18 June 2020

Photo by Teddy Piaz

It’s very hard to find any info on the Teddy Piaz studio in Paris. Teddy Piaz seems to be born in 1900, but the date of his death is unknown. His studio was specialised in portraits of Music Hall artists like Josephine Baker and Mistinguett, ballet dancers such as Serge Lifar, singers, film actors, and many other celebrities. Hundreds of his portraits were used for postcards. Piaz is also associated with a number of 45 rpm records from the 1950s and 1960s, at a time when it was fashionable to include the portrait of the performer on the cover. Furthermore, it seems that Cosette Harcourt worked at his studio for a time before opening her own studio, Studio Harcourt. The Piaz Studio was located at 122 Champs-Élysees, the avenue running between the Place de la Concorde and the Place Charles de Gaulle, where the Arc de Triomphe is located. The Champs-Élysees is known for its theatres, cafés, and luxury shops, for the annual Bastille Day military parade, and as the finish of the Tour de France. A fitting site for a glamorous photo studio visited by international celebrities. It’s a pity that the story of Teddy Piaz and his salon stays so obscure while it was such a famous photo studio in France during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. We selected 20 film star postcards with photos by Teddy Piaz for this post, some hand-coloured, some in black and white, and issued by several publishers.

French postcard, no. 82. Photo: Studio Piaz, Paris.

French actress and singer Mistinguett (1875-1956) captivated Paris with her risqué routines. She went on to become the most popular French entertainer of her time and the highest-paid female entertainer in the world. She appeared more than 60 times in the cinema.

Mireille Balin
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 23. Photo: Teddy Piaz, Paris.

Mireille Balin (1909-1968) was the most beautiful woman in the French cinema of the 1930s. The glamorous actress is best known as the femme fatale who lured Jean Gabin in his downfall in the classics Pépé le Moko (1936) and Gueule d'amour/Lady Killer (1937). After the war, her love affair with a Wehrmacht officer led to the end of her career and Balin died poor and forgotten.

Roger Duchesne
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 81. Photo: Teddy Piaz.

French film actor Roger Duchesne (1906-1996) appeared in 30 films between 1934 and 1957. He is best remembered as the silver-haired gangster Bob in Jean-Pierre Melville's policier Bob le flambeur/Bob the Gambler (1956).

Jean Marais
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 91. Photo: Teddy Piaz.

With his heroic physique, Jean Marais (1913-1998) was France’s answer to Errol Flynn, the epitome of the swashbuckling romantic hero of French cinema. The blonde and incredibly good-looking actor played over 100 roles in film and on television and was also known as a director, writer, painter, and sculptor. His mentor was the legendary poet and director Jean Cocteau, who was also his lover.

French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 100. Photo: Teddy Piaz.

Blessed with a combination of charisma, good looks and impressive acting ability, Arletty (1898–1992) portrayed several femme fatales, vamps, prostitutes in French films and stage plays of the 1930s and 1940s. Her characters were down-to-earth, earthy, slightly comical female types, usually complex characters with a tough outer shell that concealed an inner vulnerability. She is best remembered as ethereal and mysterious Garance in Marcel Carné’s Les Enfants du Paradis (1944). When the Second World War ended, Arletty's career was marked with controversy. During the occupation of France, she had fallen in love with a German officer, and after the liberation, she was jailed as a collaborator. Her career would continue after a suspension but never reached the same level as before and during the war.

Serge Reggiani
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 142. Photo: Teddy Piaz.

Serge Reggiani (1922-2004) was an Italian-born French singer and actor. After his breakthrough in Marcel Carné’s Les portes de la nuit/The Doors of the Night (1946), he went on to perform in 80 films including such classics as Casque d'or (1952), Le Doulos (1962), and Il Gattopardo/The Leopard (1963). In the 1960s, he began a second career as a singer of chansons.

Gaby Andreu
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 198. Photo: Teddy Piaz, Paris.

French actress Gaby André (1920-1972) was a film star during World War II, who later became the mother of another gorgeous French film star, Carole André.

Madeleine Sologne
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 210. Photo: Teddy Piaz, Paris.

French stage and film actress Madeleine Sologne (1912-1995) was a popular star in the late 1930s and 1940s. She became the symbol for a generation when she appeared as a modern Isolde in Jean Cocteau’s L'Éternel Retour/The Eternal Return (1941). She and her film partner Jean Marais became the ideal couple of the European cinema of the 1940s. Girls did their hair in the long, blond Sologne fashion. But in 1948 the actress retired.

Danielle Darrieux
French postcard by Editions O.P., Paris, no. 310. Photo: Teddy Piaz, Paris.

French actress and singer Danielle Darrieux (1917-2017) was an enduringly beautiful, international leading lady. From her film début in 1931 on she progressed from playing pouting teens to worldly sophisticates. In the early 1950s, she starred in three classic films by Max Ophüls, and she played the mother of Catherine Deneuve in five films!

Réda Caire
French postcard by Editions et Publications cinématographiques (EPC), no. 28. Photo: Teddy Piaz, Paris.

During the 1930s and 1950s, Reda Caire (1908-1963) was a popular operetta singer in France. He also appeared in six French films.

Charles Vanel
French postcard by Editions et Publications cinématographiques (EPC), no. 161. Photo: Teddy Piaz, Paris.

French actor and director Charles Vanel (1892-1989) had a career in the cinema for 78 years. He played in over 200 silent and sound films, in France and abroad. Vanel is best remembered for his roles as the silent driver in Le salaire de la peur (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953), the retired chief commissioner in Les diaboliques (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1955), and the ex-resistance fighter in To Catch a Thief (Alfred Hitchcock, 1955).

Louis Jouvet
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 3. Photo: Studio Piaz.

Louis Jouvet (1887-1951) was a living glory of the French theatre. He made a huge impact as both a stage director and an actor. His character, his eagle-like profile and his unique way of speaking made him also an unforgettable film star who appeared in some of the masterpieces of the ‘poetical realism’, the Golden Age of the French cinema.

Josette Day
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 11. Photo: Studio Piaz.

French film actress Josette Day (1914-1978) is best known as Belle in the unforgettable classic La belle et la bête/Beauty and the Beast (1946). She started her film career as a child and played during the 1930s and 1940s many leading parts in French films. In 1950, she ended her successful acting career when she was only 36.

Annie Vernay
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 25. Photo: Teddy Piaz.

Swiss-French actress Annie Vernay (1921-1941) catapulted into stardom at an early age, but her career was cut short when she died at the age of 19.

Jayne Mansfield
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 879. Photo: Teddy Piaz, Paris.

Some Hollywood stars were much more popular in Europe than at home. A fabulous example is sweet Jayne Mansfield (1933-1967), one of Hollywood's original platinum blonde bombshells. Although most of her American films did not do much at the European box offices, Jayne herself was a sensation whenever she came to Europe to promote her films. During the 1960s when Hollywood had lost its interest in her, Jayne continued to appear cheerfully in several European films.

Francoise Arnoul
French postcard by Editions du Globe (EDUG), Paris, no. 113. Photo: Teddy Piaz, Paris.

Pretty and petite actress Françoise Arnoul (1931) was in the early 1950s presented as the new French sex symbol but soon she would be overshadowed by the spectacular Brigitte Bardot. But, Arnoul had enough talent and range to forge a decent film career for herself.

Henri Vidal
French postcard by Editions du Globe (EDUG), Paris, no. 123. Photo: Teddy Piaz, Paris.

Handsome, robust-looking Henri Vidal (1919-1959) was a wildly popular French leading man who played both heroes and heels opposite incredible beauties including his wife, Michèle Morgan. His thriving film career was cut short by a fatal heart attack at age 40.

Gina Lollobrigida
French postcard by Editions du Globe (EDUG), Paris, no. 404. Photo: Teddy Piaz, Paris. Publicity still for Trapeze (Carol Reed, 1956).

Gorgeous Italian actress and photojournalist Gina Lollobrigida (1927) was one of the first European sex symbols of the post-war years. ‘La Lollo’ paved the way into Hollywood for her younger colleagues Sophia Loren and Claudia Cardinale.

Gilbert Bécaud
French postcard by Editions du Globe (EDUG), Paris, no. 409. Photo: Teddy Piaz, Paris.

French singer, composer and film actor Gilbert Bécaud (1927-2001) was known as 'Monsieur 100,000 Volts' for his energetic performances. For nearly fifty years France hummed the melodies of this charming music hall star, dark blue-suited, white-shirted, and wearing his lucky tie - blue with white polka dots.

Silvana Pampanini (1925-2016)
German postcard by Ufa/Film-Foto, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 2246. Photo: Teddy Piaz, Paris.

Gorgeous Italian actress Silvana Pampanini (1926-2016) knew enormous popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. In the early 1950s, before Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida reached stardom, Pampanini was one of the most well-known symbols of Italian beauty.

Sources: Dominique Chadal (Degrés de parenté - French), Wikipedia, Find Art Info, and Marlene Pilaete.

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