Maurice Chevalier

Perhaps best known for his rendition of the 1957 hit 'Thank Heaven for Little Girls', The French cabaret singer, actor and dancer Maurice Chevalier had a career which spanned two world wars and continued right up to 1970. With his trademark tuxedo and boater hat, Chevalier was a popular international performer and thanks to his numerous film appearances was as well known in the USA as he was in his native France. Whilst still a young performer appearing in musical comedies, Chevalier was romantically linked with two hugely successful female artists, Fréhel (Marguerite Boulc'h) and Mistinguett (Jeanne Florentine Bourgeois). These well-publicised romances with two of France's top female performers did no harm to the young man's reputation and his career blossomed, both in Europe and the USA. Whilst on national service Chevalier was wounded by shrapnel in the First World War and taken prisoner, but through the secret intervention of the king of Spain (who was one of Mistinguett's admirers) Chevalier was released and returned to Paris where he became a popular performer for the troops. Between the wars he was the highest paid star in Hollywood and became known for his heavy French accent which he used in his singing and acting career. Off stage his accent was relatively neutral with a slight American influence but Chevalier had recognised the box office appeal of a young, handsome Frenchman and exploited it to great effect. Chevalier was pressured by the Nazis during the Second World war to perform in Berlin and subsequently accused of collaborating with the Germans. It was an unjust accusation and Chevalier was acquitted in court but for some time after the war it harmed his career. By the 1960s he had risen to stardom again and made many successful film appearances. He came out of retirement in 1970 to perform the title song of the Disney blockbuster 'The Aristocats'. It was to be his final professional performance and he died in in 1972 age 83.

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Stations Featuring Maurice Chevalier

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