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Born : 5 décembre 1889 - Paris, FRA

RIP : janvier 1978 - La Celle-Saint-Cloud, FRA

Marie-Louise Damien was 18 years old when she met the singer/songwriter Robert Hollard who gave her lessons that led to her professional debut. At the time, Hollard was married to the singer Fréhel but her alcohol problems meant the marriage was a difficult one and soon ended. After leaving his wife, Hollard began an affair with his protégé.

After being seen by Félix Mayol, one of the leading male singing stars at the time, he hired her to perform at his concerts. Despite this, her career evolved slowly, taking second billing for a number of years but with help in her stage presentation from the American dancer Loie Fuller she eventually became a singing star.

Part of the music hall era of Montmartre and Montparnasse, she was a purveyor of the realistic style of sad ballads that led to her being called "the tragic actress of song".

In 1927, she appeared in the 1927 film, Napoléon directed by Abel Gance with early silent film stars Antonin Artaud, Philippe Hériat, Annabella, and Suzanne Bianchetti. She had enduring appeal that stretched to audiences as far away as Japan where she toured in 1953. A few years later she did a farewell tour, ending her more than forty year career in front of a full house at the Paris Olympia.

Damia died at La Celle-Saint-Cloud, a western suburb of Paris, and was interred in the Cimetière de Pantin.


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