Edith Piaf, who, like me, was born in a town called Belleville (Hers: Paris; mine: Illinois, U.S.A.), was an internationally known French singer and songwriter, who died in 1963.
She was abandoned at birth by her mother, also something of a cabaret singer, and Edith was finally placed in the care of her paternal grandmother, who ran a brothel! Edith learned many things, yet, from age 3 to 7, she was allegedly blind; her grandmother’s prostitutes pooled money to take her on a pilgrimage, honoring St. Theresa of Lisieux, where she was, supposedly, miraculously healed of her affliction.
She was also part of the French resistance during World War II, although, at some point, charged with conspiring with the Germans: The charges were later dropped. She married several times, was friends with Marlene Dietrich, another “torch singer,” who attended one of Edith’s weddings as matron of honor, and, on her death bed, Edith was quoted as saying: “Every damn thing in life you do, you have to pay for!!”
Although a Catholic, she was denied a funeral mass by the Archbishop of Paris; however, her funeral procession and burial in Paris were attended by, literally, tens of thousands of fans from around the world, which, according to some reports, stopped all Parisian traffic, something that had not happened since the end of the second World War.