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Patachou

Performer
( b. Jun 10, 1918 Paris, FRANCE - d. Apr 30, 2015 Neuilly-sur-Seine, FRANCE ) Female
Also known as: Henriette Eugénie Jeanne Ragon [Birthname]
Relations: Wife of Arthur Lesser (? - 1979) his death
Patachou was a Parisian chanteuse who "built a reputation on an offbeat name, a penchant for guillotining men's ties and the fact that she does not look, act or croon like Édith Piaf," as The New York Times put it in 1958.

A petite, ribald dynamo, Patachou was one of the most renowned French singers of the postwar period, known for her deep, husky voice; warm, earthy manner; and amiably irreverent stage persona. Where Piaf conveyed haunted, wraithlike glamour, Patachou, with her robust build and habitual performing attire of navy blue skirt and white blouse, looked like nothing so much as a favorite schoolteacher.

She sang in nightclubs around the world, including those of the Waldorf Astoria and St. Regis hotels in New York, as well as at Carnegie Hall and on Broadway. In later years, she acted in films by Jean Renoir and Sacha Guitry. Her stage name is a condensation of pâte à choux, the French term for cream-puff dough.

As a young woman, she was a typist and a factory worker. In 1948, she and her first husband, Jean Billon, took over Chez Patachou, a restaurant and cabaret in the Montmartre district of Paris.

There, despite the nightly presence of a pianist and an accordionist, the place was echoingly empty. Then one night in 1950, Mrs. Billon joined her few patrons in singing along to the music. One of them asked her to perform a solo, and Mrs. Billon, who had never studied voice or sung a note in public, gamely obliged, singing "La Seine" "just like a woman sings to herself in the bathroom," as she told The Times.

Within three months, Chez Patachou was requiring reservations two weeks in advance. It was soon presenting some of the foremost names in French song, including young lions like Jacques Brel, Charles Aznavour and Georges Brassens, along with Piaf herself.

Audience participation was roundly encouraged, and those who abstained paid a sartorial price. One night a patron asked for a pair of scissors and, before anyone could stop him, took them to the necktie of his nonsinging tablemate.

As an actress, she appeared in Renoir's "French Cancan" (1954), Guitry's "Napoléon" (1955) and many other French films and television shows. On Broadway, she was featured in the revues International Soiree in 1958 and Folies Bergère in 1964.

Source: The New York Times obituary 


ProductionsDate of Productions
Folies Bergère [1964]
[Musical, Revue, Original]
  • Starring: Patachou [Performer]
Jun 02, 1964 - Nov 14, 1964
International Soiree
[Musical, Revue, Original]
  • Performer: Patachou
Mar 12, 1958 - Mar 29, 1958
Find out where Patachou and are credited together