Sunday, January 4, 2009

Yvonne Printemps - French Singer

Yvonne Printemps (ErmontJuly 251894 – January 191977 in Paris) was a French singer and actress.

Born Ermont Yvonne Willigniolle Dupre, she made her debut at the age of 12 in a revue at La Cigale in Paris. She was dancing at the Folies Bergère at age 13. Nicknamed Printemps (springtime) by her fellow chorus members because of her sunny disposition, she started in operetta, appearing in such works as Les Contes de Perrault (1913) and Le Poilu (1916). Her voice and stage presence made her a great star at a young age, appearing as a teenager with the greatest stars of the day, Maurice Chevalier and Mistinguett.

In 1919, she married actor-playwright Sacha Guitry. Together they performed in a number of his plays, bringing the extremely popular 1925 production of Mozart to cities in North America, including New York City, Montreal, Quebec, and Boston, Massachusetts.

In 1934 she received international acclaim for her performance in the Noel Coward play, Conversation Piece. She performed in Paris and at London's West End before going to the United States to star on Broadway. She appeared in nine motion pictures, including the starring role in both the stage and screen versions of Trois Valses.

While married to Sacha Guitry, she fell in love with French film star Pierre Fresnay. She divorced Guitry for Fresnay, whom she did not marry, but with whom she remained for life. Loving the spotlight, she would be seen draped with jewels and wearing enormous hats. Personifying the grand diva, she made a great spectacle wherever she went with her pet dogs on a leash.

She continued to perform on stage until she was well into her sixties and remained active with Pierre Fresnay, co-directing the Théâtre de la Michodière in Paris with him until his death in 1975.

Yvonne Printemps died in the Paris suburb of Neuilly in 1977. She is interred with Fresnay in the Neuilly-sur-Seine community cemetery.

In 1994, the government of France placed her image on a postage stamp.


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