Legendary pop icon whose life was plagued by tragedy, Dalida was a smouldering, tortured ballad singer and actress who was a huge star in 1960s France and sold over 120 million records, before her suicide in 1987. Born in Egypt to Italian parents, her father was a violinist at the Cairo Opera House and Iolanda Gigliotti grew up dreaming of stardom, but at just ten months old she suffered an eye infection that would leave her with a squint and, while recovering, she was blindfolded and left in a darkened room. Her adoring father would raise her spirits by playing her lullabies, but when the Second World War broke out, his Italian nationality caused him to be imprisoned in an internment camp in the desert. His violent personality change and sudden death from a brain absess had a profound effect on Gigliotti, but she went on to compete in beauty pageants and was named Miss Egypt in 1954 after shocking the judges with an infamous panther print bikini. Adopting the stage name Dalila, she was recruited as a vampish screen siren during the golden age of the Cairo film industry but after moving to Paris, she struggled to find acting work, and was later transformed into 'Dalida', a pouting young pop starlet by jazz pianist turned record label boss Eddie Barclay. With the support of radio station 'Europe No. 1' she debuted with 'Madonna' in 1956 but it was her third single 'Bambino' which broke her as a major star and early albums 'Son Nomest Dalida' and 'Miguel' were followed by her Christmas number one hit 'Gondolier' in 1957. By the 1960s she was part of France's Ye-Ye movement, which sought to replicate the American rock and roll craze and the British beat scene and she played a landmark month long residency at The Olympia Theatre and toured the world with hits 'Les Enfants du Piree' and 'Romantica'. A string of stormy relationships with men included a romance with Italian songwriter Luigi Tenco, but after he took his own life, her depression came to the fore and a failed suicide attempt left her in a coma for five days. Dubbed 'Saint Dalida' by the media, she became a much more sophisticated, soul searching artist, but her woes continued when she fell in love with a young student and had an abortion that left her infertile. She sang about the experience on the emotionally raw track 'Il Venait D'avoir 18 Ans' in 1974 and remained a huge star with albums 'Julien', 'Dedie Toi' and 'Olympia 81'. She also performed the famous duet 'Parole Parole' with Alain Delon and later adopted a kitsch, Euro-disco sound on single 'Monday, Tuesday... Laissez Moi Danser' and toured a Broadway-style stage show, before controversies and a drop in popularity began to haunt her by the mid-1980s. In 1987 she overdosed on barbiturates at the age of 54, leaving a suicide note which read: "Life is unbearable for me. Forgive me."

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