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Charles Aznavour, the ‘French Frank Sinatra’, honoured with Hollywood Walk of Fame star

French icon Charles Aznavour, one of the 20th century's most prolific entertainers who continues to write and perform at 93, was honoured on Thursday with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Charles Aznavour, the 'French Frank Sinatra', honoured with Hollywood Walk of Fame star
Charles Aznavour poses on his Walk of Fame star. Photo: AFP

With a career spanning eight decades, the crooner has recorded 1,400 songs – 1,300 of which he wrote – and produced over 390 albums in multiple languages.

The star, who is also credited in more than 60 movies, defied detractors who pointed to his unconventional looks to become one of France's most iconic singers, dubbed the country's Frank Sinatra.

“Sinatra once said every song is a one-act play with one character, and Charles is an extraordinary actor as well as an extraordinary singer,” film director Peter Bogdanovich, a friend of the star, said at the unveiling ceremony.

Aznavour delivered a brief message thanking well-wishers, explaining that he rarely speaks publicly in English as he doesn't feel his command of the language is good enough.

READ ALSO: Eight current French-language musicians you need to hear

“French is my working language but my family language is always Armenian,” he said, in front of hundreds of fans from both countries, as well as supporters from across the world gathered outside the historic Pantages Theater.

“After today, after that star there, I can be somebody that can say I'm also now a little bit Californian because I have my daughter here and my grandchildren.”

Bogdanovich – whose movies include “What's Up, Doc” and “The Last Picture Show” – went through some of Aznavour's most popular hits, including “She,” which he described as the greatest ever song about women, and paid tribute to Aznavour's energy and dedication.

“That he does what he does at 93 is an inspiration to all of us. He doesn't lack anything. He's the best,” he added.

'An actor who sings'

Born Shahnour Varinag Aznavourian in Paris to Armenian immigrants on May 22, 1924, Aznavour has sold more than 100 million records.

Aznavour's parents fled the Turkish-ruled Ottoman empire to escape the massacres being committed against their compatriots and landed in Paris, where they were waiting for a visa to head to the United States.

When the visa never materialized they ended up making their home in France, producing shows which Aznavour and his sister would take part in from a very young age.

He said in a recent interview with BBC radio he always saw himself “more as an actor who sings than a singer who acts.”

READ ALSO: Ten must-see movie locations to visit in Paris

Aznavour left school early – and said he was always uncomfortable about his lack of higher education – but after World War II he teamed up with fellow French icon Edith Piaf, who took him to America and a solo career.

As her manager and songwriter, Aznavour lived with Piaf for eight years, once remarking he saw many of her lovers come and go but he was not one of them as “she was not my type.”

Either way, Piaf's endless badgering for Aznavour to get a nose job eventually paid off.

“As for criticism, I have heard it all: They said I was ugly, short, that the ill should not be allowed to sing,” he once told AFP in an interview. “I had an exemplary career I never could have dreamed of.”

By Veronique Dupont

FILM

French films with English subtitles to watch in November

As days get shorter and temperatures drop, November is a great month to enjoy a warm and comforting moment at the cinema. Here’s a round up of the French movies with English subtitles to see in Paris this month.

Cinema in France
Photo: Loic Venance/AFP

The cinema group Lost in Frenchlation runs regular screenings of French films in the capital, with English subtitles to help non-native speakers follow the action. The club kicks off every screening with drinks at the cinema’s bar one hour before the movie, so it’s also a fun way to meet people if you’re new to Paris.

These are the events they have coming up in November.

Friday, November 5th

Boîte Noire – What happened on board the Dubai-Paris flight before it crashed in the Alps? In this thriller Matthieu, a young and talented black box analyst played by Pierre Niney (star of Yves Saint-Laurent among other movies) is determined to solve the reason behind this deadly crash, no matter the costs. 

The screening will take place at the Club de l’étoile cinema at 8pm. But you can arrive early for drinks at the bar from 7pm. 

Tickets are €10 full price, €8 for students and all other concessions, and can be reserved here.

Sunday, November 14th

Tralala – In the mood for music? This new delightful French musical brings you into the life of Tralala (played by Mathieu Amalric), a 48 years old, homeless and worn-out street singer, who one day gets mistaken for someone else. Tralala sees an opportunity to get a better life by taking on a new personality. He now has a brother, nephews, ex-girlfriends, and maybe even a daughter. But where is the lie? Where is the truth? And who is he, deep down?

The night will start with drinks from 6pm followed by the screening at 7pm at the Luminor Hôtel de Ville cinema. There is also a two-hour cinema-themed walk where you’ll be taken on a “musicals movie tour” in the heart of Paris, which begins at 4pm.

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here. Tickets for the walking tour cost €20 and must be reserved online here.

Thursday, November 18th

Illusions Perdues – Based on the great novel series by Honoré de Balzac between 1837 and 1843, this historical drama captures the writer Lucien’s life and dilemmas who dreams about a great career of writing and moves to the city to get a job at a newspaper. As a young poet entering the field of journalism, he is constantly challenged by his desire to write dramatic and eye-catching stories for the press. But are they all true?

The evening will kick off with drinks at L’Entrepôt cinema bar at 7pm, followed by the movie screening at 8pm. Tickets are available online here, and cost €8.50 full price; €7 for students and all other concessions.

Sunday, November 21st

Eiffel – Having just finished working on the Statue of Liberty, Gustave Eiffel (played by Romain Duris) is tasked with creating a spectacular monument for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. It’s ultimately his love story with Adrienne Bourgès (Emma Mackey) that will inspire him to come up with the idea for the Eiffel Tower.

After a first screening last month, Lost in Frenchlation is organising a new one at the Luminor Hôtel de Ville cinema, with pre-screening drinks at the cinema bar. 

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here

Thursday, November 25th

Les Héroïques – Michel is a former junkie and overgrown child who only dreams of motorbikes and of hanging out with his 17-year-old son Léo and his friends. But at 50 years old, he now has to handle the baby he just had with his ex, and try not to make the same mistakes he has done in the past. 

The film will be followed by a Q&A with the director Maxime Roy who will discuss his very first feature. 

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here.

Full details of Lost in Frenchlation’s events can be found on their website or Facebook page. In France, a health pass is required in order to go to the cinema.

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