Mireille Hartuch

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Mireille Hartuch (30 September 1906 – 29 December 1996) was a French singer, composer, and actress. She was generally known by the stage name "Mireille".

She was born in Paris to Jewish parents. Her mother came from a family of musicians and as a child Mireille was taught to play the piano and encouraged to pursue a career in music. As a teenager she worked in live theatre and, influenced by the music of the great dance halls of Paris, she began composing music for the theatre. For her performances, she was billed simply as Mireille, the single name a common practice at the time. In 1928 she began a collaboration with lyricist Jean Nohain (1900–1981) that led to considerable success for many years.

Fluent in the English language, she spent two years in the United States, first in New York City where she performed in a Broadway play before going on to Hollywood. In 1931, she appeared in a film with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and another with Buster Keaton. Back in France, her songwriting career took off when her songs were recorded by the great French singers of the time, Maurice Chevalier, Charles Trenet and a young Jean Sablon.

In 1933, she appeared in the French film Chourinette but did not play on the screen again until 1951's Au fil des ondes. In 1937, she married the writer Emmanuel Berl, giving him the nickname Théodore. Three years later during the Nazi occupation, because they were Jews they were forced to go into hiding in Argentat in the remote Corrèze département in the Limousin region. There, Mireille Hartuch was very active in the French Resistance and was head of the local liberation committee.

After the War, through her songwriting, she became close friends of Jean Cocteau, Albert Camus, and André Malraux. In the 1950s, her friend, Sacha Guitry gave her the idea of opening the "Petit Conservatoire de la chanson" (Little Conservatory of Song [1]) to use her talents to train young singers. Opened in 1955, it proved to be a highly beneficial institution that nurtured the voices of a number of young singers who went on to success.

In her long and respected career, Mireille Hartuch composed more than six hundred songs and was twice decorated by the government for her contributions to French culture.

Mireille Hartuch died in Paris in 1996 at the age of 90 and was interred there in the Cimetière du Montparnasse.

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Adapted from the article Mireille Hartuch, from Wikinfo, licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.