16 June 2012

Marcel Amont

French Singer and actor Marcel Amont (1929) enjoyed considerable success during the 1960’s and 1970’s. He embodied the dynamic, cheerful and light singer.

 Marcel Amont
French postcard by EDUG, no. 198. Photo: Sam Lévin.

 Marcel Amont
French postcard by PSG, offered by Korès, no. 1100.

The Revelation Of The Year
Marcel Amont was born as Marcel Jean-Pierre Miramon Balthazar in a working class area in Bordeaux, France in 1929. His parents were from a small valley in Bearn, right on the border of Spain. He started acting in the local theatre and in 1951 he moved to Paris to become a cabaret entertainer. In 1956 he had his breakthrough. That year he released his first record and he appeared as the supporting act at the concerts of Édith Piaf. The French newspapers called him ‘the revelation of the year’. He married Tamara Vladimirovna Deinessa, a Russian dancer with whom he had two children. That same year, he also made his film debut in the romantic comedy La mariée est trop belle/Her Bridal Night (1956, Pierre Gaspard Huit) starring Brigitte Bardot and Louis Jourdan. Later the singer could be seen in more films, including La conduite à gauche/Driving on the Left (1961, Guy Lefranc) with Dany Robin. His musical career was his main focus though. He appeared at Paris most famous venue, L’Olympia as the supporting act of George Brassens and The Platters. In 1962, he performed one hundred days in a row as the main act at another famous music hall, Bobino. There he sang several songs written by the then unknown Claude Nougaro: Le balayeur du roy, Porte-Plume, Le tango des jumeaux, Le jazz et la java, etc. In 1970, Amont performed at the Olympia in a real one man show with dancers, waterfalls, giant screens, etc. It was so successful that the show was extended by two weeks, which was never seen before at the Olympia. An American producer and the BBC both made him an offer, but he declined because he was preparering a musical comedy. Eventually Sacha Distel would broadcast for the BBC. Among Marcel Amont’s greatest hits are Bleu blanc blond (1962), Un Mexicain (1962), L'amour ça fait passer le temps (1971) and C'est aujourd'hui dimanche (1971). In 1974 he was the host of the TV show Toutankhamont. Several times, he sang in the Gascon dialect of the Occitan language, including Marcel Amont canta en biarnes and Marcel Amont canta los poetas gascons. He had a relationship with the German singer/dancer Alice Kessler, one of the famous Kessler twins.

 Marcel Amont
Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. 4546. Promotion card for the Belgian magazine Juke Box.

 Marcel Amont
Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. 5292. Photo: Polydor.

A Symbol of the Cruelty of the Profession
From the 1980’s on, Marcel Amont’s popularity declined sharply. He no longer was seen on television and the radio did no longer play his records. Wikipedia writes that “this relative neglect became a sort of symbol of the cruelty of the profession of the singer”. Marcel took refuge in writing and published many books on music. He appeared in two more films, Les maîtres du soleil/The masters of the sun (1984, Jean-Jacques Aublanc) and L'orsalher (1984, Jean Fleschet), spoken in Occitan. Both films were not successful. In his final film, Avant l'oubli/Before oblivion (2005, Augustin Burger) with Sami Bouajila, his scenes were even deleted. During the 2000’s he made a come-back through various collaborations. In 2006, 27 years after his last recordings, he returned with a new album Jetlag, singing duets with Agnes Jaoui, Gerard Darmon, and others. In 2008, he participated in Guillaume Aldebert Enfantillages, an album for children. He wrote his autobiography Sur le boulevard du temps qui passe (On the Boulevard of the passing time) in 2009. Amont wrote the song Dans les yeux d'Alain Delon (2010), which he sang with the young artist Emma Daumas. He also contributed to the children's album Les larmes de crocodile et autres fables (The crocodile tears) composed by Daumas and his son Mathias Miramon. Since 1978 Marcel Amont is married to Marlene Laborde. They have two children.

Marcel Amont sings Un Mexicain. Source: Bodepolu (YouTube).

Marcel Amont sings Po Po Po Dis in a Scopitone clip. Source: SpikePriggen (YouTube).

Sources: Katia Djafri (IMDb), MarcelAmont.com, Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.

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