|Born||27 August 1912|
Léo Marjane, born Thérèse Gérard (born 27 August 1912), is a French singer who reached the peak of her popularity in the late 1930s and early 1940s before her career went into sharp decline after the end of World War II. She was born in Boulogne-sur-Mer, Pas-de-Calais.
Early career and success
Marjane began her career in the early 1930s singing in cabarets in Paris. She was noticed for her warm contralto voice and the clarity of her diction, and in 1936 was signed to a contract with the Pathé-Marconi label. Her early recordings – a mixture of original songs and standards of the era such as "Begin the Beguine" and "Night and Day" – were well received and popular. The peak of Marjane's career came in the early 1940s, when she was regarded as one of France's biggest female singing stars. In 1941 she recorded her signature song, the Charles Trenet-penned "Seule ce soir" ("Alone Tonight"), which captured the feelings of the many who were experiencing wartime separation and became one of the best-loved songs of its time.
Post-Liberation and career decline
Marjane's success came to an abrupt halt following the Liberation of France in August 1944. She was accused of having appeared many times at venues frequented by German officers, and her numerous performances on German- and collaborator-controlled Radio Paris were also held against her. Marjane maintained that she had been no more than naïve; nevertheless, in the immediate aftermath of the end of World War II, the allegations and negative publicity in France led her to spend a period of time in England and Belgium, where she was largely unknown.
On her return to France Marjane resumed her recording career; popular opinion had turned against her, however, and she found little further success. Also Marjane's style of music fell increasingly out of fashion as the 1950s progressed, although she continued to record critically praised but poor-selling material until the middle of the decade. During this period she toured extensively in the United States, Canada and South America, and also had small roles in two films: Les deux gamines (1951) and Jean Renoir's Elena et les hommes (1956).
Shortly after her 1957 marriage to Baron Charles de la Doucette (1912–2007), she decided to abandon show business completely. The couple moved to the village of Barbizon, outside Paris, where they devoted themselves to horse breeding.
Marjane's legacy has been kept alive by devotees of French song. A career retrospective CD, Seule ce soir, was issued in France in 2004, while the title track, her best-remembered recording, has appeared on several internationally released compilations of French music from the World War II era.
Subsequent to her retirement from public life, Marjane has consistently shunned most requests for television, radio, or published media interviews. She did, however, give an interview to radio channel France Musique shortly before her 90th birthday in 2002. She turned 100 in August 2012.
- Léo Marjane biography at Du temps des cerises aux feuilles mortes (French)
- Hazéra, Hélène (2012-09-02). "Léo Marjane a 100 ans". Chanson Boum!. franceculture.fr. Retrieved 2012-09-14. (French)
- Detailed career overview (French)