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Edith Piaf Dead at 47

Oct. 11, 1963 - Edith Piaf (pictured in 1951), the beloved idol of the French music halls who made a world hit of “La Vie en Rose,” died today. A protracted series of illnesses resulting from previous struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction had sapped the 47-year-old singer’s strength. She died after suffering an internal hemorrhage resulting from liver cancer. Piaf’s husband, the singer Théo Sarapo, was at her side. The two were married last year. Her last words were: “Every damn thing you do in this life, you have to pay for.” During a tour of America in 1947, Piaf met boxer Marcel Cerdan and fell in love. They began an affair, which made international headlines since Cerdan was the former middleweight world champion and famous in France in his own right. In October 1949, Cerdan flew from Paris to New York City to meet her. However, his plane crashed while attempting to land at a stopover in Portugal. The crash killed everyone on board, including Cerdan and noted violinist Ginette Neveu. The hit song “Hymne à l’amour,” written in dedication to Cerdan, was recorded by Piaf in May 1950. Piaf's drug dependencies have been attributed[ to injuries sustained in a car accident that occurred in 1951. Both Piaf and singer Charles Aznavour (her then-assistant) were passengers in the vehicle, with Piaf suffering a broken arm and two broken ribs. Her doctor prescribed morphine as a treatment, which became a dependency alongside her alcohol problems. As soon as word of Piaf’s death circulated in Paris today, many friends, most of whom are well known in the French entertainment world, gathered at her home. They filed past the bed on which she lay with two flowers, a rose and an orchid, in each hand. All of them, including such personalities as Yves Montand and Charles Aznavour, appeared deeply moved as they left her residence. The French National Broadcasting station marked Piaf’s death with a special program.

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