Charles Aznavour on the perils of fame, learning from Piaf, and loving Montreal
Beloved French singer Charles Aznavour died on Oct. 1, after a heart attack. He was 94.
His career spanned 8 decades. He recorded over 1400 songs, sold a hundred million records, acted in over 60 movies and had a successful television career. In 1998, CNN named him entertainer of the century, beating out the likes of Elvis and Bob Dylan.
His music matured with the years, and he continued to perform until the end of his life.
Aznavour was born in Paris on May 22nd, 1924. His Armenian parents had fled their country after the genocide.
He acted and sang his way to the top, performing in cabarets during the Second World War, while his parents made their apartment a safe house to hide Jews and members of the resistance from the Nazis.
French cultural icon Edith Piaf became his adviser. He wrote songs for her, and opened for Piaf at the Moulin Rouge. Many years later, Aznavour passed what he had learned from Piaf along to another young performer — Liza Minnelli.
Aznavour lived in Quebec for two years, from 1948 to 1950. In 2008, he was named an honorary officer of the Order of Canada.
In 1974, when Aznavour was back in Canada, he came to the CBC studios in Toronto for an interview on the radio program "This Country in the Morning." Michael Enright was the host of the program, and he was delighted to talk to a man whose music had touched his life.
Click 'listen' above to hear Michael's conversation with Charles Aznavour.