Léo Marjane, French Chanteuse During Paris Occupation

Léo Marjane at 100 years–Watch on YouTube (in French)

The artistry of Thèrése Maria Léonie Gendeblen, who performed under the stage name Léo Marjane, is overshadowed by her career choices during the Nazi occupation of Paris. During this period, Marjane, a popular chanteuse, continued to perform in clubs frequented by collaborationists and Nazis and sang on the tainted Radio Paris, which came under German control and was seen as a mouthpiece of the Axis. (Radio Paris was shuttered after the liberation of Paris.)

Marjane (August 26, 1912-December 18, 2016) was not the only French artist to find herself in a no-win situation. Maurice Chevalier worked to salvage his reputation by claiming to leverage his popularity to secure the release of 10 French POWs. (A video of Chevalier’s PR defense can be seen on holocaustmusic.ort.org.) For her part, Marjane claimed to have been naive.

After the war, Marjane’s popularity waned, and she sought audiences elsewhere, in  the U.S., Canada and South America. She gave up performing entirely by 1960. In recent years, she has had a bit of a comeback, appearing on CD anthologies of music from the 1930s and 40s.

Léo Marjane lived to be 104.

“Seule ce soir” on Spotify