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French music legend Charles Aznavour, one of the most prolific artists of the 20th century who continues to write and perform at 93, was honored Thursday with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
With a career spanning eight decades, the crooner has recorded 1,400 songs – 1,300 of which he wrote – and produced more than 390 albums in multiple languages.
The star, who is also credited in more than 60 films, defied critics who pointed out his unconventional looks to become one of France’s most iconic singers, dubbed the country’s Frank Sinatra.
“Sinatra once said that every song was a one-act play with a character, and Charles is an extraordinary actor as well as an extraordinary singer,” director Peter Bogdanovich, a friend of the star, said at the ceremony. of unveiling.
Aznavour delivered a brief message thanking supporters, explaining that he rarely speaks publicly in English as he feels his command of the language is not sufficient.
“French is my working language but my home language is still Armenian,” he told hundreds of fans from both countries, as well as supporters from around the world gathered outside the historic Pantages Theatre.
“After today, after that star there, I can be someone who can say that I’m also now a bit of a Californian because I have my daughter here and my grandchildren.”
Bogdanovich – whose films include ‘What’s Up, Doc’ and ‘The Last Picture Show’ – scoured some of Aznavour’s most popular hits, including ‘She’, which he described as the greatest song ever about the women, and paid tribute to Aznavour’s energy and dedication.
“The fact that he’s doing what he’s doing at 93 is an inspiration to all of us. He lacks nothing. He’s the best,” he added.
“A Singing Actor”
Born Shahnour Varinag Aznavourian in Paris to Armenian immigrants on May 22, 1924, Aznavour has sold over 100 million records.
Aznavour’s parents fled the Turkish-ruled Ottoman Empire to escape the massacres committed against their compatriots and landed in Paris, where they were awaiting a visa to travel to the United States.
Since the visa never materialized, they ended up settling in France, producing shows that Aznavour and his sister would take part in from an early age.
He said in a recent BBC radio interview that he had always seen himself “more like an actor who sings than a singer who acts”.
Aznavour left school early – and said he was still uncomfortable with his lack of higher education – but after World War II he teamed up with fellow French icon Edith Piaf, which took him to America and a solo career.
As a manager and songwriter, Aznavour lived with Piaf for eight years, once remarking that he had seen many of her lovers come and go but he wasn’t one of them because “she wasn’t my genre”.
Either way, Piaf’s endless nagging to get Aznavour to get his nose done finally paid off.
“As for the critics, I heard everything: they said that I was ugly, small, that the sick should not be allowed to sing,” he once told AFP in an interview.
“I had an exemplary career that I could never have dreamed of.”