When Piaf invited her to come and see her at Gerny’s, an ultra-chic cabaret, she felt too shy to go. Street singing was dying fast, though. By the beginning of the 1950s those 30 groups were fast disappearing. Soon she was the last. And more glittering worlds beckoned: cabaret, variety, film, television. She had tried film once, for Marcel Carné in “Les Portes de la Nuit”, but had been fired for saying that she couldn’t imagine singing the film’s main number in the street.
For three years, despite being married (marriage never got in her way), she kept company with Vincent Scotto, an old, grey, high-living songwriter, in hopes he might make a star of her. But he tried to take her over, changing her name, her hair and her clothes. Especially, he stopped her singing in the street; so she marched out. There were recordings later, and regular appearances on a tv show compèred by Pascal Sevran, whom she had helped when he started out in 1963.
No breakthrough came, though. Occasionally in the 1970s she would do a little turn on the Paris streets, ringing out the old songs while the station queues looked on, largely uncomprehending. The city had changed. Most people ran now; they had no time to stop and listen any more. Fraternitéand gaiety had gone, with the songs. But every bit that was left seemed to gather round her at the local bistro near her flat in rue de Buzenval where she still lived in proud independence, raising a song and a glass to her on her 100th birthday in 2017, on the first of May.