Delair, Suzy: French Singer and Actress (in Clouzot Films) Dies at 102

Suzy Delair, the French chanteuse and actress who was popular in the 1940s and 1950s, has died. She was 102.

Delair died overnight in a Paris retirement home, the French magazine Le Point reported Monday.

Born Suzette Delaire in France on New Year’s Eve in 1917, Delair was a popular national figure in cabaret and music halls.

C’est si bon

Two of her more notable songs were “Avec Son Tra-la-la” and “C’est si bon,” which she performed at a Monte Carlo casino in 1950. Jazz great Louis Armstrong was at that event and would record his own version of the latter.

Director Henri-George Clouzot discovered Delair during a musical performance, and they would be romantically involved for a decade.

They worked together in three crime thrillers, in which she sings. In The Last One of the Six (1941) and The Murderer Lives at Number 21 (1942), she portrayed Mila Malou, the girlfriend of Pierre Fresnay’s Inspector Wens.

In Quai des Orfèvres (1947), she played music-hall singer Jenny Lamour. Delair sings in all three films.

She also teamed with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in Utopia (1950), a France-Italy co-production that saw her portray a nightclub singer shipwrecked with the comedy duo on a deserted island rich in uranium deposits. Production problems, along with the failing health of its American-based stars, contributed to the film’s failure. (It was released as Atoll K in Europe.)

She accepted the role on the conditions that French designer Jacques Fath created her wardrobe, that she had her own hairstylist and makeup artist and that she could chose her own composer and lyricist for the film’s musical numbers.

Delair also worked with notable directors Robert Siodmak (1934’s The Crisis Is Over), Luchino Visconti (1960’s Rocco and His Brothers), Marcel Carné (1963’s Chicken Feed for Little Birds) and René Clément (1956’s Gervaise and 1966’s Is Paris Burning?).