25 March 2018

Lys Assia (1924-2018)

Yesterday, Saturday 24 March 2018, Swiss singer and actress Lys Assia has passed away. She was the winner of the very first Eurovision Song Contest in 1956. The sparkling and beautiful grande dame of the German Schlager appeared as a singer in several films of the 1950s. Lys Assia was 94.

Lys Assia
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. 2428. Photo: Teldec.

Lys Assia
German card by LYSassia.de. Publicity card for the album Sehnsucht nach dir. Photo: Gerd Nolte.

Legendary Venues

Lys Assia was born as Rosa Mina Schärer in Rupperswil in the canton Aargau, Switzerland, in 1924 (some sources indicate she was born in Berne in 1926).

She studied at a conservatory and at the art academy of Zurich. At 16, she started her career as a dancer at Zurich's Corso-Palast.

In 1940, she appeared with the Riva-Ballett for the French army, and in Nice she stood in for a female singer. People who heard her singing liked it so much that she decided for a career in front of the microphone.

In 1942 she had her first record contract with His Master’s Voice. She had her breakthrough in Germany in 1950 with the hit song O mein Papa (O My Father) from the operetta Feuerwerk (Fire Works) by Paul Burkhard.

Other well known songs of her were Moulin Rouge (1953), Schwedenmädel (Swedish Girl) (1954), Jolie Jacqueline (1955), Arrivederci Roma (1956), Was kann schöner sein (What Can Be More Beautiful?) (1956), Deine Liebe (Your Love) (1957) and Mi casa su casa (1957).

She sang in such legendary venues as the Tivoli in Copenhagen, the Olympia in Paris, the Plaza in New York and the Tropicana in Cuba.

On screen she appeared as a Schlager singer in German films like Palace Hotel (Emil Berna, Leonard Steckel, 1952) with Paul Hubschmid, Illusion in Moll/Illusion in a Minor Key (Rudolf Jugert, 1952) starring Hildegard Knef, Schlagerparade/Hit Parade (Erik Ode, 1953), Ein Mann Vergißt die Liebe/A Man Forgets Love (Volker von Collande, 1955) and Die Beine von Dolores/Dolores' Legs (Géza von Cziffra, 1957) with Germaine Damar.

In the Italian classic Le Notti Bianchi/White Nights (Luchino Visconti, 1957 - yes, we think every Visconti film is a classic 😊) with Marcello Mastroianni, she sang the song Scusami (Excuse Me).

Lys Assia (1924-2018)
German promotion card by Decca.

Lys Assia
German card by Telefunken Schallplatten. Photo: Teldec / Haenchen.

Lys Assia
German card by Telefunken Schallplatten. Photo: Teldec / Haenchen.

Posing Nude

Lys Assia was the winner of the very first Grand Prix d'Eurovision de la chanson/Eurovision Song Contest in 1956. She sang the songs Das alte Karussell (The Old Carousel) and Refrain for Switzerland.

She had also been in the German national final of that year. For Switzerland she returned to the contest in 1957, finishing eighth with L'enfant que j'étais (The Child I Was), and in 1958, finishing second with Giorgio.

She was married twice, from 1953 till 1957 to the Swiss businessman Henry Kunz, and from 1963 till 1995 to the Danish general-consul and hotel mogul Oskar Pedersen.

In 1964 she retired from show business and moved with her husband to Denmark. They opened hotels in Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Japan and South America.

After her husband’s death, she returned to Germany and renewed her singing career. In 2007, at age 83, she appeared at the annual German-language television song contest Grand Prix der Volksmusik, performing Sag Mir Wo Wohnen die Engel (Tell Me Where the Angels Live) with her 18-year-old duet partner, Beatrice Egli.

That same year, she also posed nude for the Swiss magazine Annabelle, for a feature titled Beauty with Age.

Her last album was Refrain des Lebens (2008) on which she sang new songs and new versions of old hits like Oh mein Papa and Refrain. At the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 in Moscow she handed Alexander Rybak the winner’s trophy.

In September 2011, Assia entered her song C'était ma vie written by Ralph Siegel and Jean Paul Cara into the Swiss national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 in Baku, Azerbaijan. The song, however, only came eighth in a closely fought national selection. She attended the event in Baku as a guest of honour.

In 2012, Assia entered the Swiss National Final Die grosse Entscheidungs Show to represent Switzerland in Malmö at the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 with the song All In Your Head featuring the hip-hop band New Jack.

She stayed a lifelong fan of the European Song Contest. Lys Assia died on 24 March 2018 at Zürich's Zollikerberg Hospital.

Lys Assia sings Refrain at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1956. Source: EurovisionTurkey09 (YouTube).

Music video of a recent version of O Mein Papa by Lys Assia. Source: Bersoli (YouTube).

Sources: Dave Thompson (AllMusic), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

最敏捷的,未必贏得競賽:最強大的,未必贏得戰爭:時間與機會才是主人 ..................................................