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Dalida 1974.jpg
Press photo of Dalida in 1974 during variety show on Italian TV
Born Iolanda Cristina Gigliotti
(1933-01-17)17 January 1933
Cairo, Egypt
Died 3 May 1987(1987-05-03) (aged 54)
Paris, France
Cause of death Suicide by overdose with sleeping pills
Other names
Yolanda Gigliotti
Mademoiselle Bambino
Mademoiselle succès
Mademoiselle jukebox
La vedette
Reine du disco
  • Singer
  • actress
  • model
  • dancer
  • businesswoman
  • comedian
  • record producer
  • television host
  • songwriter
Years active 1956–1987 (singer)
1954–1968, 1986 (actress)
Title Miss Egypt 1954
  • Lucien Morisse
    (m. 1961; div. 1962)
Awards Full list
Modeling information
Height 168 cm (5 ft 6 in)
Hair color Black
Eye color Brown
Agency Donna (1951–1954)
Musical career
Instruments Vocals, tambourine
Dalida autogram signature.png

Iolanda Cristina Gigliotti[1] (Italian: [joˈlanda kriˈstiːna dʒiʎˈʎɔtti]; 17 January 1933 – 3 May 1987), better known as Dalida (Egyptian Arabic: داليدا‎), was an Egyptian-born French[2][note 1] singer and actress who spent most of her career in France. She won the Miss Egypt beauty contest in 1954.[3]

Her career began in 1956 and ended with her last album in 1986, half a year before she committed suicide. According to Universal Music, she has sold 140 million albums and singles worldwide.[4]

Early life and career

Childhood in Cairo

Dalida in 1937.
Dalida in 1937.

Gigliotti was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt after her family migrated from Serrastretta, Calabria, Italy during the 1920s and settled in the Shubra quartier. Iolanda's father, Pietro Gigliotti (1904–1945), was primo violino (first violinist) at the Cairo Opera House, while Iolanda's mother Giuseppina (née Rossi, 1906–1971) was a seamstress.[5] She had two brothers, Orlando (1928–1992) and Bruno (who later changed his name to Orlando like his brother and became her manager in 1966).[6] At the age of 10 months Iolanda caught an eye infection, and underwent two eye operations. She attended the Scuola Tecnica Commerciale Maria Ausiliatrice, an Italian Catholic school. She developed an interest in acting due to her uncle's job as a projectionist for a local cinema, but started working as a typist in a pharmaceutical company in 1951.

1951–1956: Early work

Modelling, acting and relocation to France

In 1951 she entered the Miss Ondine beauty pageant, won the second prize and soon left her job to start modelling for Donna, a Cairo-based fashion house. In 1954 she won the Miss Egypt pageant,[7] which led Niazi Mostafa to hire her for A Glass and a Cigarette[8], and later Marco de Gastyne cast her in The Mask of Tutankhamun. She adopted the stage name Dalila because, as she explained in 1968, "it was a very frequent name in Egypt and I liked it a lot."[9] She was offered a contract by an Egyptian film producer, but turned it down because Gastyne advised her to try her luck in Paris. Dalila decided to not represent Egypt on Miss World 1955; Egypt did not compete that year because of Suez Crisis.[10][11]

On December 25, 1954 Dalila left Egypt for Paris. Her first residence was a room in an apartment of Gastyne's friend and impresario Vidal, at 49 rue de Ponthieu. Although she met with a number of directors, she initially found it difficult to find work. She relocated to an apartment in 34 Rue Jean Mermoz where she met a young soldier named Alain Delon,[12] with whom had a brief relationship. [13]

Singing breakthrough and decisive dice game

Dalila's difficulty in finding acting work led her to try singing. Vidal introduced her to Roland Berger, a professor, who gave her daily singing lessons. Berger arranged for her to perform in the famous cabaret Le Drap d'Or on Champs-Élysées.[14] There she was spotted by Jacques Paoli, the director of the cabaret La Villa d'Este, who engaged her for a series of performances.[15] After one performance, author and screenwriter Alfred Marchard advised Dalila to change her name to Dalida saying to her: "Your pseudonym resembles too much the movie Samson and Dalila and it won't help to boost your popularity. Why don't you replace the second "l" with a "d", like God the father?"[note 2] She immediately accepted the change.[16] Following another recital, Bruno Coquatrix invited her to participate in his singing contest Les Numéros 1 de demain, scheduled on 9 April 1956 at his Olympia concert hall.[14] In future years, Coquatrix said that "... her voice is full of colour and volume, and has all that men love: gentleness, sensuality and eroticism."[17]

Prior to the Les Numéros 1 de demain competition, Eddie Barclay, owner of Barclay Records, and Lucien Morisse, artistic director of newly established radio station Europe n°1, met and discussed what to do that evening. Barclay wanted to visit the cinema, whereas Morisse wanted to attend the competition at the Olympia. They settled their disagreement by playing 421, a dice game, which Morisse won. Joined with Bruno Coquatrix, the owner of the Olympia, they spotted Dalida's performance and all three were greatly impressed and arranged a meeting with her. The three men went on to play a large part in launching her career.[18]

1956–1959: Commercial breakout and fame

First contract and debut record

After the performance in and Les Numéros 1 de demain, Dalida met with Morisse and performed Barco Negro, a recent hit by Amália Rodrigues. He arranged an audition for her with Eddie Barclay, and on the May 2, 1956 she signed a renewable one-year recording contract with him.[19] Bruno Coquatrix planned to promote her through a series of concerts, including two concerts at the Olympia, two weeks in Bombino, and a tour of the provinces. Her first record "Madonna" was recorded in June as an EP, and was first played on August 28, 1956 on Radio Europe n°1.[19] The record achieved sufficient success and was followed by "Le Torrent" a month later which received an equally encouraging welcome.[20]

Overnight success with Bambino

Dalida continued performing live throughout the latter part of 1956, while her promoters worked on developing a song that would make her a star. Morisse asked lyricist Jacques Larue to write a French language version of Marino Marini's Italian hit Guaglione. [7] Entititled Bambino, it was released as the title song of Dalida's third EP on October 28, 1956, and was an immediate success, spending 31 weeks at the top of French charts in 1957, for which it still holds the record. The song gained Dalida her first gold disc, the first time such an award had been won by a woman, on September 19, 1957 for sales of over 300,000. [21]

On February 27, 1957, Dalida sang at the Olympia as the opening act for Charles Aznavour. The release of Bambino was followed up with the release of four more EPs that were all collected on her first two albums released in mid 1957; "Son nom est Dalida" and "Miguel".[22]. Dalida performed in a successful three-week series of concerts at Bobino, and in the summer a fan club was established, the first such club to be devoted to a female artist.[citation needed] In September, she opened for Gilbert Bécaud in the newly renovated Olympia[23], and was widely applauded. In October she recorded Histoire d'un amour, which became one of her top hits of all time, and earned her a second gold disc in early 1958.[24]

Gondolier, first Tour de France and return to acting

Over Christmas in 1957, Dalida released "Gondolier". The song was another hit, going straight to in the charts, and it was covered by several foreign artists.[25] Alongside Gondolier, the EP included the song "Le jour où la pluie viendra", which proved popular. This release was followed by her receipt of the RMC award, which she went on to win for six consecutive years.

In June, she embarked upon a national tour entitled "Tour de France" (named for the Tour de France). During the summer, she performed in Algiers, supporting the morale of French soldiers who fought in Algerian War. Around this time, she had five songs simultaneously in the Top 10, a record that she still holds.[note 3]

In September Dalida played supporting roles in two B movies; in "Rapt au deuxième bureau"[26] and "Brigade des mœurs"[27] On October 9, she again performed at Bobino, this time for three weeks as the headline performer. By the end of the year, she had received three more golden discs, and again compiled previously released EPs on two new albums; "Gondolier" and "Les Gitans".[28]

On December 26, 1958 Dalida was in New York with Morisse where they met Norman Granz, the American impresario of Ella Fitzgerald, who invited her to Hollywood and offered a fifteen years contract to launch her career in the USA. She quickly rejected the offer, saying that she wanted to focus on her musical career in France where she was already well-know with a secure fan base. [29]

International recognition

Dalida toured extensively in 1959, playing sold-out dates in France, Egypt, Italy, and Germany. As her fame spread outside France, she started to record songs in other languages to cater for these new audiences. In February, during a TV appearance, she performed a version of "Hava Naguila". On March 2, journalists of popular magazine Music Hall awarded her, alongside Yves Montand, with the Bravos du music hall, the forerunner of Victoires de la Musique, for outstanding success in the past twelve months.

In May she recorded in German "Am tag als der regen kam", which reached number 1 in Germany. It earned her another gold disc three months later.[30] During the summer, she covered her own recording of "C'est ça l'amore" in Flemish as "Ik zing amore", the only time in her career she sang in Flemish.

In France she collected five Top 10 hits in 1959, most notably "Ciao, ciao Bambina" and "Guitare et tambourin"; both earning gold discs. In Italy, Oscar di popolarità and Lupo d'oro won first place in sales of 45rpms. Those were her first two foreign awards, and furthered her international recognition. Dalida also performed in successful concerts in Berlin, Athens[31], and Cairo, where she performed in the Rivoli cinema that she frequented as a child.

On September 23, 1959, Dalida sang in a successful three-week run at Théâtre de l'Étoile, where a jukebox was installed in recognition of her being voted Mademoiselle Jukebox, the 'most listened to artist on jukeboxes'[32]. During the closing night of the Berlin Film Festival on September 28, she was presented with a Golden Lion for "Am Tag als der Regen Kam". By the end of the year, she released her fifth and sixth albums "Le disque d'or de Dalida" and "Love in Portofino", and had already sold three and a half million records.

1960–1966: International breakthrough

Dalida in 1960.
Dalida in 1960.

Dalida entered the 1960s with exotic-high vocal style songs with low speed. The beginning of 1960 was when she released Les enfants du Pirée ("Never on Sunday"). However, a new wave of music appeared, and in France it was known as yé-yé by new and unknown young singers which were considered to be her rivals. She became irritated seeing the charts were occupied by songs that disappeared from the charts quickly. She knew that her genre of music was likely to lose the interest of her current and future fans, so she decided to adapt in her own way. By combining styles such as twist, exotica, rock and roll, she had a new musical style in less than two months, and kept it with only minor changes until 1967.[33][unreliable source]

Recording the song Itsi bitsi petit bikini in November 1960 secured her popularity. The song peaked at #1.[34] During the 1960s, Dalida would perform a month of shows at Olympia three times (1961, 1964, 1967), all of them sellouts. Three weeks of concerts in 1961, Olympia was broadcast live by radio. Shortly afterward, Dalida embarked upon a tour to Hong Kong and Vietnam. Other international dates became more frequent and she became a popular singer in Italy. The year 1962 was marked with the release of Le jour le plus long.[35]

In 1963, she released the song Eux. In the same year, she had another triumph in Olympia. Again she toured, in 1964 she was in East Europe (Bulgaria, Romania). In 1965, she released La danse de Zorba, that peaked #3 in France,[36] it also won Brazilian award Chico Viola. Mikis Theodorakis personally adapted the song for her in French[37] and Italian.[38]

Some of her other 1960s hits were Garde moi la dernière danse (1961), Papa achète moi un Juke box (1962), Le petit Gonzales (1962), Bonsoir mon amour (1964), (1966) and Bang bang (1966). Her songs from this period are today widely known as "typical 60s".

In late 1966, Barclay introduced her to Luigi Tenco, young and new Italian singer-songwriter. The purpose was their singing together on the upcoming Sanremo music festival '67. It was a tradition that already known and popular singers sing together in duet with minor singers. Dalida was the big singer and Tenco was at his debut. They were supposed to sing his song Ciao amore, ciao.[39]

Dalida in 1967.
Dalida in 1967.

1967–1973: Icon

In the first few weeks of 1967, Dalida released the French version of Ciao amore, ciao as a single. She sang the song at the Sanremo Music Festival in January 1967, but she didn't pass. Again, in November, she organized four weeks of shows at Olympia, all sold out. Following the first night of the concert she released, for the first time, an album named after Olympia called Olympia67. She continued performing at Olympia until her last show in 1981, holding weeks of concerts every 3–4 years. The album contained new songs along with Ciao amore, ciao.

Back in France in late 1967, she recorded the nostalgic song Le temps des fleurs influenced by Russian traditional music. Following its release in early 1968, the song peaked #1.[40][41]

The same year she won Oscar de Canzonissima, awarded by the biggest TV show in Italy. In December, she was awarded the Médaille de la Présidence de la République by Charles de Gaulle, then French president. She is the only person from the show business to ever have received this medal.[42]

In this period, her repertoire changed completely. In 1968, after gaining a keen interest in academia (Freud, David Cooper, Jean Hamburger…), she chose to perform songs with more profound lyrics. She tried to probe into her inner self and declared that she would sing only those songs which have a meaning for her. Every year's new releases were melancholic or fully attached to her personal life. That was completely influenced by Tenco's death. Also, from 1969 to 1972 she would frequently go to Asia on spiritual recoveries with gurus. The first few years of 1970s became a transitional period for the singer, highlighted by successful touring through Europe, Asia and Japan.

She recorded the very popular hit Darla dirla dada in 1970.[43] Then she started to add more joyful songs to her repertoire.

Bruno Coquatrix was dubious about Dalida's career evolution, and was hesitant to book her for a series of performances in 1971. Dalida hired the hall herself, and all 30 days of the show were met with an impressive public response. She again released the album named by Olympia, but this time Olympia71 was released as a live album (first live LP in her career). All of her three Olympia albums from the '70s will be live.

In 1972, she covered the theme from Godfather in French as Parle plus bas, selling over 300,000 copies.[44] That same year she met Richard Chanfray, a socialite known as Count of St. Germain.

In 1973, she recorded Paroles Paroles in duet with Alain Delon, which became #9 in France,[40] #17 in Turkey,[45] #3 in Mexico, #3 in Portugal, #10 in the county of Wallonia[46] and #28 in Japan.[47] Some of her other hits from this period were Petruska (1969) in Germany and Mamy Blue (1971) in Italy.[48]

1974–1975: Zenith

Dalida with Saint-Germain in 1975.
Dalida with Saint-Germain in 1975.

By the end of 1973 Dalida released the promotional single A side Il venait d'avoir 18 ans with B side Non ce n’est pas pour moi. In that same time, she released the album Julien that gathers most of her 1973 songs. The song Il venait d'avoir 18 ans quickly started gaining success and it was again released in the beginning of 1974 but as B-side to single A-side Gigi l'amoroso. Il venait d'avoir 18 ans peaked #3 in Quebec,[49] #16 in Belgium,[50] #13 in Germany,[45]'[51] and #37[52] in Italy while Gigi l'amoroso beat the record held by Frank Sinatra's Strangers in the night from 1966 for the most sold single in Benelux and charted #4 in France, #1 in Switzerland,[53] #2 in Netherlands,[54] #1 in county of Flanders, #3 in Quebec, #2 in Spain[45] and #59 in Italy. The first performance of both songs was during her concerts in Olympia 1974. The whole 4 weeks were sold out and a triumph for the singer, and was followed again with a live album Olympia75.

In February 1975, French music critics awarded the singer with the prestigious Prix de l'Académie du Disque Français. Touring from 1974 to 1975 would follow this period of unprecedented sales.[55] During 1975, she released duet Et de l'amour de l'amour with her partner Richard.[56] This single peaked #16 in France.[45]

Dalida on French tv in 1977.
Dalida on French tv in 1977.

1976–1980: Disco queen

At the end of 1975, Dalida released a new album that gathered some songs from singles released in 1974 and '75 plus some new material. Most of the songs were from the same genre except for the title song J'attendrai which was of the disco genre. J'attendrai immediately gained success and was released as a single in January 1976. It reached number 1 on the French charts and was the first French disco hit in French speaking countries. Achieving that, Dalida holds the title of the inventor of French disco.[57][58][59]

Around the same time, the popularity of the variety show was soaring in France, and Dalida started making television appearances on a weekly basis there and across Europe.

Following her disco success, in mid 1976 she released a new album with completely new songs, most of them disco. The most notable one was Besame mucho (#7 in France and #10 in Turkey).[45]

1977 was a successful year for Dalida both in her private and professional life. She released three albums. One of them was live Olympia77, released following her again 4-week triumph at Olympia in 1977. The other two were albums with completely new songs. Salma Ya Salama became the first Raï hit in the world. Due to its success in the original Arabic, the song was translated into French, Italian, and German. Part of the lyrics are based on an old Egyptian folk song about homesickness and celebrating the Egyptian nation.

Dalida continued touring the world, including the USA, for the second time since the 1950s, by playing two nights in New York's Carnegie Hall in November 1978. The New York Times review of the Carnegie Hall concert praised Dalida's performance and noted its intimacy and intensity after she began to converse midway through it, revealing her personality. Most of the audience were French citizens. The concerts were almost sold out, but nevertheless, it was another triumph for her. Due to the concert, she was offered again a contract to perform in the USA, but she refused it for the second time.

In February, during her 1977 Canada tour, an obsessed fan tried to kidnap her by using a hammer, but did not succeed.[60]

Other hit performances of Dalida include "The Lambeth Walk" sung in English and French. The song "Je suis malade", written and originally performed by Serge Lama was made into a success by Dalida during 1977 although she released it in 1973. In 1979, Dalida recorded her biggest disco hit "Monday, Tuesday... Laissez-moi danser" (Monday Tuesday...let me dance). The song was a smash hit peaking #2 on the French charts. By the end of 1979, she released the semi-biographical song "Comme disait la mistinguett" where she, through music, speaks about herself in a fun way. Her debut of 1980 was marked by the release of a big disco hit "Rio do Brasil". Then she released the album "Gigi in Paradisco", named by title song that was a sequel to her previous hit "Gigi l'amoroso".[17]

In 1979, Dalida met Lester Wilson. Agreeing to work together he became her choreographer for the upcoming spectacle in the Palais des Sports, booked for January 1980. In total, Dalida performed for three hours per day for fifteen days, with ten costume changes, twelve dancers, in front of a combined audience of around 90,000 people. Palais des Sports of Paris was the largest playing venue in Paris and also one of the biggest in France so triumph there was the same as the triumph in already mythical Olympia.[61]

Following the spectacle, Dalida released the double live album Le spectacle du Palais des Sports 1980 and organized a new European tour and minor World tour. She toured in the whole Western and Eastern Europe except Yugoslavia and SSSR. Also, she held concerts in Brasil, USA and Canada. When she came back, she organized a tour across the whole of France delivering more 20 sold out concerts monthly across French countryside and cities. In 1980, problems in her private life appeared again. Her inside tournaments were reflected in the profound song "A ma maniere".[62]

1981–1984: Diva

Very quickly Dalida left disco and started singing slower moody deep minded songs with typical 80s instruments. It was all caused again by escalating problems in her private life (break up with St. Germain in 1981). That same year she started to sing more often her 1973 song "Je suis malade" ("I am sick"). Her performances of that song during that year and later on, are today one of her most remembered performances. The song has also become her signature track. Dalida had popularized it globally, singing it because it reflects her personal torments and unhappiness, and has shown emotions that are, thus to numerous covers.

From March to April 1981, she held a month of sold-out concerts at the Olympia in Paris, emulating her successful 1980 tour. It became her last Olympia concert because the following year Olympia went bankrupt until 1989. On the night of her inaugural performance, she became the first singer to be awarded with a diamond disc, in recognition of her record sales which, at that point in her career, have reached 65 million.[63] Olympia was followed up by the release of her last named Olympia album "Olympia81", but this time not live. That same year she refused to be a model for Marianne of France.[64]

Instead of disco, Dalida started to record dance songs that quickly replaced disco in France and had occupied the clubs. In the end of 1981, Dalida starred in New Year TV spectacle called "Special Dalida". She was half host and sang her songs.

At the beginning of 1982, she had many TV appearances singing new songs still unreleased. All that resulted with the release of a new dance album "Special Dalida". She was now ruling dance scene. The most remembered songs of the album are the dance songs "Jouez bouzouki", "Danza" and moody "Nostalgie". Dalida launched a new world tour in 1982 and spent most of 1982 to 1984 delivering sold-out concerts from Rio de Janeiro, across Europe, to Asia. Her TV appearances were highly often in the 80s, almost every second week.

In the summer of 1982, during the FIFA world cup, just as many other singers, Dalida released a song for the French representation "La chanson du Mundial" (#17 in France).[45]

In the first part of 1983, she released several songs and the most notable of them was "Mourir sur scène". The dance-pop song has very profound lyrics and has stayed a big hit still today, one of the signature tracks by Dalida. Most of her songs of 1983 were gathered on her album released in mid '83 "Les p'tits mots", which featured other singles as "Lucas" and "Bravo".

By the beginning of 1984, her private problems escalated again, so she couldn't dedicate as much time to her career as she would have wanted. Although, she recorded a new repertoire completely of dance songs, like "Soleil" and "Kalimba de Luna". In mid '84, she recorded the album "Dali", gathering all songs released that same year. To promote the album, a television special was later released on VHS named "Dalida Idéale", it was filmed in 1984, and directed by the then highly rated director Jean-Christophe Averty. This highly campy television special includes Dalida singing in 7 languages and dancing her way through a huge number of her earlier hits, all with the best video effects available at the time. Dalida also had a prestigious wardrobe during this show, changing more than 40 outfits from the best French and international fashion designers, showing off her amazing mannequin body for a woman of her age and keeping her "Glamour" and "DIVA" trademark gained during the disco era in the late seventies.

1985–1987: Final years

Dalida's eye problems returned again. She underwent two major eye operations in 1985, and she put her career on hiatus as the stage lights started to become difficult for her to endure.[31] She released Reviens-moi, a cover of George Michael's Last Christmas. During early 1985, she occasionally had some live performances, as well as many TV appearances. When her eyes recovered in mid 1985, she accepted the role of a young grandmother in the Youssef Chahine film Le Sixième Jour. As she always wanted to become an actress, she temporarily disregarded her singing career and fully devoted herself to the movie. She returned to France to promote the movie in late 1985.

In 1986, she released Le Visage de l'amour with completely new recordings, and some singles from the album, which would become her last album. Le temps d'aimer and Le Vénitien de Levallois were minor hit songs that failed to achieve bigger success upon their release. She did promote the album, but not as well as she used to do previously, due to issues in her private life which has never been worse since 1967. Dalida, therefore, spent more and more time in her house alone or going out with friends in an attempt to amuse herself, again neglecting her career.

Instead of promoting new songs, she would once again organize a lot of concerts on a monthly basis, singing her previously-known hits. Dalida was then known for the amazing "show" performances, wearing her wardrobe from 1980–1982. She sang glamourous disco-dance songs from same period such as Je suis toutes les femmes, Gigi in paradisco, Il faut danser reggae, Monday, Tuesday..., Comme disait la Mistinguett.

By the beginning of 1987, Dalida was entering into severe depression while trying to overcome it. Although no new songs had been recorded, she toured internationally from Los Angeles to the Middle East. Being part of the music spotlight in 1978, many of her songs appeared daily on TV, as well as many notable TV appearances in talk shows from 1986–1987. Her last live TV appearance was hosting the Nuit des César on 7 March 1987. Her last live performance took place in Antalya, Turkey, from 27 to 29 April 1987, just before her suicide.[65] Her performance was not recorded by the national television of Turkey which was the only TV channel in the country.

Death and funeral

Dalida's grave and monument.
Dalida's grave and monument.
Dalida's house at rue d'Orchampt, Montmartre, Paris
Dalida's house at rue d'Orchampt, Montmartre, Paris

On the night of 2 May to 3, 1987, Dalida committed suicide by overdosing on barbiturates.[66][67] She left behind a note which read, "La vie m'est insupportable... Pardonnez-moi." ("Life is unbearable for me... Forgive me.")

Dalida is buried at the Montmartre Cemetery, 18th Division, Chemin des Gardes.

Personal life

While Dalida was professionally very successful, her private life was marred by a series of failed relationships and personal problems.

In January 1967, she took part in the Sanremo Festival with her new lover, Italian singer, songwriter, and actor Luigi Tenco. The song he presented was "Ciao amore ciao" ("Bye Love, Bye"), which he sang together with Dalida. But, stressed, Tenco failed despite Dalida's performance. Tenco committed suicide on 27 January 1967, after learning that his song had been eliminated from the final competition. Tenco was found by Dalida in his hotel room with a bullet wound in his left temple and a note announcing that his gesture was against the jury and public's choices during the competition.[68] Prior to Tenco's suicide, Dalida and he had become engaged.[69] One month later, Dalida attempted to commit a suicide by drug overdose at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Paris. She spent five days in a coma and several months convalescing.[70] Dalida returned to the stage the following October.[71]

In December 1967, she became pregnant by a 22-year-old Italian student, Lucio. She had an abortion that left her infertile.[72]

In September 1970, her former husband (1956–1961) Lucien Morisse, with whom she was on good terms, committed suicide, shooting himself in the head.[73]

In April 1975, her close friend, singer Mike Brant leapt to his death from an apartment in Paris. He was 28.[74] Dalida had contributed to his success in France when he opened concerts for her in 1971 at l'Olympia.[75]

In July 1983, her lover from 1972 to 1981, Richard Chanfray, committed suicide by inhaling the exhaust gas of his Renault 25 car.[76]

Public image, influence and legacy

Since her death, Dalida has become a cult figure to a new generation of fans. In 1988, the Encyclopædia Universalis commissioned a poll, published in the French newspaper Le Monde, that aimed to reveal the personalities who had the greatest impact on French society. Dalida polled second, behind Général de Gaulle.[77]

She is also a gay icon in France.[78]

Dalida's bust at Dalida's Square
Dalida's bust at Dalida's Square

In 2003, for the award "Greatest Singer of the Century" in France (based on three criteria: numbers of album and single sales, number of radio airplays and chart positions), Dalida was placed third after Madonna and Céline Dion, which means that she remained the number one favorite artist in France.

Her output has also been the subject of various remix albums. Since her death, many of Dalida's hits have been remixed to modern techno and dance beats.[79] In 2009 Lara Fabian said that Dalida had influenced the most on her.[80]


  • 1965 – I.F.O.P. Poll: 'Favourite French singer'
  • 1976 – Dalida was voted 'Woman of the Year' in Canada, ahead of Jackie Kennedy)
  • 1982 – Paris Match magazine survey revealed that Dalida was the only representative from show business to appear in a list of most influential French women.
  • 1985 – Dalida was voted 'Favourite French singer' (Télé 7 Jours magazine).
  • 1986 – VSD magazine published a survey in which Dalida was voted 'Favourite French singer'.
  • 1988 – SOFRES/Encyclopædia Universalis: In a survey asking the French public which events had the greatest impact on the French public between 1968 and 1988, 16% of the French public voted the 'Death of Général de Gaulle' and 10% voted the 'Death of Dalida'.
  • 1989 – Encyclopædia Universalis: By examining the proof of the criteria to find out which person had the biggest impact on French society, it was concluded that Dalida is the second, just after president de Gaulle.
  • 2001 – IFOP Survey: Dalida was voted the 'Most important female singer who had the greatest impact on French society in the 20th century', along with Édith Piaf.
  • 2005 – Dalida was voted the 'Favourite singer in 2004' amongst Italians, and held seventh place amongst the most collected musical artists in Italy.
  • 2005 – Dalida was voted 'Top 58th French person of all time' in a survey sponsored by the France 2 television channel. The only women from the show business which appeared in this list were Catherine Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot, Simone Signoret, Édith Piaf and Dalida.

Awards and achievements

Dalida is the most consecrated artist in the history of France. During her life and posthumously, she collected various international awards that no European artist has ever obtained.[81] Dalida is the only person in Europe who has ever achieved such fame without any releases in the American and UK markets.[82][83] She sold 120 million records worldwide during her lifetime and a further 20 million records since her death.[4] Her singles and albums have received more than 90 certifications.[84]

Her early success with Bambino made Barclay adopt the practice of other producers in the world who had already awarded their singers with golden certifications, so, on 19 September 1957, Bambino became the first record in the history of France to be certified gold. Barclay had not been the official certification association, but has faithfully served its 300,000-copy gold certification award over the years.

In 1964, from the hands of Barclay, Dalida received the certification of a Platinum Disk for Accumulated Sales of over 10 million discs sold in the previous seven years of her career. It was the first time in world history that the term "platinum disk" was used and awarded to a singer. It is also the first time that a disk certification for lifetime achievement/accumulated sales was awarded.[85] In 1976 RIAA introduced a new platinum award. The inspiration for the name came after this Dalida's achievement 12 years earlier.[86]

In 1981, Dalida celebrated 25 years of her career. On the first night of her Olympia concerts on 17 January 1981, Orlando awarded Dalida with a Diamond Disk for Lifetime Achievement and 45 million units sold. The event was a live transmission. It is also the first time in world history that the term "diamond disk" was used and awarded to a singer. In 1999, RIAA introduced a new diamond award, inspired by Dalida's achievement.[86]

Other appearances


Print advertising

  • 1960 for Permaflex, matress.
  • 1966 for Margnat, vine.[87]
  • 1968 for hand watches (it is notable for mass popularizing small type of hand watches between young population)[87].
  • 1970 for Armand Thiery and Sigrand, wardrobe.
  • 1976 for Saint-Raphaël, apéritif.
  • 1986 for Wizard Sec, air freshener (she wore her famous Loris Azzaro dress)[87].


Year Company Promoting Theme Soundtrack Country
1960 Permaflex Matress Dalida laying on bed and talking about Permaflex mattress Mes frères Italy
1986 Wizard Sec Air freshener Dalida dancing through house and spraying around Wizard Sec on rhythm of music Adaptation of Gigi l'amoroso France

Music in motion pictures and TV

Dalida’s songs have appeared in 36 action films, of which there are two biographical films: Dalida (2005) and Dalida (2017). In addition, a documentary with her songs was recorded during her life. After her death, dozens of documentaries with her songs were recorded.

Theatrical and movie adaptations of Dalida's life

Several theatrical productions have been made about Dalida's life. At least a dozen theatrical adaptations of Dalida's life in addition to the ones listed below have been performed at schools or in independent productions.[citation needed]

  • In 1999, the play Solitudini – Luigi Tenco e Dalida, written and directed by Maurizio Valtieri, was performed in Rome.[88]
  • "Dalida: Une Vie", directed by René Simard and under the authorization of Orlando Productions, was performed from October 2003 to June 2006, in Quebec, Canada, and was shown in Beirut, Lebanon in May 2004.[89]
  • In 2005 a two-part television film, Dalida, in which Dalida was portraited by Sabrina Ferilli,[90] was first broadcast on France 2, reaching 13 million viewers. It was France 2's highest viewership since its inception, beating TF1 the same evening during the broadcast of a football match. The film still holds the record.[4]
  • In 2005, the play "Dalida, à quoi bon vivre au mois de mai ?", written by Joseph Agostini and Caroline Sourrisseau, was performed at the Ateliers Théâtre in Montmartre.[91]
  • In 2017, the film Dalida, directed by Lisa Azuelos and assisted by Orlando Productions, featured Sveva Alviti as Dalida.[92] The film achieved moderate success. Its premiere was at Olympia Music Hall, the first time that the hall hosted a film presentation.[93]

Dalida in Art (selection)

  • Raymond Moretti: Dalida (Oil on canvas, 1957).
  •  ?: Dalida (Oil on canvas, 1968).
  • Magguy Crouzet: Dalida (Portrait in dot-sculpture, 1976).
  • Michel Souvais: Dalida, femme est la nuit (Oil on canvas, 1977).
  • Alain Aslan: Dalida (Yolanda Gigliotti), funerary statue (Bronze sculpture, 1987).
  • Alain Aslan: Dalida (Yolanda Gigliotti) (Bronze bust, 1997).
  • Francesco Gallo: Dalida (Yolanda Gigliotti) (Bronze sculpture, 2007).
  • FS62: Dalida (Black and white portrait in acrylic, 2008).
  • HK: Dalida Ideal (Oil on canvas, 2018).


During her life, Dalida was tributed several times, mostly by awards specially created for her or some impersonators singing her songs on events. After her death, various artists covered her songs, some of them to pay her a tribute. Dozens of concerts, galas and TV appearances were held in several European countries to annually commemorate the anniversary of her death. Below are listed some of most notable tributes to Dalida since 1987;

  • In 1987, Dalida was posthumously honoured with a commemorative coin minted by The French Mint, Monnaie de Paris, issued in gold, bronze and silver, bearing her effigy.[94][95]
  • In 1997, as the Dalida Square and statue of her were established in Paris, on the 10th anniversary of her death, she became one of only three women in France to have a statue, along with Joan of Arc and Sarah Bernhardt.
  • In 1998, a tribute ceremony was held on 27 October in Cairo and the "Dalida Prize" was established and awarded in her honour.[96]
  • In 2001, the French government honoured her with a second stamp bearing her likeness which was released by La Poste, the French postal service, as part of the Artistes de chanson (Artists of the song) series. In 2003, Dalida arrives in the leading point with 10 157 601 copies sold.[97]
  • In 2002, the first TV spectacle for marking the 15th anniversary of her death Dalida, 15 ans déjà (Dalida, 15 years already).[98]
  • In 2005, the first biopic of Dalida; two part telefilm Dalida.[99] Its first broadcast on France 2 will reach 13 million viewers,[100] scoring its best audience number since its inception, beating TF1 the same evening during the broadcast of a football match, still holding the record.[4]
  • In 2007, first of two big expo dedicated to Dalida; Dalida Expo was held in Paris City Hall Hôtel de Ville to commemorate 20th anniversary of her death with an exposition of her outfits, personal belongings, makeup, documents and previously unreleased photographs. In four months of its lining the exposition was visited by 300,000 people.[101]
  • In 2012, the TV spectacle Dalida, 25 ans déjà (Dalida, 25 years already) marked the 25th anniversary of her death.[102]
  • In 2016, the second biopic Dalida had its prepremiere in Olympia, first time in history that the hall was used for a movie projection. The event was attended by French elite personalities from public and political life while the beginning was transmitted live by TF1.[103]
  • In 2017, the second expo dedicated to Dalida; Dalida Expo was held in Palais Galliera to commemorate the 30th anniversary of her death.[104] In three months of its lining, the exposition was visited by 100,000 people, becoming a personal record for the gallery because of its limited capacity[105]


  • Dalida, by Michel Delain, Éditions de l'Heure, 1962. (in French)
  • Dalida, La gloire et les larmes, by Pascal Sevran, 1976. (in French)
  • 25 ans de triomphe, by Christian Page, Delmas Éditeur, 1981. (in French)
  • Dalida, by Christian Page, Têtes D'affiche, 1982. (in French)
  • Dalida, mon amour, by Anne Gallimard and Orlando, Édition NRJ, 1984. ISBN 978-2-908070-01-9. (in French)
  • Lorsque l’amour s’en va, by Catherine Benoît Sévin, Michel Lafon, 1987; Carrere, 1989. ISBN 978-2-908070-01-9. (in French)
  • Dalida, mon amour, by Anne Gallimard and Orlando, Édition NRJ, 1989. ISBN 978-2-908070-01-9. (in French)
  • Dalida mon amour, by Orlando, Hachette Littérature, 1991. ISBN 978-2-7382-0362-5. (in French)
  • Dalida, Histoire d’une femme, by Jean-François Josselin and Jeff Barnel, Jean-Claude Lattès, 1994. ISBN 978-2-7096-1450-4. (in French)
  • Les larmes de la gloire, by Bernard Pascuito, Éditions Michel Lafon, 1997. ISBN 978-2-84098-301-9. (in French)
  • Dalida, by C. Daccache, Éditions Vade Retro, 1998. ISBN 2-909828-51-4 and ISBN 978-2-909828-51-0. (in French)
  • Dalida: Mon frère, tu écriras mes mémoires, by Catherine Rihoit, Plon, 1998. (in French)
  • Dalida, by Catherine Rihoit, Omnibus, 1998. ISBN 978-2-259-00083-3. (in French)
  • Star pour toujours, by Julie Thamin, Gep, 2000. (in French)
  • Dalida: Entre violon et amour, by Isaline, Éditions Publibook, 2002. ISBN 978-2-7483-2629-1. (in French)
  • Du Nil à la scène, Jacques Brachet, Éditions Va bene and Éditions de la courtine, 2001, 2002. ISBN 2-913483-36-4. (in French)
  • Dalida: Une oeuvre en soi, by Michel Rheault, Nota Bene, 2002. ISBN 2-89518-111-X. (in French)
  • Luigi Tenco. Vita breve e morte di un genio musicale, by Aldo Fegatelli Colonna, A. Mondadori, 2002. ISBN 88-04-50087-5 and ISBN 978-88-04-50087-2. (in Italian)
  • Ciao, ciao bambina, by Henri-Jean Servat and Orlando, Éditions Albin Michel, 2003. ISBN 978-2-226-14298-6. (in French)
  • Dalida, by Catherine Rihoit, Plon, re-published 2004. ISBN 978-2-259-20180-3. (in French)
  • D’une rive à l’autre, by David Lelait, Payot, 2004. ISBN 978-2-228-89904-8. (in French)
  • L’argus Dalida: Discographie mondiale et cotations, by Daniel Lesueur, Éditions Alternatives, 2004. ISBN 978-2-86227-428-7. (in French)
  • La véritable Dalida, by Emmanuel Bonini, Éditions Pygmalion, 2004. ISBN 2-85704-902-1 and ISBN 978-2-85704-902-9. (in French)
  • Mademoiselle succès, Barclay France, 2004. UPC 602498110843. (in French)
  • Dalida: La femme de cœur, by Jeff Barnel, Éditions du Rocher, 2005. ISBN 978-2-268-05500-8. (in French)
  • Dalida: La voce e l'anima, by Giandomenico Curi, 2005. ISBN 978-88-7641-687-3. (in Italian)
  • Top Dalida, Éditions Paul Beuscher, 2005. ASIN B000ZG64FO. (in French)
  • Dalida: La voce, Il suono, L'anima, by Mino Rossi, Edizioni Franciacorta, 2005. ISBN 978-88-89364-01-7. (in Italian)
  • Quasi sera: una storia di Tenco, by A. Montellanico, StampaAlternativa/NuoviEquilibri, 2005. ISBN 88-7226-910-5. (in Italian)
  • D’une rive à l’autre, by David Lelait-Helo, Éditions J'ai Lu, 2006. ISBN 978-2-290-34567-2. (in French)
  • Ntaainta Dalida, Éditions Odos Panos and 20 ans sans elle, 2006. (in French)
  • Dalida passionnément, by Arianne Ravier, Éditions Favre, 2006. ISBN 978-2-8289-0927-7. (in French)
  • Dalida, by Henry-Jean Servat and Orlando, Éditions Albin Michel, 2007. ISBN 978-2-226-15218-3. (in French)
  • Dalida, tu m'appelais petite sœur…, by Jacqueline Pitchal, Éditions Carpentier Didier, 2007. ISBN 978-2-84167-504-3. (in French)
  • Dalida: Une vie brûlée, by Bernard Pascuito, L'Archipel, 2007. ISBN 978-2-84167-504-3. (in French)
  • Dalida: Une vie..., by Jacques Pessis, Célina Jauregui, Emmanuel Polle and N-T Binh, Édition Chronique, 2007. 978-2-205-06006-5. (in French)
  • Dalida: Le temps d'aimer, Fabien Lecœuvre, Éditions City Editions, 2007. ISBN 978-2-35288-046-2. (in French)
  • Luigi Tenco: Ed ora avrei mille cose da fare, by R. Tortarolo and G. Carozzi, Arcana, 2007. ISBN 978-88-7966-431-8. (in Italian)
  • Dalida: Ses fans, ses amis ont la parole, by Claire Nérac and Cédric Naïmi, Éditions du Rocher, 2008. ISBN 978-2-268-06580-9. (in French)
  • Mia zia, ma tante Dalida, by Stéphane Julienne and Luigi Gigliotti, Éditions Ramsay, 2009. ISBN 978-2-8122-0011-3. (in French)
  • Dalida, le profil perdu, by Jean-Manuel Gabert, Éditions de la Belle Gabrielle, La légende de Montmartre collection, 2009. ISBN 978-2-917269-02-2. (in French)
  • Pour Dalida, by Colette Fellous, Flammarion ed., 2010. ISBN 978-2-08-069056-2. (in French)
  • Les grands interprètes, by Jacques Perciot, Frédéric Brun, Olympia Alberti, et Claude Frigara, Éditions Christian Pirot, 2010. ISBN 978-2-86808-274-9. (in French)
  • Rencontres avec une Étoile, by Jean-Claude Genel, Éditions Entre deux mondes, 2010. ISBN 978-2-919537-00-6. (in French)
  • La nuit de San Remo, by Philippe Brunel, Éditions Grasset, 2012. ISBN 978-2-246-75321-6. (in French)
  • Ciao amore. Tenco e Dalida, la notte di Sanremo, by Philippe Brunel, transl. by G. Vulpius, Rizzoli ed., 2012. ISBN 978-88-17-05518-5. (in Italian)
  • C'était en mai, un samedi, by David Lelait-Helo, Éditions Anne Carrière, 2012. ISBN 978-2-84337-663-4. (in French)


Most of her records were issued in France, then in Italy, Germany and Spain. Combining with other countries makes a total of 40 countries. In the 50s, she starts issuing only 25 cm albums and 45 maxi. In 1965, she changes size of her albums to 30 cm, and in late 1969, she completely stops issuing 45 maxi and replaces them with single.

Record formats

Diameter Revolutions per minute Duration
12 in (30 cm) 33 13 rpm LP (album)
10 in (25 cm)
7 in (17.5 cm) 45 rpm EP (45 maxi)
SP (single)


  • Le Masque de Toutankhamon (1954)
  • Sigarah wa kas (1954)
  • Brigade des moeurs (1958)
  • Rapt au deuxième bureau (1958)
  • Che femmina... e che dollari! (1961)
  • L'inconnue de Hong Kong (1963)
  • Menage all'italiana (1965)
  • La morale de l'histoire (1966)
  • Io ti amo (1968)
  • Dalida: Pour toujours (1977) (documentaly film)
  • Le sixième jour (1986)

See also


  1. ^ By birth she automatically gained Italian nationality through jus sanguinis of both Italian parents. In 1961 she replaced it with French nationality through marriage with French citizen.
  2. ^ Original pronouncement in French: "Votre pseudo ressemble trop au film Samson et Dalila et ça n'aidera pas à augmenter la popularité. Pourquoi ne remplacez-vous pas le second "l" par un "d", comme Dieu le père?"
  3. ^ List of Top 10 songs: #1-Dans le bleu du ciel bleu, #4-Les Gitans, #6-Gondolier, #7-Le jour ou la pluie viendra, #8-Melodie perdue.


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External links

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