Saturday, July 20, 2013

SEPIA SATURDAY (171)

This week on Sepia Saturday
the prompt picture appears to me to be a studio shot of a stage performer. 
I'll give you a performer alright, 
a local one who almost made it big...


(1923-2011), 
born in the region of Quebec City
and better known as Alys Robi
was a child performer at 7 
and became a sensation in the city. 
She came to Montreal in 1936 to perform at the Theatre National for a long engagement. 
During WW2
she hosted a French radio show for a while, 
which was distributed abroad, 
namely South America, 
garnering her a following there.
then toured the Canadian military bases, 
becoming the darling of many 
with her French translation of Spanish and Brazilian songs. 


Over time, 
her appeal reached out beyond our borders, 
performing in NYC and even going to England among other European countries. 
You can see her above in the studios of the BBC in 1947.

video

video


She was a rising star but... 
a car accident in 1948 while in Hollywood, 
and a heart break, 
left her in utter depression 
and she found herself interned in an asylum for mental breakdown. 
She spent five years there 
and even underwent a lobotomy... 
She was released in 1952 
and she tried to reignite her career 
but the stigma of her mental health proved to be a burden 
as it was very much taboo back then. 
Still is I think!! 
She did perform at the Casa Loma 
and my father told me he had seen her there, 
and always seemed to keep fond memories of her performance. 
Unfortunately, 
her time had come and gone 
and she was never to reach the stardom she had hoped for. 
I remember coming across her in a club decades ago, 
where she stepped on my foot... 
and when she turned around, 
I immediately recognized her, 
but I was not really impressed by what I saw... 
The truth be told, 
I was never fascinated by the personage, 
unlike some... 
Two movies and many books were written about her; 
she even wrote two herself, 
one about her career, 
and another about her five years in a mental institution. 
This last one might be of more interest to me, 
since I work in the healthcare system 
and I've been involved somewhat with psychiatry for a while, 
as an employee and NOT as a patient [yet]... 
Making the defense of the mentally ill her life's mission even earned her a medal from the Queen!! 
Nice to see a good deed recognized.
She had sort of a renaissance in the 1990s with a new song 
and remained in the public eye until her death at age 88 in 2011. 
I read recently the city of Montreal had dedicated a park in her honor, 
to perpetuate her memory in the collective consciousness. 
A talent for sure, 
but a tragic destiny...


Time to bring down the curtain 
and let you go back to 
for more intriguing stories. 
:)~ 
HUGZ

39 comments:

  1. You've done it again Bruno. Excellent blog.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello! I like the first photo. Didn't she change in looks over the years? I enjoyed the songs. Thanks for posting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She got old, like the rest of us...
      but I prefer to showcase her at her best here.
      :)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. If this had happened now,
      she would have been on the cover of those celeb/gossip magazines,
      running the same headlines as we see today,
      where celebrities fall in love, break up,
      enter rehabilitation on their own or by a judge's order...
      At least, our press her has a little more decency.
      :)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  4. I remember the song, though I was very young ... don't know if it was her version or not. For someone who was never "facinated by the pesonage" you certainly did well by her. She is beautiful and talented and lived a tragic life as do many who are thrust into the public eye and then fall. Very interesting, TB, I just came over to see how you are doing and I would say ... very well :)

    Andrea @ From The Sol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not as well as you'd imagine,
      but working on it!!
      :D~

      Her kind of music is not really my cup of tea,
      but what she did, she did well.
      So it would be wrong of me to be unfair toward her.
      She certainly showed she was a smart woman, even from an early age.
      It is a pity things turned out this way.
      :)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  5. Very sad about her accident and breakdown and lobotomy. I guess that and the passage of time would make changes in a person, although I'm sure you meant more than that when you said she didn't impress after stepping on your foot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, she wasn't there to perform but merely have fun with her entourage.
      I assumed back then she might have been drinking,
      looking overly excited with the attention over her,
      but to me, she was a has-been, and a sad one at that.
      (It was just before her renaissance in the '90s...)
      I was young, and perhaps a tad judgmental,
      with many things to learn yet about life.
      I have, since...
      Were she still alive and were I to come across her again,
      I might be kinder,
      but I cannot rewrite my past and must leave things as they are.
      My father should have been the one writing this.
      It certainly would have given you another outlook
      since he heard her on the radio and saw her perform in her glory days.
      This was his era, not mine.
      I saw only a pale reflection of what she once was, in a moment of embarrassment...
      No fault of hers!!
      :)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  6. Replies
    1. Well, yeah, many talents disappear too soon,
      as we can still see nowadays.
      :/~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  7. I had never heard of Alys Robi, but what a sad story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it the whole point of Sepia Saturday,
      to explore things and places we don't know,
      and to learn about folks?!?
      I figured most wouldn't know her in this group,
      so I am happy with my contribution,
      her voice finding a new audience!!
      :D~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  8. Lovely voice - but oh how tragic!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed, sad how things turned out...
      She got so close,
      but the industry had/still has so many to choose from
      that they won't gamble on someone in her predicament.
      With some support and proper management,
      she could have done well I think...
      :/~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  9. Lovely voice indeed. What a story for this amazing woman, and yet tragic as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She did leave us some legacy here,
      but imagine if...
      If she had made it...
      :/~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  10. What a sad story, and I suspect not at all uncommon for someone to *almost* make it. I have a couple friends who are amazing song writers/musicians, yet they cannot get a break, a record or anything. Such is life I suppose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If what they have to offer is already a saturated market, they'll get nowhere.
      The industry searches for a product with some novelty to it,
      or some shocking value, so it'll stand out from the rest.
      They have to use social medias and gather a following,
      in such a way that they may get noticed by the industry.
      We all have dreams, but we don't all get to live them...
      :/~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  11. A Bright Light That Can Sometimes burn,I guess......She Has The Look Of Judi Garland ,Non?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Especially in the first pic!!
      Some are a star that will last forever,
      others are shooting stars,
      gone in a blink...
      :/~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  12. Interesting person. That whole frontal lobotomy thing gives me the creeps. Janet Frame, one our more famous authors, spent time in a mental institution, apparently for little real reason other than she didn't fit in with others' concention of how she should behave. Very sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If that were the case, I would be interned...
      Alys, for her part, claimed the lobotomy was beneficial to her.
      Who am I to judge?
      I didn't know her before, nor did see her during her stay at the asylum,
      and when I did see her, it was in an awkward moment...
      But I find it distasteful when a person is stripped of all of her rights,
      for others to do as they wish, even if they mean well.
      So for that author of yours, to have been sent there for no other reason
      than being a misfit, according to them...
      Did she posed a problem for her own safety?
      To others' safety???
      If not, that was downright criminal to do that to her...
      :/~
      HUGZ

      Delete
    2. Janet Frame was scheduled for a frontal lobotomy but her first published work, a collection of short stories, was awarded a prestigious literary prize so the operation was cancelled!

      Delete
    3. That's what you call a close call...
      Phew!!
      :D~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  13. We had a few women in our family sent off to mental institutions circa 1900 - 1925 or so. Interestingly, their husbands divorced them promptly and married someone else, like the secretary, the housekeeper or the girl next store. At least they didn't set them (the pesky wives) on fire like has been done in India. I thought of Giselle McKenzie when I read this - another French Canadian chanteuse of similar vintage. Very interesting post, as always.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I know that some guys used that excuse to get rid of the wife,
      much like some family had girls sent to asylum or convents when they didn't behave
      as the family saw fit...
      No need to cross the ocean, crimes of honor are committed here
      and the culprits don't understand why we can't see things their way...
      One would have hoped that with the women's lib that they would have been able
      to decide their own fate, but it seems that there will always be some imbecile
      wanting to hurt them in one way or another.
      :/~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  14. An interesting spin on the theme. Perhaps on the idea of the iconic figure. She had a beautiful voice and one can see why she had a chance at Hollywood fame. But in pop culture artists are not often allowed to age gracefully. I read in her Wiki entry that the lobotomy was forced on her, but later she credited it for her recovery!?!

    Was she popular in France? It was curious that her success came from French translation of South American songs. Would her voice be easily recognizable as Quebecois to someone from France? Like the difference between American and English singers?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I said, I can't compare her various states, therefore cannot ascertain it was beneficial to her,
      or if there might have been other alternatives, given the means of the time.

      She did work the French scene for a while, but I cannot judge of the difference. I myself speak Quebecois
      and her accent doesn't seem thick to me, but French are usually quite charmed by our accent anyway,
      so I don't see a problem there.
      :)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  15. What a sad story to go with such a delightful voice. A joy to look at, read about and listen to. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just giving a local flavor to this week's theme.
      :)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  16. Alys seemed to be the Canadian Carmen Miranda. Carmen had a similar history - with mental illness but no lobotomy.
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Women have often suffered of the judgment of others [mostly male]...
      It seems a convenient way of getting rid of a problem.
      Women's health is little understood because it differs in various aspects from men's.
      :/~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  17. A sad story about a woman who deserved success. Electric shock treatment and lobotomies for mental illness give me the creeps.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are still some to defend such techniques,
      in some cases....
      I'm also skeptical about those.
      :/~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  18. There seems to be no end to stories like that about Hollywood stars and wannabe's. It makes me wonder why anyone seeks fame.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is one thing I'd never wish for.
      I value my privacy too much [said the blogger...].
      Hollywood is a big meat grinder just looking for the flavor of the moment
      to make a buck out of it.
      I can understand why some do their business but try staying away from Hollywood
      and the limelight.
      :)~
      HUGZ

      Delete
  19. What a lovely, bitttersweet post. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are always appreciated,
but please note that any comment with a link
will promptly be deleted,
as it usually means it is from a spammer.
Thank you!!
:)~

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

MY POINT OF VIEW on MYSELF, my FRIENDS, my CITY, my LIFE !!!