remem­ber rid­ing on the Carousel and hear­ing her music blast­ing over the pub­lic address sys­tem as I des­per­ate­ly reached out to pull the ring from the monkey’s nose. WHAT A BLAST FROM THE PAST, AND A FOND MEMORY. Thank you Madamoi­sel!

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